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Sustainability

Campuses to go smoke-free in 2020

October 22, 2019

No smoking/no vaping symbolRed River College is “butting out” starting Jan. 1, 2020, when smoking and vaping will no longer be permitted at any of its campuses across the province.

The new policy is part of the College’s commitment to provide a healthy environment for its students, employees and visitors — one where they can work, learn, study and live.

RRC is one of Manitoba’s largest institutes of applied learning, and the province’s largest trainer of health-care professionals. It’s also consistently ranked as one of Manitoba’s top employers, and one of the greenest.

“We’re proud of these distinctions, and with that pride comes a responsibility to show leadership and set an example by putting an end to smoking and vaping everywhere on campus,” says Melanie Gudmundson, RRC’s Chief Human Resources Officer.

“We all share the same air. By adopting a 100% smoke-free policy, we’re eliminating exposure to second-hand smoke on campus that is known to be detrimental to people’s health, and contributes to local air pollution.”

The policy applies to all members of the College community, including students, staff and faculty.  Visitors to campus, including visiting instructors, prospective students, contractors and external clients, will also be prohibited from smoking on RRC property.

The College is making smoking cessation programs and resources available at no cost all members of its community through its Health Centre.

Exemptions to the policy will be granted to RRC community members who practice smudging and pipe ceremonies on campus. Red River College will also provide accommodation for the medical use of cannabis on campus in accordance with applicable legislation and policy.

To learn more about RRC’s smoke-free policy, visit rrc.ca/smokefree.

New pollinator garden the ‘bees’ knees’ for sweeter honey yields this summer

July 29, 2019

The bees are back in town, and Red River College is sweetening the deal for its insect friends this year, having added a new pollinator garden to the grounds of the Notre Dame Campus.

For four years, the College has partnered with Beeproject Apiaries to bring hives of honeybees — not to mention the delicious honey they produce — to the rooftops of RRC. Urban beekeeping is one of the many innovative and green initiatives offered by the College as a way to engage staff and students in sustainability efforts on campus and at home, and has contributed to RRC being named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for the ninth straight year.

Pollinator garden, Notre Dame CampusBecause pollination is so important to the sustainability of honeybeew, the College opted to complete a new pollinator garden project under the leadership of its Grounds crew this year.

“Staff and student engagement is critical for the success of any of the sustainability projects that RRC initiates, and we’ve seen that many areas of the College are eager to get involved and make sustainability a priority within their departments,” says Sara MacArthur, RRC’s Director of Sustainability.

“We were fortunate to partner with the Grounds department, who went over and above to create this beautiful pollinator garden at the Notre Dame Campus for everyone — not only our pollinator friends, but also students and staff — to engage with and enjoy.”

The pollinator garden is located along the walking path on the southeast grounds of the campus, and features a number of diverse species of flowers and plants in order to support as many different pollinators as possible. These include: Read More →

Portage Campus recognized as chimney swift champion

May 30, 2018

Red River College’s Portage Campus has a vacancy for some feathered friends.

For its efforts in restoring an old chimney to create a hospitable habitat for birds, RRC has been presented with the Swift Champion award from the Manitoba Chimney Swift Initiative (MCSI). Over the summer of 2017, two swifts were spotted using the chimney a number of times, indicating the restoration was a success.

“We’re honoured to accept the Swift Champion award and to continue our role in protecting the chimney swifts,” says Guy Moffat, Portage Campus Manager. “It’s been amazing to see the work our facilities team has put in to restoring the chimney, and to be able to witness the swifts flying in and out of their summer home. Part of RRC’s Strategic Plan includes fostering sustainable growth – not just for the College, but for the entire province. This is just one way we contribute.”

The chimney swift is a small brown bird, often described as a “cigar with wings,” that enjoys roosting and breeding in brick chimneys. The species’ population has declined significantly in Canada since the 1970s and is now listed on both the provincial and federal Species at Risk registries.

When a volunteer from MCSI noticed upgrades being made to the Portage Campus chimney in 2016, they let the College know it had been identified as a designated chimney swift habitat.

That awareness resulted in changes to the original repair plans, which would have closed off the chimney with a metal cap. Now the top of the brick chimney remains intact, with an opening that allows swifts to enter and roost. The College’s efforts also ensure toxic gases won’t collect in the nesting area. Read More →

Ready, set, grow: RRC rises to Winnipeg Harvest’s Grow-a-Row challenge

September 28, 2017

Re driver College potato harvest

One potato, two potato, three potato, four — that and a few hundred pounds more were dug up from Red River College’s community garden today and donated to Winnipeg Harvest in support of the corporate Grow-A-Row challenge.

Staff and students at the College have spent all summer tending to the spuds (and carrots and onions), which will now go to feed families in need.

“Once again, Red River College is proud to support Winnipeg Harvest, and this year we are pleased to donate nearly 3,000 pounds of vegetables from our garden to Winnipeg families,” says RRC President Paul Vogt.

“I want to thank the staff and students who volunteer their time to tend to the garden, and our grounds and Sustainability teams who champion this community initiative within the College. I’d also like to congratulate the Winnipeg Airports Authority and the corporate partners [including Pegasus Publications] who have taken part in this important project to ensure that no one in our community goes hungry.”

Dating back several years, RRC’s involvement with Grow-A-Row is currently championed by Gord McLeod, pavement and grounds supervisor, and Sara MacArthur, director of Sustainability. The College’s garden — a 30’ x 60’ plot of land — has become a community initiative encouraging involvement from both staff and students, who tend and harvest it on a volunteer basis.

The food grown in the garden supports not only the greater community, but also the College’s food bank, organized by the RRC Students’ Association.

The Grow-A-Row initiative, meanwhile, first blossomed back in 1986, when Winnipeg residents Ron and Eunice O’Donovan produced more potatoes in their backyard garden than they could consume. Their donations were so well received by Winnipeg Harvest that the couple encouraged friends and neighbours to also donate surplus produce.

Since then, Grow-A-Row has yielded more than 3.7 million of pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables.

RRC partners with Cypher Environmental on new eco-friendly product launch

June 19, 2017

Product launch and ribbon-cutting, Cypher Environmental

Cypher Environmental and Red River College are marking the launch of a new product line developed by Cypher in collaboration with RRC students.

Cypher’s new Dust Stop Municipal Blend product is designed as a non-corrosive and environmentally friendly alternative to road salts such as magnesium chloride and calcium chloride, offering superior road dust control results.

“Cypher’s new product is a perfect example of how Red River College partners with industry to foster innovation right here in Manitoba,” says RRC President Paul Vogt. “It’s a real success story, as students and faculty worked on this project, our facilities were used, and both the Cypher president and company staff are College graduates.”

The product was launched today at an event attended by provincial Minister of Sustainable Development Cathy Cox, along with a delegation of political representatives from the Belarusian province of Mogilev, who’ve shown interest in the product.

Earlier in the day, RRC took the delegation on a tour of the campus facilities used to develop the Dust Stop Municipal Blend.

“We have been working hard on getting this new product up and running, and we’re very excited to be able to officially launch,” says Todd Burns, president of Cypher Environmental. “This product will create new jobs and revenue for the province of Manitoba and we have a growing international market to cater to.”

Cypher Environmental is a Winnipeg-based company that engineers environmentally friendly, high-quality dust control, soil stabilization, and water remediation solutions and now exports to over 30 countries.

Work on the new product was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP).

College named one of Canada’s greenest employers for seventh year

April 21, 2017

Rooftop beekeeping at RRC

From urban beekeeping, to landfill diversion efforts, to active transportation options for staff and students, Red River College shows no sign of ending its Greenest Employer winning streak.

For the seventh year in a row, RRC’s environmentally friendly policies and efforts to engage staff and students in sustainability efforts have resulted in a Canada’s Greenest Employer designation from Mediacorp Canada.

Today, almost 90 per cent of staff and faculty believe that sustainability needs to be a priority in all College operations, and it continues to be a key strategic priority, as well as a fundamental part of RRC’s five-year Strategic Plan.

“Red River College continues to be a champion of sustainability in Manitoba, and I congratulate all members of our College community for their efforts in continuing to cultivate a culture of sustainability at RRC,” says RRC president Paul Vogt. “From our applied research on green construction and vehicle technologies, to our recycling programs, to our state-of-the-art building projects, that culture touches everything we do.”

Feeding into that culture are the many initiatives that support RRC’s commitment to a green environment, including recycling and composting programs, efforts to promote public transit and other active transportation options, and e-waste drives that divert more than 10,000 pounds of electronic waste from landfills each year. Read More →

Hive mind: RRC launches urban beekeeping initiative on downtown dormitory rooftop

August 5, 2016

Chris Kirouac (Beeproject Apiaries)

Red River College’s downtown dormitory is home to more than just students this summer. The rooftop patio at Paterson GlobalFoods Institute is also the new seasonal home of our very own buzz-worthy urban beehives.

A fixture at PGI since early July, the three hives each house between 40,000 and 50,000 European honeybees, a docile but still industrious breed expected to produce up to 75 kilograms of honey by this fall.

Until that time, they’re being tended to by Beeproject Apiaries’ Chris Kirouac (shown above) and Lindsay Nikkel, a husband-and-wife team of former nurses who describe their sticky venture as a DIY hobby gone wild, and with whom RRC’s Sustainability department struck a honey of a partnership earlier this year.

The resulting initiative is a perfect match with the College’s mandate on sustainable practices, offering environmental benefits (via the pollination of nearby greenspaces) and the opportunity to add another locally sourced food product to RRC’s menu — one that arrives at the table in very nearly its natural state.

“Honey is one of those amazing foods that’s better the less refined it is,” says Kirouac, noting the harvested honey is bottled in a CFIA-inspected facility, but not pasteurized or refined in any way. “The quality and safety of honey — right when you crack the hive and stick your finger in there — means it’s good to go, just the way it is.”

Once extracted, the honey will be used by students in PGI’s culinary labs (including in the kitchen of restaurant Jane’s), and by Food Services departments at all three Winnipeg campuses. It’ll also be available for purchase at College events throughout the year, including a new farmer’s market planned for the Notre Dame Campus this fall. Read More →

Eyes on the future: College unveils new mission, vision and values statements

June 16, 2016

Open Cafe meeting

Classes may be winding down for the summer, but Red River College sits poised to enter a new era of post-secondary excellence, armed with an updated set of initiatives to guide its strategic direction and future growth for the next five years.

Following months of consultations with internal and external stakeholders — including a series of Open Café meetings (shown above) with staff and faculty from all campuses — the College has adopted newly-revised mission, vision and values statements, casting an aspirational eye towards sustainability, service to community, and global recognition.

Redrafted in tandem with RRC’s new Academic and Research Plan and pending five-year Strategic Plan (due this August), the new statements provide a roadmap for the College to follow, and a set of guidelines for all staff as they put policies into practice — both inside and outside the classroom.

“We don’t expect people to memorize them word for word, but hopefully to get to know them and understand what we are as an institution, and where we’re trying to go, so they can be part of the change,” says Cindee Laverge, vice-president, Student Services and Planning at RRC.

“It’s a way for people to help us achieve our strategic direction: through the mission and vision, to understand on a day-to-day basis what’s important to us, and through our values to understand how we work and play.” Read More →

RRC nabs Greenest Employer designation for sixth year in a row

April 22, 2016

greenest2016-englishFor the sixth year in a row, Red River College has been named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers, a designation that recognizes RRC’s environmentally friendly policies and programs that engage staff in their sustainability efforts.

The listing comes courtesy of Mediacorp Canada’s ongoing Top 100 Employers project, and coincides with Earth Day activities and events throughout the globe.

“Red River College continues to be a champion of sustainability,” says RRC President Paul Vogt. “We’re honoured to continue to receive this honour each year for the past six years. This is something every member of our College community can take pride in.”

“There’s a real culture of sustainability at Red River College,” adds Sara MacArthur, RRC’s Manager of Sustainability. “Our staff do more than just ‘know’ about sustainability — they also embrace the values of sustainability in their day-to-day actions.”

Over the years, RRC has taken a lead role in a number of sustainability-related initiatives, including: Read More →

Research partnership with Manitoba Hydro nets national innovation award

February 16, 2016

NSERC Award CeremonyA research partnership with Manitoba Hydro focusing on sustainable building infrastructure and transportation has earned Red River College the top honour from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Presented today at a ceremony at the Governor General’s residence in Ottawa, NSERC’s Synergy Award for Innovation recognizes outstanding research and development partnerships between colleges and industry partners in the fields of natural sciences and engineering. Only one Canadian college receives the award each year.

“This award is the highest level of validation a college can receive for the impact and lasting benefits of its research partnerships efforts,” says RRC President Paul Vogt. “Our partnerships with industry stakeholders like Manitoba Hydro are critical to our mandate for supporting innovation in Manitoba, and providing our graduates with the skills that industry requires.”

Dating back more than a decade, the partnership between RRC and Hydro includes collaboration on such high-profile projects as the award-winning Manitoba Hydro Place and the development of a zero-emissions electric battery transit bus.

“The legacy of the relationship between Manitoba Hydro and RRC will live on in our downtown office tower and zero-emission buses operating within many North American cities for decades to come,” says Lloyd Kuczek, Manitoba Hydro’s vice-president of Customer Care and Energy Conservation.

“These projects provide daily reminders of what we can accomplish through collaborative research and of the importance of leveraging the capabilities of research partners like RRC.”

Read More →