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Posted November 9, 2009
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Environment & Business

University of Waterloo launches SEED with over $23 million in donations

WATERLOO - The University of Waterloo launched North America's first school focusing on environmentally responsible business and development with more than $23 million in donations.

The school of environment, enterprise and development (SEED), centered in Waterloo's faculty of environment, will provide sustainable solutions to key local and global environmental, social and developmental challenges through education, research and training. SEED's graduates will be equipped to create successful organizations in a world with increasing demands for energy and environmental sustainability.

SEED offers a set of degrees that integrate environment, business and development education. To accomplish this, SEED merged the university's highly respected environment and business programs with a new international development program.

Increasingly, companies are counting on professionals to help them meet their environmental sustainability goals while ensuring that their businesses continue to thrive.

"We are grateful that five corporate and foundation leaders are generously investing in the faculty of environment with financial support and gifts-in-kind," said Deep Saini, Waterloo's dean of environment. "With their help, we will be able to ensure that our graduates have the skills to develop business sustainability plans within an environmentally attuned framework. We are entering a new phase of enterprise - a quantum leap from how traditional business practices have been viewing and managed."

The five corporate and foundation leaders and their donations are: GE Energy, with $6 million in software gift-in-kind; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, with $200,000 in cash; Oracle Canada ULC, Safe Software Inc., with $1 million in software; and Zerofootprint, with over $1 million to launch a new lab in the Faculty.
"GE Energy's Smallworldù software is all about discovery," said Martin Ansell, general manager of the Smallworld software division of GE Energy's transmission and distribution business. "Companies use it every day to discover more productive, efficient ways to allocate resources and interact with customers. Our $6-million donation of GE Energy's Smallworld solution is given in the spirit of discovery. We're confident the students in SEED will leverage the power of GE Energy's Smallworld software to discover new ways to help business and industry maximize their service performance while minimizing their effects on the environment."

Their support allows SEED's faculty, researchers and students to access advanced geospatial data infrastructure along with analytic and processing tools in. The tools will broaden their knowledge in the rapidly emerging field of environmental business, which includes green networking, carbon measurement, green supply chain management and sustainable business strategy.The MacArthur Foundation supports rigorous professional training for future leaders in the field of sustainable development. The foundation's contribution will go toward establishing a master's degree in development practice.

"We are always pleased to support universities in their GIS education programs," said Don Murray, president and co-founder of Safe Software Inc. "We hope that our software donation will help the University of Waterloo deliver the best education possible to the geographic information systems (GIS) professionals of our future."

Zerofootprint's donation will name a novel ZEROlab in the faculty. The gift provides the software and hosting infrastructure needed by researchers to begin investigations into carbon footprint analysis.

"The ZEROlab is a place where faculty and students can experiment and create tools and products that will have an impact on climate change," said Ron Dembo, founder and chief executive officer of Zerofootprint and a graduate of Waterloo. "That information, when made available on an open source basis, will allow developers and policy-makers to better understand the benefits of efficient design and development."

Funding support is on top of a contribution last year from Export Development Canada to fund a chair in environmental finance.

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