News & Insights

Global Questions in Sustainability

Dillon Consulting recently teamed up with students in the Global Questions in Sustainability course from McMaster University. The collaboration was designed so that students from multiple facilities and academic perspectives could learn more about real-world, industry-based applications of sustainability principles. Reciprocally, Dillon was able to benefit from their academic perspectives on this timely and critical topic.

“The Global Questions in Sustainability course was created to give students the ability to challenge their thoughts on sustainability from multiple points of view. With this collaboration, the students have a unique opportunity to understand how the knowledge they acquire through sustainability courses can be impactfully integrated into practical applications. Students enjoyed the chance to take their knowledge and  apply it to the community project concepts presented by Dillon Consulting.”

Dr. John Maclachlan, Professor

Students were introduced to Dillon Consulting and provided multiple videos outlining our current, ongoing work in Sustainability from each of our eight Business Units (Community Infrastructure, Community Strategies, Contaminated Sites Management, Environmental Management, Facilities, Land Development, Transportation and Waste Management).

We then asked students to provide input on future sustainability approaches for one (or more) of Dillon’s  Business Units: what haven’t we thought of, and how else could we increase the use of sustainability principles in our work and across our communities?

Student submissions were evaluated by each of the Business Unit Managers on the following criteria:

  • Practicality: could it be applied to a real-world scenario?
  • Effectiveness: if applied, would it be successful, and what would be the magnitude of the impact?
  • Cost Benefit: would the benefit be higher than the cost required to implement the idea?

Through this assignment, the students gained knowledge of current, real-world sustainability applications, while also allowing them the opportunity to measurably and positively impact the world around them by sharing their ideas for future applications.

The submissions were thoroughly vetted by Dillon Consulting and reviewed for potential application to current and future community applications. Of the approximately 125 student entries, one concept per Business Unit was chosen to be featured as an example of the students innovative and sustainable thinking.  Read the highlights below of the chosen submissions for each Business Unit:

Community Infrastructure

  • Lena Wang: Investigating the integration of energy production into civic renewal and infrastructure

Community Strategies

  • Zoya Hasan: Increase integration of equitable health planning service with First Nation communities

Contaminated Sites Management

  • Jugal Amin: When full remediation is not possible and ecological risk mitigation is the viable solution, conversion of contaminated lands in cold regions into large-scale data centre warehouses, thereby taking advantage of existing electrical service infrastructure and minimizing human exposure.

Environmental Management

  • Samantha Cheng: Investigation of basalt application to agriculture as a mechanism to further sequester CO2.


  • Marina Boutros Salama: Develop ways to increase existing building’s life spans while controlling/upgrading their performance, energy consumption and maintenance fees.

Land Development

  • Jugal Amin: Increasing water retention and heat reducing surfaces in low income neighborhoods to help mitigate the economic burden of thermo-regulation


  • Consideration of climate change adaptation measures with regards to snow removal practices on permafrost.

Waste Management

  • Incorporation of circular approaches during initial infrastructure design to incorporate materials that are easily recycled at end-of-life, can be reused in other building applications, or use of  low carbon energy sources.

Contact us to further discuss how #SustainabilityMatters.