Sustainability in action

Shoes on grass
Consider your footprint. Your decisions will create legacies to be proud of.

At Gustavson we are constantly implementing new ways to tread more lightly on the planet. We choose small daily acts and big annual projects, always with an eye to a leaner budget, happier people, and a healthier community.

Switching off lights and computers when they aren’t in use is an easy way to save power. In 2016, Gustavson employee numbers grew 18% and our electricity use didn't!

Our Low-Carbon Culture Helplist has five pages of ideas for cutting energy and waste at work and at home. You can even check individual suggestions to help yourself commit – and remember! 

"I've used paperless exams for my MBA classes for 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.

Not only does that save trees, processing and transportation, there are benefits for people, too.

"It's 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 easier for me as I can read the writing!"

Everyone at Gustavson recycles: in 2013, we were part of a university pilot study of recycling-at-source to cut the amount of waste that goes to landfill. The pilot was so successful that the program has gone mainstream, with recycling bin stations near all offices and classrooms.

Beginning in the summer of 2017: compost, soft plastics and Styrofoam also became part of the regular UVic waste management program, as they have been at Gustavson for years. As a result, Gustavson's kitchen has no waste containers except for a small compost bin that we take turns to empty into the big one in the lobby.

Every Gustavson printer and copier is set for double-sided printing to help us save trees.

"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. We complete a greenhouse gas emissions inventory every year to measure and help us reduce our carbon footprint. Our recycling and composting programs are second to none on campus. We volunteer on campus and in our communities.

Dr. 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 emphasizes. "Each of us creates it."

In 2017, Gustavson voted to reduce the impact of our travel and commuting emissions by investing in projects that offset those emissions. Our 2016 carbon report is here. The shortlist of projects that Gustavson employees and students are voting on in December 2017 is here.