By Mark Lowey
Energy giant TransAlta has teamed up with the University of Calgary, through the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy (ISEEE), to create a new professorship focused on the environment and sustainability.
The first TransAlta Professor of Environmental Management and Sustainability is Dr. Robert (Bob) Page, currently vice-president, sustainable development at TransAlta, and former dean of the U of C’s Faculty of Environmental Design.
The new position will be based within the Energy and Environmental Systems Group of ISEEE, the Faculty of Environmental Design and the Haskayne School of Business.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity to come back to the U of C, and about the prospect of working with world-ranking figures like David Keith (U of C’s Canada Research Chair in Energy and the Environment) and Michal Moore (ISEEE Senior Fellow),” Page says.
“I’m also looking forward to renewing my working relationships in both the Faculty of Environmental Design and the Haskayne School of Business.”
In addition to teaching and supervising graduate students, Page’s responsibilities will include bringing together leaders from industry, government and other post-secondary institutes and research organizations to address the most pressing challenges—and tap the most exciting opportunities—in the area of sustainable energy, environment and economy.
“This innovative new professorship, created with TransAlta’s support, exemplifies the University of Calgary’s integrative approach to environmental management and sustainability,” says Dr. Harvey Weingarten, U of C’s President and Vice-Chancellor.
“Dr. Page will help us work with industry and other partners to advance a top priority in the U of C’s Academic Plan—to be an international leader in energy and environment, an area that is strategically important for Alberta and the rest of Canada.”
Steve Snyder, TransAlta president and CEO, says TransAlta’s investment exemplifies their core belief that sustainable development is a key component of how the company conducts business.
“Dr. Page’s leadership skills and reasoned approach gained him respect among government leaders, our industry peers, non-governmental organizations and academics alike. We look forward to working with him and the ISEEE.”
Page is known nationally and internationally for his work on energy and the environment in areas such as climate change, emissions trading, environmental impact assessment, and policy and regulation. At TransAlta, he was responsible for the corporation’s proactive approach to addressing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming and climate change.
Working within ISEEE and its partner faculties’ collaborative, multidisciplinary and mission-oriented framework, Page will engage in innovative research, education and outreach to advance environmental management and sustainability at the regional, national and international levels.
“We are very excited about this new professorship and Dr. Page’s appointment, and we look forward to working with him on projects that will help ensure we have secure, competitive energy supplies, a sustainable environment and a strong economy,” says Dr. Robert Mansell, ISEEE’s managing director.
The U of C created ISEEE in 2003 to deliver on a top priority—Leading Innovation in Energy and the Environment—in the U of C’s academic plan, and to help make the university an international leader in the area.
Page, who confided that he had attractive offers to join other schools, said “it was the ISEEE model that above all was the deciding factor for me in terms of coming to the U of C.”
Alberta has the fastest-growing expansion of oil production anywhere in the world, due to massive oilsands development, he noted. “This presents enormous economic opportunities for us. But we have to do it right.”
Page said he wants to help advance the development of “clean” coal technology for the power-generating sector, along with systems to capture and permanently store underground power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions. This would keep the emissions out of the atmosphere where they accumulate and contribute to global warming and climate change.
Page, an adjunct professor of environmental science at the U of C, is a member of the environment committee of the National Chamber of Commerce. He is also on the board of directors for the Clean Air Strategic Alliance of Alberta, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, and the Canadian Water Network. He is chair of the Board of BIOCAP Canada, has served as a member of the Canadian delegation to negotiations on the Kyoto climate change treaty, and is a member of the PEW Centre, Business Environmental Leadership Council in Washington, D.C.