'Hey, we can do this'

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By Paul Mayne
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Kermit the Frog once sang about how it wasn't easy being green.


Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry students Andrew Burke and Amy McCabe, both Meds 2009, look forward to the Quadrangle Beautification Project garden returning to life this spring. With fellow Schulich students, the pair was honoured with a Western Green Award. 
 

  But don’t tell that to Engineering professor Denis O’Carroll and a handful of Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry students – this year’s winners of the Green Awards, presented by Physical Plant & Capital Planning Services
 
Helping to raise awareness of sustainability at Western, 30 nominations were received this year for projects with positive environmental outcomes, or that encouraged participation and involvement in sustainability measures.
 
The awards will be handed out this afternoon at a ceremony at Michael’s Garden from 4 to 5 p.m. All are welcome.
 
In 2007, a group of Schulich students initiated a project that would have tremendous impact on the lives of students, faculty and staff. The Quadrangle Beautification Project took on a small courtyard area between the newly constructed Don Rix Clinical Skills Learning Building and the existing wings of the Medical Sciences Building.
 
At the time, the only landscape was a lone tree. Student Andrew Burke (Meds 2009) saw this as an opportunity for growth. “We looked at the area and said, ‘hey, we can do this’,” says Burke, who with classmates raised more than $12,000 to kick-start the project. “We’ve received great support from Physical Plant, Dean (Carol) Herbert and so many students, staff and faculty at Schulich.”
 
Garden layout and species selection was done by Amy McCabe (Meds 2009) with input from Amanda Gardhouse (Meds 2010). Dozens of students worked hard to plan and plant flowers and trees and lay paving stones.
 
Just recently, a small composting bin was placed inside the garden area to break down food waste.
 
“The conception of this beautiful space, its planning and execution, including the installation of the paving stones, reflects the creativity, commitment, leadership and altruism of our student colleagues,” says Herbert.
 
O’Carroll is being honored for his work in the Faculty of Engineering, in particular the ECO-Lab group, and developing green and educational plans for the new $22-million Claudette MacKay-Lassonde Pavilion, set to open in September.
 
“It was certainly a surprise to win the award as sustainability is a significant theme on campus with many outstanding people working towards this goal,” says O’Carroll.
 
Of significant interest about the building will be the green roof.
 
Green roofs are typically comprised of vegetation and soil, or a growing medium, over a waterproofing membrane.
 
For Western’s building, the roof will be covered with a series of flats that include drought-resistant sedum, a hardy garden plant preferred over grass for green roofs.
 
“It is important that the university take a leadership role in the community developing ‘green’ initiatives. University students, staff and faculty are all very supportive of these initiatives, frequently going beyond the call of duty to introduce and support these initiatives,” says O’Carroll. “These are all ways that the university community is developing a sustainable campus. It is great to work in an environment with this much energy and enthusiasm with regards to green issues.”
 

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