Langara College Environmental Studies Students Compete At CityStudio’s Hubbub Five

Urban living is rife with environmental challenges, of which Langara Environmental Studies students are poised to tackle. As the final project for ENVS 2100: Environmental Problems and Solutions, students proposed novel solutions to issues related to water, food, disaster, and waste. In December, the first three of the five groups below were selected to showcase their project to Vancouver city staff, faculty, community members, councillors, and Mayor Gregor Robertson at CityStudio’s Hubbub Five event at City Hall. All groups presented the previous week to their instructors, fellow students, and a CityStudio representative to determine who would move on to present at Hubbub Five.

Group 1: “Virtual Water”

Group 1 - Water

Photo credit: Geoffrey Smith

This group floated four key water conservation practices to curb home water use:

  • Green roofs to reduce the energy needed to provide cooling in summer and heat during winter

  • Rain barrels with the potential to save homeowners over a thousand litres of water during summer months

  • Bio swales, a landscape feature designed to remove contaminants from run-off water

  • Amended soil depths to reduce erosion, irrigation needs, and run-off while improving storm water filtration and moisture retention through the addition of material into soil

To champion community water conservation and provide an information resource for those who wish to participate, the group developed a website, a recognition program, and a social media component.

Group 2: Yard Farm Initiative

Group 2 - Food

Photo credit: Geoffrey Smith

To cultivate a stronger community while feeding those in need, this group aimed to connect homegrown produce to local food banks. Envisioning a network of two by three-meter vegetable gardens in each household’s yard, the group estimated each city block in their test community to be capable of producing 5,100 pounds of food per season. Each homeowner would be encouraged to donate 10 per cent of their crop yield, which a team of 10 volunteers would deliver by bicycle to local food banks.

Group 3: Park Recycling Pilot Program

Group 3 - Waste

Photo credit: Geoffrey Smith

After surveying several major Vancouver parks over three weeks, this group developed seven criteria to pinpoint the optimal locations for waste and recycling bins. The group’s considerations included foot traffic, proximity to areas of consumption, and ease of access for domestic dumping to discourage litter and foster recycling. Plotting their conclusions on aerial maps, their approach repurposed existing bins while identifying where additional bins may need to be installed.

Group 4: Eggmergency

Group 4 - Eggmergency

Photo credit: Geoffrey Smith

When large-scale crises occur, tightly knit communities don’t crack under pressure. This group pitched a small plastic egg containing information about individual households for families to share with their neighbours. If and when a disaster occurs, the brightly coloured eggs would provide a record of residents so that they may be accounted for. Beyond being an important first step in a community’s recovery, the pre-emptive exchange of eggs between community members could be a valuable icebreaker between neighbours who may not have met otherwise.

Group 5: Find a Home for Foam

Group 5 - Foam

Photo credit: Geoffrey Smith

The fact that 13,000 tons of expanded polystyrene and polyurethane currently sits in Vancouver landfills may be enough to make one foam at the mouth. Commonly known as Styrofoam, this commonly non-recycled material may take 300 years to break down, releasing tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in the process. This group proposed improved recycling practices, specifically the repurposing of foam waste into plant substrate for green roofs and into polymers for use in flooring.

About Langara

Located in beautiful Vancouver, BC, Canada, Langara College provides University, Career, and Continuing Studies education to more than 21,000 students annually. With more than 1,700 courses and 130 programs, Langara’s expansive academic breadth and depth allows students of all ages, backgrounds, and life stages to choose their own educational path.

Media Contact

Geoff Smith
Communications Officer
Langara College


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