College continues to deliver on its valuation of sustainability, produces like-minded students and grads

By Hiatt Abendschoen

RRC has been named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for the tenth year in a row. Staff, students and alumni are proud to participate in the green culture at Red River College.

Tyler Nelson, graduate of the Environmental Engineering Technology program in 2012, said he remembers the college delivering on its pillar of sustainability.

“I’m not at all surprised they would receive that kind of recognition,” he said. “They’re one of the shining examples of sustainability in post-secondary.”

Nelson, account manager at GFL Environmental, was a founding member of the Notre Dame Environmental Group in 2012. The group campaigned for the eventual implementation of bottle refill stations on campus.

Employees at GFL Environmental work in managing waste and hazardous materials sustainably. GFL has been developing a pilot project for the last two years to repurpose used oil into marine fuel, said Tyler Nelson, account manager for GFL.

Eight years after graduating, Nelson still keeps his notes and textbooks easily accessible in his home office.

“[RRC] helped me become a well-rounded civil engineer in the environmental field…and do a lot of environmental consulting,” he said.

He commends RRC on their progress, adaptiveness, and attention to sustainability issues. He explained he and his peers were instrumental in changing the name of the program from Environmental Protection Technology to Environmental Engineering Technology.

“[The words ‘Environmental Protection’] tend to gear towards thinking about a tree-hugger or ‘save the whales,’ which I’m totally that kind of guy but I don’t want that stigma when I’m going to a job interview,” he said.

Students from RRC participating in the Grow-A-Row project with Winnipeg Harvest in 2019.

Shannon Nordal graduated in 2018 and now delivers the Environmental Management course as part of the EET major.

“I really enjoyed the program, and that’s why I’m back so quickly,” she said. “I felt it was important to be a part of the future solution.”

She said provincial legislations around sustainability are tightening up because of social awareness and pressures. She says the increased size of graduates in her field is a good thing.

“That translates to the need for more environmental professionals as we act as liaison between the governments rules and the interests of the client.”

One of the challenges in EET, Nordal said, is balancing sound environmental practices and appeasing clients with finances at stake. She is proud to be employed by an organization that values that balance.

“To actually be acknowledged and awarded proves there is action behind the words… [Sustainability] is something we’re always working toward.”

Leah Buermeyer, recent Business Administration Technology grad, was president and founder of the Student Sustainability Club at the Exchange District Campus in 2019-20.

“Being a sustainable employer is appealing to potential employees,” she said. Buermeyer is actively applying for jobs and said the values and ethics of an employer will influence her interest.

She said COVID-19 cut short the implementation of a composting project at EDC, but the club will continue to push for it. She describes both RRC and RRCSA as supportive of student-led initiatives.

Buermeyer said she hopes RRC can improve communication between students and sustainability initiatives, so engagement increases, and practices become more effective.

“There needs to be a community to make it happen… It’s important for bigger organizations to practice sustainability because they have the resources, the expertise, and the people who can do the research. Then, they can lead by example.”

To see RRC’s list of past, current, and future initiatives along with the award announcement visit: