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Project Objectives

 This module contains all the final documents related to our 2009 Phase 1 project “Making it Happen — The Transition to a Sustainable Society”.
Our basic premise was to look back at some 30 years work on environmental visions and sustainable societies, starting with Canada’s own “Conserver Society”.
We know we face major environmental challenges.  We also know that numerous mitigating technologies are available today.  So why is progress toward sustainability so slow in this country?
A large part can be blamed on institutional barriers that impede the application of available solutions. Members of the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa decided that a useful contribution to the environmental debate would be made by studying these barriers: why do they exist? How do they function? And how can they be reduced or removed?
These are the key questions we asked:
  1. What do we mean by a sustainable society and what have been some of the visions and metrics that defined sustainability over the last few decades?
  2. What do we need to do, and what technologies do we need to put in place to achieve a sustainable society 50 years to 100 years from now? and
  3. What are the obstacles and barriers to deployment and implementation of the technologies that could achieve a sustainable society?
Initially, we looked at a number of sustainability parameters including energy, water and wastewater, garbage production and disposal, and ecological/biodiversity factors.
Detailed exploration of all these factors and their implications would have constituted a monumental task, so we focused on what we saw to be the most urgent area, as well as the area where most information was readily available, i.e. energy, climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. We examined both the supply side and the end-use demand, i.e. conventional, renewable and alternative energy technologies and energy conservation.
Because of time and resource limitations, Phase 1 of our research focused on two challenges: how to make the residential sector “green”, and identifying institutional barriers to building sustainable communities.
Although there are many actors and stakeholders, we chose initially to focus on what the federal government can do to eliminate some of these institutional barriers.
The identification and systematic examination of institutional and other barriers and obstacles related to these two challenges is a valuable first step in the development of policies and initiatives designed specifically to overcome them.This project was carried out at the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management in 2009 under the direction of Dr. André Potworowski, assisted by an Advisory Board and a team of MBA students.