Gustavson's strong sustainability pillar supports tangible actions and effective change from day to day, in the course of the year, and over the longer term. Reducing our footprint leads directly to a healthy triple bottom line: a smarter budget, happier people, and better relationships across campus.
Switching off lights and computers while they aren’t in use is an easy way to save power. During a three-month challenge in 2011, Business and Economics Building users cut their electricity consumption by an average of 10 per cent per month! These energy-saving behaviours are now part of the daily routine of faculty and staff who continue to find new ways to reduce energy and waste.
"I've used paperless exams for my MBA classes for the past three years," says Professor Angela Downey. "I provide a paper copy of the exam and they write their responses on the computer."
Dr. Downey explains that because these exams are case studies, the students must do extensive writing. "I have saved two booklets per student each year," she says. "That's 55 students at two booklets equals 110 booklets per year for three years."
Not only does that save trees, processing and transportation, there are benefits for people, too.
"It is better for the students as they can use spreadsheets (remember, I teach accounting!), correct their work, and add to their answers," she says. "It is certainly better for me as I can read the writing!"
Reduce, recycle, and compost
- Both the Business and Economics (BEC) and David Strong buildings are part of a campus-wide pilot initiative to cut energy waste. The buildings' heating will be reduced by a degree or two during times that they're typically not occupied, and lights will be retrofitted to provide the same illumination for seven percent less energy.
- All printers and copiers in BEC print double-sided by default, to reduce paper consumption.
- Every office in BEC has a container for paper recycling. As well, there are bins for mixed paper, cans and bottles, and plastics in the lobby and student computer lab.
- Gustavson faculty and staff compost paper cups, old chopsticks, droopy flowers and all food waste, including coffee grounds, apple cores and even meat and dairy.
- In 2010, the student-driven Sustainability Club piloted a recycling and composting program in the David Strong classroom building that was so successful, university administration has decided to take it mainstream.
- The student computer lab has two wheelchair-accessible water fountains for refilling waterbottles. Plans are in the works for another in the building lobby.
“We build culture by connecting with people,” says associate professor Mark Colgate. ”Culture is every single person playing their role."
This is business as usual at Gustavson, where staff and faculty buy in to sustainability and social responsibility both individually and as a group, in hidden ways and more obvious ones.
Sure Faculty Support Skye Wilk always takes the stairs instead of the elevator. But to make the energy-saving (and calorie-burning) point to more people, she let a photographer capture her walking – or rather, climbing - the talk. Posters show Skye cheerfully charging, well, skyward, to remind students, staff and faculty that they’re doing the planet – and their quads – a favour if they skip the lift.
Colgate's ideas about culture extend into the classroom too. One strategy includes reciprocal mentorships that will help every instructor enhance his or her teaching. Colgate points out he can learn from watching other instructors who might showcase strategies he hasn’t tried yet.
“Other people don’t create the culture," he emphasises. "Each of us creates it.”