Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Opportunities for Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage in Building Materials
The “upfront” embodied carbon (EC) of building materials includes the accumulated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from harvesting, manufacturing and transportation processes, and is becoming more widely recognized as a major source of global GHGs. The aim of this study is to demonstrate the potential for buildings to go beyond reduced or zero GHG emissions and to become– at least temporarily – a negative emissions technology, namely places of net storage of carbon. The study examines the EC for two samples of low-rise residential buildings that are representative of the North American wood-framed typology: a single-unit raised bungalow of 185m2 and an eight-unit, four-story of 935 m2. Data from Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for a wide variety of materials that could feasibly be used to construct the sample buildings are used to calculate the total EC for four different material assemblies in each building type: High EC, Typical EC, Best Conventional EC and Best EC. Results demonstrate the upfront embodied carbon can vary widely, ranging from a worst-case scenario of 415 kgCO2e/m2 of net emissions to a best case of 170 kgCO2e/m2 of net carbon storage by using biogenic (plant-based) materials. In addition, an energy modeling analysis of the buildings was conducted for the Toronto, Ontario climate to compare the EC with the operational carbon (OC) emissions. The results show that achievable reductions in EC could provide more than four times the overall GHG reductions than energy efficiency improvements to reduce OC between 2020 and 2050. The building model with both the lowest EC and OC is shown to have net carbon storage for several centuries. At the current scale of US residential construction, annual carbon storage in residential buildings as modeled could reach 30,000,000 tonnes, the equivalent of 10 coal-fired power plants. The immediate impact of large-scale GHG reductions from the use of carbon-storing materials is demonstrated to be worthy of consideration for the building industry and related policy makers. Author Keywords: Biogenic carbon, Carbon accounting, Embodied carbon, Energy efficiency, Life cycle analysis, Operation emissions
Analyzing the Effectiveness of Social Movements Opposing Fossil Fuel Infrastructure
Blocking fossil fuel infrastructure projects like pipelines is increasingly being seen as a legitimate way for civil society groups to reduce global carbon emissions. This research project is an exploratory case study of the Trans Mountain pipeline in British Columbia and its opposition. My research question asks, ‘What has each tactic/strategy of opposition in the campaign to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion accomplished, and how have they been effective? How can they be done more effectively?’ Through interviews and an autoethnography, my research explores the effectiveness of activists in this campaign. I analyze the results of my findings within social movement theory and other activist definitions of effectiveness from my literature review. The more significant findings from my research are that activists need to do a better job educating the public on the issue, need to direct more of their resources towards promoting a solution to the issue and make alliances with other movements and groups. This research project contributes to the literature on the effectiveness of oppositional strategies and tactics of pipeline resistance, as well as social movement theory. Author Keywords: British Columbia, pipeline, protest, strategy, tactic, Trans Mountain
"Changing our community"
Community-based research (CBR) is a method of discovery that can provide pragmatic methods of advocating for and enabling community change. CBR literature and practice has focused on securing educational and job skills training outcomes for students rather than the communities, and community outcomes CBR and partnership frameworks were truly meant to serve. This research evaluates the effectiveness of a research brokering organization, and the community outcomes that can be meaningfully related back to established partnerships and research. A linked contribution and realist evaluation were employed to consider the contributions of U-Links Centre for Community-Based Research to capacity building in Haliburton County, for host organizations, local municipalities and the public. A community survey (n=65), interviews with past project hosts and management committee members (n=26) anecdotal project exploration, internal document review, and participant observation from living in the region and working within the organization, offers qualitative and quantitative data to support this contribution narrative, while also theorizing key factors for developing projects with high contribution potential. Five key factors were found which can act as both contexts and mechanisms of community-based research mobilization: relevance, relationships, resources, rigour and reach. Author Keywords: capacity building, community, community-based research, contribution analysis, evaluations, research impact
Role of Policy in Arctic Food (In)Security
Hunger is a significant concern in Canada, and even more so in the North, with 52% of Inuit adults in Arctic regions experiencing some level of food insecurity in 2012. Policy deficiencies are argued to, at the least, be partly responsible for this issue. This qualitative exploratory project aimed to answer the question: What is the role of food-related policy(ies) in household food security? A review and analysis of policy documents and academic literature at three jurisdictional levels, using the case of food insecurity in Nunavik, Québec, was conducted. The study identified 281 policies facilitating and 139 policies acting as barriers to food security. The highest proportion (27%) of facilitators related to economic accessibility of food and the highest proportion of barriers (93%) related to political accessibility of food. Only one previously identified factor influencing household food security in the region had a corresponding policy barrier associated with it. The study suggests that what is considered ‘food policy’ differs significantly between jurisdictions. Many of the same policies that act to facilitate some aspects of food security act as barriers to others. Policy barriers tend to be difficult to identify by their very nature. As a result, policy plays a complicated role in Nunavik food security status, representing a positive influence in some regards and a negative one in others. Author Keywords: Arctic, Food, Food security, Inuit, Nunavik, Policy
Emerging Dynamic Social Learning Theory of a Learning Community of Practice
In current knowledge-based economy, knowledge might be viewed as the most valuable organizational resource in sustaining any organization. Organizational knowledge originates from cognitive learning by individuals situated within organizations. In organizational learning, situated learning of knowledge by individuals is shared to create sustainable organizational competency. Yet, there is inadequate research to understand how situated learning operates as a social learning system within Community of Practice (‘CoP’). Through a case study of a multi-level, non-profit CoP in Ontario, Canada, this qualitative explanatory research contributes to the extant literature by building a unique theoretical framework that provides conceptual insights on linkages between organizational knowledge, social learning system, and organizational competency, in sustaining the organizational CoP. Using Straussian grounded theory methodology, qualitative primary data from in-depth interviews, participant observations, and documents were triangulated and analysed abductively to reveal an emerging dynamic knowledge-based social learning theory towards explaining how situated learning sustains this learning CoP. Author Keywords: Community of Practice, Grounded Theory, Organizational Knowledge, Organizational Learning, Organizational Sustainability, Situated Learning
Active Neighbourhoods Canada
This research considers the historic context of power that planning operates within, and looks at the ways in which certain community members are marginalized by traditional planning processes. Participatory planning, which has theoretical roots in communicative planning theory, may have the potential to shift the legacy of power and marginalization within planning processes, resulting in improved planning outcomes, more social cohesion, and a higher quality of urban life. I used a community-based research approach to evaluate approaches to participatory urban planning in Peterborough, Ontario. I worked with a community-based active transportation planning project called the Stewart Street Active Neighbourhoods Canada project. This thesis evaluates the participatory planning approaches employed in the project, and determines if they are effective methods of engaging marginalized community members in planning. The research also identifies the professional benefits of participatory planning, and examines the barriers and enablers to incorporating participatory approaches into municipal planning processes. Finally, I developed a set of recommendations to implement participatory planning approaches more broadly in the city of Peterborough, Ontario. Author Keywords: active transportation, communicative planning theory, community-based research, community engagment, participatory planning, public participation
Building wind energy landscapes
This thesis project explores landowner experiences of wind energy development through an inductive qualitative case study in Huron County, Ontario. The research included in-depth interviews with landowners focused on landscape and community change, participant observation of Environmental Review Tribunals (ERT), the gathering of participant photos, as well as relevant government and industry documents and media reports. The iterative data gathering and analysis were supported by my observations and reflections while living in affected communities and talking to participants. The study demonstrates how the health debate over wind can inform divisions between neighbours, that local politics have been given a token role as a place for resistance to wind energy development that fails to meaningfully influence projects, and that appeals are legalistic and do not provide an outlet, or place for appellants to be heard. Furthermore, the felt experience of tight knit and fragile communities were disrupted through land leases, as well as changes to the landscape. These disruptions impacted connections to, and associations with place, and are shown to have had negative emotional and physical impacts on some individuals. Supporters of wind development tied their mostly positive views of landscape change to a sense of disruption generally throughout the community. Insights from the research lead to a set of suggested actions that might improve the current situation at the levels of provincial policy, planning, local governance and industry practice. Keywords: wind energy policy, planning, landscape, Ontario, rural communities Author Keywords: Affect, landscape, Ontario, planning, Rural communities, Wind energy policy
University Aged Millennials' Attitudes and Perceptions Toward Vehicle Ownership and Car Sharing
Car-sharing may have the potential to contribute to a more sustainable transportation system. The current research sought to answer the question: what are university-aged Millennials' perceptions and attitudes toward the adoption of vehicle sharing and private vehicle ownership? The research consisted of hosting six interactive focus group sessions with Millennial students, who currently do not own vehicles. Using a qualitative approach, I analyzed the discussions through a social practice theory lens. I suggest that skills, meanings, materials, and social interactions have an influence on the way in which a transportation option is perceived by Millennials. The results revealed that social norms surrounding vehicle ownership and car sharing are being developed, shaped, changed, challenged and reconstructed. If car-sharing businesses, universities, and governments wish to progress toward a more sustainable transportation system, they should recognize the importance of marketing. Author Keywords: Car ownership, Car sharing, Millennials, Sustainability, Transportation, University
Energy Resilience in Northern Communities
This project examines the factors for success of alternative energy initiatives in remote northern Indigenous communities, and the link between northern community energy and resilience. The case study, in the Gwich’in village of Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories, focuses upon a biomass boiler district heating project that provides renewable heat fuelled by local wood chips, and the willow harvesting initiative that supports it. Data was collected by interviews and participant observation in Fort McPherson and Yellowknife, and by analysis of resilience, community energy, and biomass literature. Success factors identified include the importance of aligning energy systems with local cultural identity, traditional values and connection to landscape, values often under-represented in financially-driven energy decisions. Autonomy and self-reliance are shown to be critical factors in northern community energy decisions, related to well-being, pride in place and enhanced resilience. Community resilience is revealed as a key component of northern community energy success. Author Keywords: Energy, Indigenous, Northern, Renewable, Resilience, Sustainable
Motivating Policy Responses to Climate Change
This research investigates urban climate governance through a case study of climate change adaptation policy making in the Canadian municipality of Vancouver, British Columbia (BC). It investigates the context in which the City of Vancouver was motivated to develop its climate change adaptation strategy (CCAS) by exploring the motivating factors and drivers behind the formulation of this plan. The research approach involved content analysis of policy documents underlying the CCAS as well as interviews with key politicians and policy makers familiar with the strategy. I conceptualize the development of the CCAS using Kingdon's Multiple Streams Framework, leading me to conclude that the convergence of three streams, namely: 1) knowledge of local climate change impacts and their cost to city assets, 2) political leadership and 3) green policy coordination in the City of Vancouver, created an opportunity that was seized upon by policy champions to address adaptation. Author Keywords: adapting cities to climate change, climate change adaptation policy, climate change adaptation policy formulation, local climate governance, municipal adaptation plan, urban climate governance

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