A graphic that reads, 'Sustainability at McMaster' and features a photo of a bee on a flower

How McMaster is transforming our campus into a living laboratory for sustainability

Planting an entire forest, one tree at a time. Promoting the use of fossil-fuel-free energy sources. Teaching others how to incorporate sustainable practices into their day-to-day lives. Finding practical ways to help reverse the effects of climate change.

These are just some of the things McMaster’s students, researchers and staff are doing to improve the health of the planet, today and every day.

This Earth Day, we’re thinking about climate change and planetary health — what is happening, who it impacts and what we can do.

Here are some of the ways our community members are leading the charge for a cleaner, greener future.

A student volunteer helps dig a plot for a bee garden on campus. The back of their shirt reads "Nature at McMaster."

Student life

Four students walk to McMaster campus. One student pushes a bike. A greener, healthier way to get to campus

Good news for anyone hoping to travel to McMaster and its surroundings in a sustainable way: Thanks to a group of students, the revitalized Parking Services website has a new focus on sustainable and active transportation.

Science student launches project to reuse lab coatsSecond-year Integrated Science student Isaac Begun sits at a desk in an undergraduate research lab.

Second-year Integrated Science student Isaac Begun has launched ReCoat with a grant from the McMaster Okanagan Office of Health & Well-being. Students finishing their last labs can now hand off their lab coats to students about to the start their first labs.

Zero Waste McMaster logoZero Waste McMaster helps students live more sustainably 

How a student group is helping others adopt small, accessible, low-waste lifestyle changes that can add up to a big difference. 

Students planting trees by searching the webA graphic image of trees on a laptop screen

A group of sustainability-focused students are encouraging the adoption of a search engine that helps fund reforestation projects. 

Two student-run projects win 2023 Climate Change and Health Innovation AwardA student digs up a plot in McMaster forest to plant a new tree. 

The top prizes went to students who facilitated a community tree-planting event, and a group who helped in the collection and reuse of donated technology.

Students help community members adopt sustainable habitsTwo photos that show students presenting their research projects to a crowd. 

A group of McMaster students from SUSTAIN 3S03 helped elementary school students adopt greener modes of transportation, and created a platform for campus community members to give unwanted items a second life.

Toward a net zero carbon campus

President David Farrar talks to Director of Sustainability Dave Cano about McMaster’s plan to get to net-zero carbon emissions, the many sustainability initiatives underway across campus, and about Cano’s lifelong passion for sustainability.


McMaster researcher crouches in a stone path holding a tablet. He is surrounded by trees and grass.

Sustainability research at McMaster

McMaster student Danielle Montocchio stands in a wetland holding a fish in her hands. PhD student enlists citizen scientists and Stanford AI researchers to study fish in Georgian Bay

Growing up, Danielle Montocchio had gone on family camping trips around Georgian Bay. And once she learned about wetlands, it was clear what she wanted to study and protect.

A pair of North Atlantic right whales interact at the surface of Cape Cod Bay, in Massachusetts, in March, 2023.Analysis: New technologies could de-acidify the oceans – and even remove carbon dioxide in the process

In the effort to combat the catastrophic impacts of global warming, new electrochemical technologies might be able help our oceans and the atmosphere, writes chemical engineering professor Charles-Francois de Lannoy.


A portrait of Ingrid Waldron.“This is a time and place for humanities to step out of the shadows and to shine”

Five researchers from the Faculty of Humanities discuss the importance of Earth Day and how their work intersects with social challenges and the environment.

A photo of snow-covered mountains in Yukon.Even microbes felt the impact of ancient climate transitions

Researchers at McMaster traced the impacts of ancient ecological transitions down to the microbial level, finding even bacteria and single-celled organisms changed as the climate around them shifted at the end of the last ice age.

Myles Sergeant stands in front of a hospital building. In one hand he holds a shovel and in the other he holds a potted plant.How health care can help save our frail planet

Myles Sergeant, an assistant clinical professor known for his climate advocacy and initiatives, talks about the dangers of climate change, the power of individuals and the health care sector to drive sustainable change, and his hope to save our “frail planet.”

Analysis: Nuclear energy would be a clean win for remote communitiesA photo of a remote community in the fall, surrounded by water on all sides.

As Canada and the world strive to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, greater use of nuclear power – especially small modular reactors (SMRs) and micro reactors – is key for Canada, writes McMaster president David Farrar and associate vice-president, nuclear, Dave Tucker.

A hazy, smog-filled sky clouds a city. Humanities and Engineering researchers team up to address climate change impacts on Black communities

The weight of the world is not always distributed evenly, especially when it comes to the climate crisis. That’s why McMaster researchers Ingrid Waldron and Zobia Jawed lead workshops that help racialized community members recognize the ways in which climate change affects their lives, and empower them to act.

People stand on frozen Ghost Lake outside a hydro-electric dam near Cochrane, Alta., in December 2020.Analysis: E-fuels can play a huge role in Canada’s journey towards a net-zero future

Engineering researcher Keena Trowell writes that renewables and e-fuels could be instrumental in Canada’s green transition — and that the cited impediments may not be true barriers at all.

Chemical Engineer professor Drew Higgins sits at a bench in his lab. Nanoscale research might help convert CO2 waste into usable products

Think of it as recycling on a nanoscale. Chemical Engineering Professor Drew Higgins and postdoctoral fellow Ahmed Abdellah used extremely powerful magnification equipment to study how synthetic materials that catalyze and convert carbon dioxide break down.

A photo of a cherry blossom tree on campus.

McMaster alumni

A portrait of McMaster Alumni and philanthropists Brad Fairley ('79) and Margaret Gadsby ('78)McMaster alumni reinforce the importance of river science

Streams and rivers are among the most valuable lifelines on our planet. McMaster alumni and philanthropists Brad Fairley (’79) and Margaret Gadsby (’78) know the importance of advancing research that helps strengthen and steward our rivers and streams.

A headshot of Winnie May Chan Making the fashion industry more sustainable, one piece at a time

Winnie May Chan (’15 & ‘17) shares how her time at McMaster led her to a career at the intersection of innovation and sustainability in the textile and apparel sector. 

A headshot of Martin Green Revolutionizing the world’s energy future

Martin Green (’74) has spent his career working to improve the efficiencies of solar cells. The engineer and McMaster grad shares his insights on the future of the industry. 

A headshot of Sharolyn Mathieu Vettese Finding opportunities in the search for energy solutions

McMaster graduate Sharolyn Mathieu Vettese (’76) shares how the great North American blackout of 2003 spurred her to launch a renewable energy company and start a lifelong search for green energy solutions.

A photo of students studying on the grass and under trees on campus.

A sustainable campus

McMaster's campus in fall McMaster surpasses targets for carbon reduction investments

The university has reduced the carbon intensity of its investments by 70 per cent, exceeding its original goal of 65 per cent by 2025.

A person gardening New nesting garden to help boost population of native bees

The garden was designed to accommodate the different types of environments these important pollinator species like to nest in.

An office chair tucked under a deskNew office supply reuse program launches for McMaster faculty and staff

Unwanted campus office furniture is matched with new owners, giving these supplies a second life and saving them from the landfill.

McMaster continues to divest from fossil fuel investmentsThe exterior of University Hall on McMaster's campus

Fossil fuel companies now make up just 2.7 per cent of McMaster’s investment portfolio, down from 4.5 per cent in 2018.

New geothermal green energy system on campusGreen fern leaves encased in a maroon circle

McMaster will heat its new campus greenhouse with emissions-free geothermal energy, and is exploring multiple locations on campus for future geothermal sites.

 Ask a McMaster expert: Net zero carbon campusA headshot of Jim Cotton

Engineering professor Jim Cotton, an expert on sustainable energy, answers questions about McMaster’s plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions on campus.

Read more about McMaster’s Sustainability Strategy here

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