Making it Happen – The Transition to a Sustainable Society points to 100 barriers to sustainability on the basis of a year long research project undertaken by the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa. Many of these barriers can be removed through improved cooperation among governments and better ways of measuring and promoting successes.

Project Director, André Potworowski, Adjunct Professor of the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa said the research shows that there is a lot of confusion around the basic concept of sustainability among Canadians and new initiatives are needed to illustrate more forcefully how Canada can achieve this environmental goal. “To get Canadians moving on this, we need a simpler terminology. We need to brand sustainability, to show its benefits and explain how it can be measured – we need to market that concept to Canadians. The federal government is in the best position to lead us through that,” he said.

Making It Happen maintains that Canada already has all the technology that Canadians need to reduce greenhouse gases by 60% within two decades. But what's stopping us from deploying these technologies are deep rooted institutional, legal, regulatory and manpower barriers.

Some of the 100 barriers identified include the lack of standards and proper metrics, inadequate financial instruments to pay for energy conserving measures, restricted leasing contracts and an insufficient supply of skilled labour. The report’s findings were presented at a special briefing held today in Ottawa.

Making it Happen says the federal government should start by setting a compelling example. For instance, a federal government department can be disinclined to implement energy conserving measures because it is a tenant and not the owner of the building it inhabits. The divergent interests of landlord and tenant are a barrier to action that can be overcome by a new leasing arrangement between the department and the agency that acts as its landlord.

The report also points out that while Canadian homes should all be energy efficient, it would require a million trained contractors to retrofit all existing housing units in Canada for energy efficiency. There are no provisions currently to train or certify this number of building contractors.

The report calls on the federal government to take on a role of leadership by example, by facilitation and by direction.

The report’s findings and conclusions are based on reviews of visions of sustainability proposed over the last 30 years, four workshops and panels with subject matter experts and practitioners, and follow-up research, some carried out by MBA students, on past practices.

The report is available on line at

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For more information:

André Potworowski
Telfer School of Management
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Shaun Markey
Shaun Markey Communications
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