Daryl McCartney, Professor Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

For Daryl McCartney, it’s all about balance. As a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alberta and Executive Director of the Edmonton Waste Management Centre of Excellence, McCartney is relied upon to provide guidance, research and solutions to sustainability-related issues on campus and in our city.

With over 25 years of experience in bio solids technology and over 155 journal manuscripts, conference papers and technical report publications authored, McCartney has made significant research, teaching, design and operational contributions to both solid waste management and waste water treatment. As an environmental engineer, he is also focused on the balance around us, especially the balance between the economic, social and environmental needs. It is a balance which McCartney sees in everything he does.
 
“I get up every day knowing that no matter at home or on the job that I’m trying to reduce the impact we have on the environment.”

McCartney’s passion for sustainability reaches back to his days as an undergraduate and master’s student where he helped develop one of the first campus based paper recycling programs at the University of Manitoba.  It is this sustainable spark and self-starting enthusiasm that McCartney sees as essential to the future growth of sustainability on campus.

“The roots of most recycling and sustainability movements on campuses can trace themselves back to the students, and there may or not be academic influence, but it’s the students boots on the ground that actually get things started.”

With this in mind, McCartney makes sure that his students obtain valuable hands-on experience during their time in his classes. In his Solid Waste Management undergraduate and graduate courses, McCartney uses the University of Alberta’s waste system as a mini-model of a city, so the students can help design engineering systems to treat the waste material. This year, McCartney has also included the Edmonton Waste Management Centre of Excellence to assist with the University of Alberta’s waste audit. This partnership has allowed McCartney to integrate students into the audit process by having them perform a shift in gathering waste data.
 
“It makes it more meaningful to the students,” said McCartney.

With the university looking to reduce its overall ecological footprint, the inclusion of student’s research with the work of the University’s Facilities and Operations helps build a better understanding of our current and future waste systems.
 
“It’s great working with the students, to see how passionate they can be about stuff that matters to them.”

McCartney also serves on the Office of Sustainability Academic Advisory Committee of the University of Alberta which brings together members from across the campus sustainability community. With his environmental engineering experience, McCartney highlights the need for balance between the social, environmental and costs associated with sustainability.
 
“We are really helping with learning and understanding how everything fits into the bigger picture,” said McCartney.

Looking ahead, McCartney feels the University of Alberta’s dedication to sustainability is strong as it includes everything from sustainable policy down to grass roots sustainability movements.
 
“The University of Alberta is taking it very seriously,” said McCartney.
 
But this doesn't mean sustainable change will come easy. McCartney still sees many challenges but also plenty of opportunities to develop sustainability both on campus and beyond.

“There is tremendous opportunity and the U of A is right in the middle of it.”