A Nobel winner from Bayview
Brad Bass on receiving a Nobel Prize as part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change by Sarah Kidd
In the years since Brad Bass walked the halls of York Mills Collegiate Institute as a talented euphonium player and Ontario Scholar, he has gone on to pursue a successful career in environmental science.
Currently working with Environment and Climate Change Canada, he is also an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto and University of Regina and is the associate executive director of the Foundation for Student Science and Technology.
Bass was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 from Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, for his contributions to green roof research, and was part of the team at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) when the organization received a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
“It just so happened that me and about 3,000 other scientists were working with the IPCC at the time,” he says. “I was working in one of the technical groups and was primarily making sure that the output from all the climate models was available for everyone who wanted to use it, no matter what part of the world they were in.”
The IPCC was the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, which was shared with Al Gore.
The organization received the award in recognition of their efforts to disseminate greater knowledge about humangenerated climate change and to lay the foundations to counteract climate change. The IPCC’s scientific reports created a broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming.
Bass didn’t always envision himself in environmental research.
“I actually started off more in economics but got more interested in the environmental side at different parts of my university career,” he says. Ironically, much of his current work is in economics.
After completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto and his graduate degree at Pennsylvania State University, Bass returned to Canada and was offered a visiting fellowship with Environment Canada.
Although his current research is applied to water quality policy analysis, in the mid-1990s Bass helped initiate green roof and green wall research in Canada.
With funding from Natural Resources Canada in collaboration with the National Research Council, a site was built to explore the impact of green infrastructure in the urban environment. The research, although exciting, proved consuming.
“What started off as a minor side project became the major focus of my career for many years,” he says.
Later, the research he and his colleagues produced was used by the City of Toronto in assessing the benefits of green roofs and in making the case for its green roof bylaw. When the bylaw passed in 2009, Toronto became the first city in North America to require and govern the construction of green roofs on new developments with a minimum gross floor area of 2,000 square metres.
Although now terms like “green roofs” and “vertical gardens” are a recognizable part of the environmental lexicon, Bass gives credit to cities for its growth.
“It probably wouldn’t have become as big as it has if it wasn’t for the municipalities taking it on as something they wanted to do,” he says. “They were really the first level of government to give it a lot of support.”
Bass currently works with Environment and Climate Change Canada