May 25, 2020

You’ve got (sustainable) mail

Derek Kogstad wins 2020 Individual Staff Sustainability Award for ‘super mailbox’ concept

While many members of the campus community worked on the completion of MacKimmie Tower, one of Canada’s first net-zero buildings, Derek Kogstad, manager, distribution services, was engrossed in one thing: mailboxes.

And not just any mailbox — Kogstad, along with Haskayne School of Business students participating in a Campus as Learning Lab project, envisioned a ‘super mailbox’ for the new MacKimmie Tower that streamlined campus mail delivery to a single drop-off point. Kogstad and his team wanted to decrease delivery costs and greenhouse gas emissions resulting from campus mail delivery. This unique project won him a 2020 UCalgary Individual Staff Sustainability Award.

“Through a Campus as a Learning Lab project, Haskayne students evaluated how UCalgary delivers mail,” says Kogstad. “Right now, our trucks drive from dock to dock around campus and are constantly going up and down elevators for individual deliveries, which can be time consuming and produces emissions.

We determined that it would be far more efficient to have one person go to three or four locations on campus to drop off mail. We refer to this idea as the ‘super mailbox.’

While the super mailbox is still in the review and approval stage, Kogstad is eager to keep the sustainability-focused momentum within Distribution Services. In the future, his team will also look at sustainable delivery models for UCalgary residences.

“The amount of online shopping that happens within residences is huge. UCalgary receives approximately 17,000 pieces of freight each month, and out of that, 3,000 of those pieces are for students in residence,” says Kogstad. “Students are ordering from multiple online retailers, and we want to see if we can develop a more sustainable e-commerce and delivery method for them.”

A lifelong learner and collaborator

Kogstad has worked at UCalgary for 20 years, and knows the campus well. In the past few years, he has been working with the Office of Sustainability to learn how to embed sustainability into the operations of the Distribution Services team. In addition, he is also pursuing a logistics designation that incorporates many sustainability modules and concepts specific to the distribution industry. His lifelong learning has also influenced his understanding of what sustainability means and how it can be applied in different contexts.

“At one time, sustainability meant I put the right waste in the right stream. Now, I think it is increasingly about collaboration and responsibility,” says Kogstad. “We might not change the world today, but we can work together on the things that we can control. I encourage everyone to reach out to their peers when they run into a sustainability challenge and ask, ‘Together, how can we come up with a solution?’ It’s the collaborative small steps that will make a major difference over time.”

Kogstad’s sustainability initiatives in Distribution Services support United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals 9, 11, 12, 13 and 17.

The University of Calgary’s Institutional Sustainability Strategy provides a road map for continuous improvement in our pursuit of excellence and leadership in sustainability. We aim to become a Canadian post-secondary education leader in sustainability in our academic and engagement programs, administrative and operational practices and through supporting community and industry in their aims for leadership in sustainability. Learn more about UCalgary’s leadership in sustainability.