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People, planet, prosperity: Working together towards a sustainable future
Innovation Issue 35: Fall 2021

People, planet, prosperity: Working together towards a sustainable future

People, planet, prosperity: Working together towards a sustainable future 

Message from the Vice-President, Research & Innovation

In this edition of Innovation, we highlight some of the pioneering work undertaken by Ryerson researchers that is helping to drive sustainable change. Collaboration is key to much of the research featured in these articles, demonstrating how strategic partnerships can contribute to developing sustainable social, physical and technological innovations. 

Steven N. Liss, PhD
Vice-President, Research and Innovation

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This publication is made possible, in part, with the support of the Research Support Fund.


A high-ceilinged loft with large semicircular windows.

Field of vision: Revitalizing brownfields sustainably 

Across North America, industrial and commercial activity has left contaminated sites – such as old gas stations, factories or even defunct dry cleaners – sitting empty. Dwindling land supply in cities has property developers, planners and governments trying to reclaim and remediate these former industrial and commercial sites, which are called brownfields.         

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A woman with a white sweater and helmet riding a bike.

Powering sustainable transportation through regulatory change

E-bikes could help power a more sustainable transportation network in Toronto, but there are barriers to clear before government and other influential officials are comfortable and capable of paving a path towards more widespread use.

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An aerial view of a farmer's field and a parking lot.

What drives sustainable change in Canadian trucking? 

When it comes to greening the Canadian trucking industry, Ryerson researchers have found that competition to attract new drivers is what is helping to propel small and medium-sized companies towards sustainability, while anti-competitive activity is a barrier to progress.

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360 Degrees

Two rows of solar panels on an urban rooftop.

Clean power, locally sourced

Imagine being able to buy and sell clean power directly from and to your neighbours. That’s the new paradigm being proposed by researchers at Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Energy (CUE). 

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A rechargeable Li-ion battery in a circuit board.

Nano-engineering better batteries

In today’s world, we rely on batteries and energy storage more than ever to power our daily lives. Between these demands and climate change, there is a need to develop reliable energy storage and conversion systems.

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In Our Community

A Black Lives Matter activist speaks into a microphone in a park.

Supporting the efforts for a national environmental racism strategy with research

As momentum builds to address environmental racism in Canada, including coverage of the topic by mainstream media, a Ryerson professor is contributing ongoing research efforts to a national coalition that seeks to impact public policy about the issue. 

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Idea to Innovation

Grape skins being poured into a metal funnel next to a picture of grapes on the vine.

Fermenting change: New treatment solutions for winery wastewater

The Niagara region is home to about half of Ontario’s wineries, and as winemakers harvest grapes and bottle their vintages each year, thousands of cubic metres of winery wastewater is created and hauled to local municipal wastewater treatment plants. 

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The exterior of a modern home.

Space-age materials for building sustainability

Buildings, from homes to office towers, consume vast amounts of energy and produce significant carbon emissions. In 2018, The Atmospheric Fund estimates that in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, 42.8 per cent of emissions are from buildings (external link) .  

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Under the Microscope

Two men in separate rubber boats navigating through icebergs.

Detecting contaminants in the Canadian Arctic

In the Canadian Arctic, researchers found high concentrations of a group of chemicals called organophosphate esters (OPEs) – frequently used as flame retardants or plasticizers, which make materials more flexible and softer – during yearly sampling.

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Two people in bright work overalls use heavy equipment to extract soil near a playground.

Chronicling an era of nuclear waste in Port Hope

At the north end of Port Hope, Ontario, a vast mound – designed to eventually be seven storeys tall with an area footprint of roughly 70 hockey rinks – is being constructed and filled with radioactive soil that is contaminated with radium-226, uranium, thorium-230 and arsenic. 

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Meet the Expert

An indigenous woman at a protest holds a drum.

How the Canadian media reports on natural resource projects 

The rise and fall of the now-cancelled Pacific NorthWest Liquefied Natural Gas project (LNG) made headlines in western Canada from the time it first entered the public’s awareness in 2013 until well after its cancellation in 2017 – but what you know about the project could depend on the news publication where you read about it. 

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