Sustainability action plans steer university toward sustainable future

The university’s Sustainability Action Plan guides efforts across campus to achieve greater sustainability in operations. The final report on the Sustainability Action Plan: 2014 - 2019 shows that significant progress has been made over the past five years toward the plan’s 32 goals.

According to the report, the university has reduced operational greenhouse gas emissions by 25% below the 2010 baseline. “Addressing climate change through natural gas and emissions reductions projects remains a key objective,” says Mike Wilson, director of campus planning and sustainability. “Since 2014 we’ve made significant progress towards supporting the global emissions reduction targets set out in the Paris Agreement.”

The report shows that natural gas consumption intensity on campus has decreased by 22% below 2010 levels—due both to operational improvements and investments in new technology, such as a geothermal heat exchange system in the Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities.  

Between 2014 and 2019, campus fleet diesel consumption decreased by more than 28% and fleet gasoline consumption by almost 9%. Fleet vehicles are gradually being replaced with more fuel-efficient models, with ten Nissan Leaf electric vehicles now in use for tool and trade transport.

Sustainability Action Plan 2020-2021

The Sustainability Action Plan: Campus Operations 2020-2021 carries forward goals from the previous plan while setting new goals and actions for each category. The plan identifies short-term strategies, actions and metrics for the interim period between the close-out of the 2019 plan and the development of the university’s first Climate and Sustainability Action Plan.

“The action plan will require a collaborative effort from students, staff and faculty working together to achieve our sustainability goals,” says Wilson.  These goals include reducing institutional GHG emissions and campus natural gas consumption by 30 per cent by Dec. 31, 2021, as well as reducing emissions in areas such as new building construction, building renovations and fleet emissions, and increasing support for active transportation.

An Energy Master Plan that provides a technical pathway to achieve long-term reduction targets for building GHG emissions is also underway.

“We know that the university has a critical role in responding to the climate crisis,” says Wilson. “We’ll be working cooperatively to develop a Climate and Sustainability Action Plan that responds to the Strategic Framework and offers a comprehensive and integrated approach to moving toward our vision for sustainable futures.”  

An extensive community engagement process will begin in mid-2020, with the new Climate and Sustainability Action Plan expected to be available in early 2022.

Campus Sustainability Fund

The Campus Sustainability Fund empowers community members to develop stakeholder-driven sustainability projects. To date, 24 campus projects have received funding of approximately $72,000. For example, in 2019 the Engineering Lab Wing energy audit received $3,900 to create a 3D thermal imaging model of exterior-facing rooms to assess air leakage and energy loss in that building. Submit your sustainability idea to the Campus Sustainability Fund by Feb. 15. Learn more and view the submission criteria.


In this story

Keywords: sustainability, administrative

People: Mike Wilson

Publication: The Ring

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