Promoting Sustainability

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Talk for the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)

RA Centre, Ottawa, February 20, 2014



Promoting Sustainability in Engineering!

Riadh Habash, PhD, P.Eng, Faculty of Engineering, University of Ottawa

Inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers is vital for the future prosperity of communities, the fact that requires breakthroughs in developing learning initiatives.


In this talk, several approaches to promote sustainability among students, industry, and the community will be presented.


Interdisciplinary initiatives to transmit knowledge, influence community education, and create the right environment to spark youth interest in science and engineering will be explored.


Examples of potential student projects in the field of sustainable and renewable energy technologies that foster scientific discovery by advancing ideas from university labs to industry will be discussed.


A sustainable world is one in which human needs are met without harm to the environment and without sacrificing the ability of next generations to meet their needs.


Sustainability as an emerging academic field has been engaged in a rich debate to define what key competencies are considered critical for graduating students to possess.


The vision of the Faculty of Engineering, University of Ottawa is to offer education and research supporting the development of sustainable engineering practices by incorporating the concepts of sustainability into the curriculum, primarily at the undergraduate level.


The Faculty targets a set of sustainability competencies for the graduate to achieve including dimensions, metrics and tools, stakeholders, ethics, and complexity.


Sustainability Competencies and Framework




Ability to understand, conceptualize, design and evaluate complex open-ended engineering systems using a  sustainability dimensions: environmental, economic, and social!


Environmental Sustainability

Resource utilization

Resource conservation

Materials choice

Releases to Land Air or Water

Emissions Reduction.


Economic Sustainability

Local Economy

Economic Impacts



Social Sustainability

Fair trade and profit sharing


Role of Labour Standards

Health and Safety

Social Justice

Local Community

Cultural, Heritage and Religious Sensitivity.



Ability to understand, use and interpret sustainability metrics and tools.



Ability to identify stakeholders or interested parties; Establish the needs and expectations of stakeholders; interact and collaborate with stakeholders having a broad range of cultural and social backgrounds; and consider the needs of present and future generations in developing creative solutions to an engineering problem.



Ability to Recognize and value the importance of dealing ethically with uncertainties, diversity, intra and inter-generational equity and other nontechnical challenges which affect engineering decision-making.



Ability to operate within complex systems (environmental, social, economic or technological) using sustainability considerations and understand the limitations due to uncertainty.


Operation Domains



Energy issues

Energy conservation techniques and initiatives

Renewable energy

Energy supply innovation

Energy measurement and reporting

Greenhouse gas emissions.



Transport issues and impact

Sustainable transport options

Transport measurement and reporting.



Water issues

Water conservation techniques

Water measurement and reporting.



Waste issues and impact

Waste prevention techniques

Waste segregation techniques

Waste initiatives

Waste processing and auditing technologies

Waste measurement and reporting.