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Sustainable Development, Circular Economy and Environmental Issues: Striving to Create a Better World

Humanity is facing major challenges, such as climate change, the availability of resources and the preservation of biodiversity, to name but a few. The field of engineering and technological developments will play a major role in creating a sustainable future. In addition, the complexity of these challenging issues requires that they be studied from every through an interdisciplinary approach.

Toward this end, researchers in engineering, health sciences and social sciences and humanities have combined forces into two research groups led by ÉTS in the interrelated fields of sustainable development and the circular economy.

Three people sitting outdoors doing research with a drone

Research at ÉTS

The negative impact of human activity on the environment is well documented. This impact contributes to climate change, which affects economic activities, wellness and the safety of communities. One of our priorities is to find methods, tools and processes that can reduce these effects, along with ways to use resources in a sustainable and circular manner for the population in general, governments or universities.

At ÉTS, this issue is a particular focus of our interdisciplinary research teams, who are working to optimize the use of resources from the perspective of the circular economy: reducing waste matter, creating new water, air and soil treatment processes and promoting sustainable urban agriculture and development.

The CIRODD: supporting the socio-environmental transition through sustainable innovation and transdisciplinarity

ÉTS is the host for interuniversity strategic research cluster comprising 90 researchers and 200 students called the Interdisciplinary Centre for research, development and the operationalization of sustainable development (CIRODD), which is funded by the FRQNT-FRQSC. The focus is to accelerate the transformation of society toward supporting the socio-environmental transition through sustainable innovation and transdisciplinarity. As such, CIRODD aims to catalyze, enlighten, advise, mobilize and support societal decision-makers and stakeholders in making decision based on the best scientific knowledge and practices.

The CERIEC: A space for researchers and engineering students to conduct experiments

The Center for Intersectoral Studies and Research on the Circular Economy (CERIEC) provides a space for researchers and engineering students to conduct experiments, particularly in the area of innovations designed to maximize benefits for economic actors, governments and civil society. Certain priority sectors or business strategies will be deployed in "circular economy living labs". Based on the model of living labs, these labs are developed and managed via an ecosystem approach involving all stakeholders.

The Québec Circular Economy Research Network

The Québec Circular Economy Research Network (RRECQ), led by four co-directors (ÉTS, HEC Montréal, Université Laval and Polytechnique Montréal), includes more than 100 researchers from some 20 establishments. It provides an environment that promotes the development of both social and technological knowledge and innovation and assumes the role of facilitator, promoting the networking, advancement and transfer of knowledge.

An Overview of the Québec Clean Technologies Sector

Innovations that have a favourable impact on the environment are called clean technologies. In Quebec, this is an emerging sector:  Companies in the domain are generally small in size and the innovations they design are often in the pre-commercialization phase.  They must therefore adapt and refine their products in order to satisfy their target markets. 

As this is a new area, there would be great added value in creating demonstration platforms to validate and quantify the environmental benefits and economic resources of these technologies under realistic conditions.  Companies could then demonstrate the capabilities of their products to potential customers while the universities could use them to train their students. 

To this end, the needs of the environment sector in the field of research are such that entrepreneurs must rapidly expand their knowledge base. Training the next generation must rely on a multidisciplinary path which links environmental concepts to the characteristics of application areas.

Environmental Research at ÉTS
More than 60 professors do research related to sustainable development
It’s the percentage of environmental research that is conducted in partnership
Research chairs and units related to environment and sustainable development

Chairs and research units related to sustainable development, circular economy and environment

Against a backdrop of climate change, gaining a better understanding of the hydrology of glaciers and snow is crucial to managing water resources. Icon
Michel Baraër: The Hydrology of Glaciers and Snow in Tropical and Subarctic Regions

The two main passions that drive the work of Michel Baraër, a professor in the Construction Engineering Department, are glaciers and snow, along with their vulnerability to climate change. These two passions have also led this expert in Alpine and northern hydrology to travel to tropical and subarctic regions.

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Lucas Hof, professeur au Département de génie mécanique de l'ÉTS, est spécialisé dans les matériaux et la fabrication
By reducing waste and manufacturing costs for companies, we become good for the environment. Icon
Lucas Hof: Working to create sustainable and intelligent manufacturing systems

Creating intelligent manufacturing processes for optimal integration into the circular economy concerns the ecological characteristics of sustainable development in addition to reducing manufacturing costs for companies.

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