After a couple months here, I am finally introducing myself. My name is Angela Alderson and I am a 3rd year Chemistry and Business student from the University of Waterloo. I took over the role of Sustainability Coordinator on August 28th. Ah yes, you may ask, “You aren’t an environmental studies student?” Well like many people, it’s come to my attention that climate change is the elephant in the room that everyone talks about, but does nothing about. The wisest thing I was ever told was to, “Leave things better than I found them”. This includes our planet and this opportunity allowed me to do just that.

Figure 1: Source – (

Alright, enough about me. Let’s talk about some of the cool things that are happening in my world. Upon starting this position, I was told that the main part of my role was Shut the Sash. Shut the Sash is an energy-saving initiative, where we perform random walk-through inspections in PMCRT and KDT to ensure that fume hoods are closed when not in use. If a fume hood is found open, and nobody is using it they get a red stamp and if it is closed or someone is using it they get a green stamp. We encourage this behavior by performing these audits multiple times a week. When a lab gets a compliance of 100% for that month, a pizza party is done via a random draw. Over the years, this method has worked extremely well with compliance over 90% for each site per month since 2016.

Figure 2: A picture of the Shut the Sash app interface that compiles all the data for each month.

In March of 2018, we started to track exterior lab doors, and freezer corridor doors. By tracking these doors we were able to make the labs safer, as well as, save energy by controlling temperatures in the freezer corridors. Currently, we do not include this in our decision for who gets the pizza lunches. Due to this, people sometimes leave the freezer doors open out of convenience.

In addition, I manage the ice pack recycling program, Research Green Team Members, and Visual Waste Audits, which I have noticed have poor compliance rates. Noticing these themes, the question now became how we further engage people. Recently, we had an exciting develop and have started to work with the IT team to further develop the Shut the Sash app. The Shut the Sash data is an application used to input data to saves time and human error. The plan is to include Shut the Sash, Shut the Door, ice pack recycling program, Research Green Team Members, and Visual Waste Audits into a weighted score for our pizza party. The score will be composed of 50% Shut the Sash, 20% Shut the Door, 10% Research Green Team, 10% Visual Waste Audits, and 10% Ice Pack Recycling. By doing this, we plan to see an increase in engagement and compliance. This is an exciting and new opportunity that we hope to have up and running by the New Year!

Figure 3: One of our Research Green Team members, Maria Kulikova, posing with the ice pack recycling she started on October 2019 in the Coburn Lab at PMCRT.
Figure 4: A pie chart on how to win a pizza party.

If you are interested in joining, or want anymore information on these initiatives, please email