MA Environment and Management Theses

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    Running a Maker Day Workshop to Explore Southview Residents’ Perspectives on Livable Communities in Calgary, Alberta using Design Thinking
    (2024) Weber-Vigrass, Kylie; Dale, Ann
    AbstractThe research involved organizing and leading a Maker Day workshop in a neighbourhood of Calgary and was concerned with how to meaningfully engage the public by implementing alternative methods using design thinking. The research question: How might Southview change to suit the needs of the existing residents and community while also accommodating for a changing Calgary? guided this study. Participants reported feeling more comfortable sharing, safer in comparison to other meetings they had been at involving community matters, allowing them to converse more passionately and boldly. The research explored how engaging those closest to the problem using human centred design thinking in the scenario of a Maker Day process might cultivate new and invigorating ideas for decision makers to use moving forward. The results may lead to more creative solutions to the challenges this neighbourhood faces. Running a Maker Day workshop using design thinking methods was successful in engaging participants and through grounded theory analysis, thematic elements helped develop new pathways to explore for more localized, community design planning. Keywords: Maker Day workshop, Southview, neighbourhood, design thinking, design scenario, community, community planning
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    Making Community Gardens Thrive: A Systematic Study of Factors Affecting the Development of Community Gardens in Greater Victoria
    (2023) Ip, Sit Kei; Ling, Christopher
    Community gardens around the world are increasingly recognized by the governments and the public for their socio-cultural and ecological benefits. They face a broad range of challenges, including land access, volunteer management, resources, and funding. By adopting the framework of agency and social capital, my research examines how community garden organizers in Greater Victoria overcome these challenges in establishing and sustaining community gardens. I conducted semi-structured interviews with fifteen research participants including community garden organizers, government officials, volunteers, and gardeners. The result shows that local community gardens mostly adopt informal structures and non-bureaucratic governance which renders them vulnerable to challenges during its establishment and development. While many community garden organizers are rich in social capital, it is found that individual agency is necessary throughout the process. The study also finds that the type of organizers’ motivation, quality of teamwork, and community support are the three main components conducive to community garden’s continuous development while succession planning and burnout are significant challenges to community garden organizers but rarely explored in the literature. The research result is not only applicable to community gardens, but also sheds light on how to support similar volunteer-led community initiatives.
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    Understanding the Link between E-waste and Air Pollution in Guiyu, China: Insights into Fine and Coarse Particulate Matters and Policy Responses
    (2023) Li, Ailun; Shrestha, Rudra
    The rapid development of electronic devices has led to the issue of improper disposal of electronic devices. E-waste can have many severe influences on both the environment and human beings. To better understand the knowledge of e-waste and air quality, this research evaluated the level of PM2.5 and PM10 to determine the impact of e-waste-related activities on air quality in Guiyu, China, and suggested policy recommendations based on the analysis results. In this research, we explored the relationship between e-waste and air quality through the lens of laws and regulations. The analysis used air quality and climate variables, including temperature, humidity, air pressure, precipitation, ground wind speed, and wind direction data. We reviewed selected national, provincial, and municipal laws and regulations. The research compared the existing air quality with the COVID-19 period to reflect the trends, and developed policy and management recommendations to improve the air quality in the region. The pollution rose diagram, and the HYSPLIT model were used to analyze pollution dispersion and interpret the results. We find that mean PM2.5 levels significantly decreased over the COVID-19 period, showing that the closure of e-waste-related activities in Guiyu as a result of rigorous laws had a significant positive influence on local air quality. This highlights the value of strict rules in reducing the impact of human activities on local air quality.
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    Emission ambition: the roles institutional investors are playing to mitigate climate change
    (2023-09-10) Reed, Kari-Lynn; Dale, Ann
    Reporting can be a decision-making tool for institutional investors around the issue of climate change. Reporting can demonstrate how organizations tie capital allocation to environmental impacts, climate change risks, and sustainability, thereby providing information that could include or exclude organizations from investment portfolios. This research uses qualitative methods to examine how decision making, risks, and influences may support and challenge the effectiveness of reporting strategies and how institutional investors have impacted reporting. Findings, specific to Alberta and the oil and gas sector, demonstrate the direct and indirect influences institutional investors have on reporting as well as their meaningful contributions towards reporting standards and frameworks. Favourable research results could improve climate action.
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    Building energy retrofit strategies in community housing in British Columbia
    (2023-07-17) Edalat Nia, Zahra; Das, Runa
    This study aims to benchmark multi-residential community housing buildings in BC to ‎determine how energy performance varies between them and what factors may affect energy ‎usage. This study also examined the costs and benefits of different retrofit scenarios. To this ‎end, I used a mixed-method approach, including desktop research, quantitative methods, and ‎sampling of twenty-three buildings managed and operated by BC Housing and CoolAid ‎Society. The study started by developing a dataset of community housing buildings using data ‎collected from housing providers. It was then followed by calculating and assessing Energy ‎Performance Indicators using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, utility bills, and building ‎characteristics data. Upon completing building benchmarking, buildings were ranked based on ‎their performance and factors affecting energy usage were analyzed using regression analysis. ‎Following this, the costs and benefits of different retrofit scenarios, including energy efficiency ‎measures and renewable energy technologies, were evaluated to find what scenario can deliver ‎the most benefits at lower costs. Results showed that the high-rise buildings in the dataset ‎performed worse than low-rise and mid-rise buildings in the dataset and also than other high-‎rise buildings in BC. The study also demonstrated that building energy performance is affected ‎by various factors, including mechanical systems (e.g., gas-fired boiler), building ‎characteristics (e.g., floor area), and the number of occupants. Lastly, the analysis revealed that ‎different retrofit scenarios differ in energy savings, greenhouse gas emission reductions, and ‎utility savings. Fuel switching in space and water heating demonstrates potential for delivering ‎significant savings in energy, greenhouse gases, and utility bills. ‎