Sustainability and Working Together – Meet Adam Brown

Adam Brown grew up exploring the many shorelines and forests of Cape Breton Island before taking his scientific curiosity to the next level by pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at CBU. Following this, Adam moved to Halifax for nearly ten years where he pursued his graduate studies at Dalhousie University and worked in the science education field at the Discovery Centre. 

Adam has since returned to Cape Breton and in August of 2023, accepted a new role at CBU as the Sustainability Coordinator. “My role is to coordinate existing and new sustainability efforts at CBU – to consider, interact with and report on this topic in a very broad and applied sense across the University and community,“ Adam says. “I’m enjoying building a network of sustainability champions and ambassadors across the University and into the community and look forward to putting that network into action.”

Sustainability is a term that is open to interpretation and Adam believes it’s safe to assume sustainability will have a different meaning to each person in any given conversation. To quote from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), sustainability is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Adam emphasizes that the term sustainability is not synonymous with the term ‘green’, as many people are led to believe. Adam’s own job description cites that his position encompasses social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Despite this being a new dedicated role for CBU, the University has a long history of sustainability initiatives. This latest addition is simply the next step toward CBU achieving its many sustainability goals. “The very origin of the University itself is an exercise in community sustainability and sustainable community economic development through educating our local population for a knowledge-based economy,” says Adam. “Now, we’re working on a framework to give people at CBU a common language around sustainability to help them all pull in the same direction, give credit for the good work they’re doing and employ a standard and data-driven program to highlight gaps and areas for growth.”

Adam has high praise for the University’s continued sustainability efforts, including the commitment to build on its electrification and energy efficiency efforts with the COMFIT Gardiner Mines Wind Farm, the Canada Games Complex solar roof installation and Low-Carbon Facility strategy. “Educators and researchers have already begun engaging with me about sustainability in their curricula or programs,” he begins. “I’ve been getting involved in the community, particularly in discussions about food and transportation. We also hosted the CBVRCE Science Fair in March, with the theme of Netukulimk.”

It’s no secret that CBU is a large organization within the community; the ever-growing staff paired with the student body combines to make up thousands of people. “CBU is a large employer, a large purchaser, a large disposer and we induce lots of transportation and energy demand. Regardless of what we’re actually doing here, we’re doing it as a large group of people, as a community,” Adam says. “In this setting, we can make larger or more ambitious changes that might not be feasible at smaller scales. We can also provide leadership as a first mover locally, which can lower the barrier for entry for other organizations.”

Over the past six months, Adam has been carefully building a network within the University and the community in an effort to learn about the various projects, processes and efforts toward sustainability. He soon hopes to formalize this network, giving it an official name such as the ‘Sustainability Network’ or ‘Sustainability Hub’. 

Adam says he’s not the sole leader of sustainability efforts at the University, but rather an organizer, facilitator and communicator who can help drive a variety of initiatives. More and more people throughout the University are continuing to step up and show their dedication to these efforts. A group of students recently created the CBU Student Sustainability Society, made up of CBU students from a variety of programs and backgrounds who have a shared interest in sustainability with the community. 

Until now much of Adam’s work has been relationship and network building. But, soon enough he intends to shift his focus toward more data collection for the purposes of informed-reporting and evidence-based decision making. 

With Earth Day around the corner, Adam has one piece of advice for community members. “Your greatest power is in your social and professional connections with others; therefore, work collectively to achieve change that is greater than you could achieve alone,” he says. “It’s important to get our own house in order, to consider our own decisions, our consumption, our waste, our impact, but your personal actions are a drop in the global bucket. Don’t let that discourage you; do those individual things, but also talk about it with your friends and family and organize in your local community to create greater change.”

To learn more about CBU’s Climate Action Commitment, visit