Our Clients: UBC Campus Sustainability Office

Since 2001, UBC Campus Sustainability has operated a program called UBC SEEDS (http://www.sustain.ubc.ca/seeds) that brings together staff, faculty and students to work collaboratively on the development and implementation of projects that address real-life, campus sustainability challenges.

For example, the manager of UBC Custodial Services posed the question, "What is a sustainable choice for our washrooms on campus: paper towels or hand dryers?" SEEDS took this question to appropriate faculty members, who then engaged their students in research that answered the question, from the perspective of product life-cycle and health considerations. Students get academic credit for their work, the faculty member teaches with interesting real-word problems, and the university benefits as a whole.

"At the beginning we had a very simple database that really didn't meet our needs," said Brenda Sawada, manager of the SEEDS program. Over the years, interest in sustainability grew, the size of the program doubled, and a new database was needed to keep track of all the useful research that had already gone on -- about 150 research papers in the 2010-2011 academic year alone.

In the fall of 2010, Oak Bay Softrends was called in. They developed a new database that keeps all staff, faculty and student contacts, plus all the projects and their final reports categorized and organized. The database provides a simple to use, efficient interface for the staff to enter and query this information.

The database helps Brenda track and manage the progress of each project across multiple terms and school years, send "thank yous" at appropriate times, track communication, and generate useful reports.

"It's quite intuitive. We got everything we asked for and more," said Brenda.

Most importantly, thanks to a detailed back-and-forth process with the Oak Bay Softrends developers, the final database was well tested and refined, and since launch, there's been little need to go back for fixes or changes.

"Oak Bay were extremely easy to work with and very obliging," Brenda said. "Since completion, I don't think we've phoned them once."

Oak Bay is always extremely pleased with a successful project, especially one that is going to have such far-reaching and long-lasting effects.

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