UVic's built and natural environments

David Turpin
Green roofs not only help reduce the load on municipal infrastructure, they are beautiful to boot!


UVic is committed to progressive green building technologies and design, and accountability in building maintenance and performance that meets the needs of the campus community.

In 2020, we began construction of the new Student Housing and Dining buildings. The project demonstrates our commitment to sustainability, as the design and construction of the new buildings will meet LEED Gold and Passive House standards. 

Our 2020-2021 Sustainability Action Plan goals are: 

  • Goal 1:  All new buildings will achieve the standard of LEED V4 Gold certification or equivalent certification. Major additions to existing buildings will also strive to achieve LEED V4 Gold or equivalent certification.
  • Goal 2: All new building projects and major building additions will provide for a high-performance building envelope and passive design strategies to promote energy efficiency, climate resilience and greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
  • Goal 3: Evaluate the suitability of capital projects at the project planning and project management phases for opportunities to integrate measures that improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • Goal 4: Utilize sustainable operational and building maintenance practices in all campus buildings and facilities. 
  • Goal 5: Promote an extraordinary academic environment by evaluating all new buildings and major additions for opportunities for research, education, innovation and continuous improvement.

Learn more about our green buildings below. 


UVic's building standards are informed by B.C. government policy which requires that all newly constructed public sector buildings achieve Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold or equivalent certification. The LEED certification is recognized as the international mark of excellence for green building in 150 countries, and has helped us reduce energy use in new buildings, reduce waste and carbon emissions from construction, and reduce water use in buildings through the installation of green roofs and rain gardens. 

Since 2007, all our new buildings on campus have been constructed to a LEED Gold standard. 

UVic has nine certified LEED Gold rating buildings: 

  • District Energy Plant (2020)
  • Facilities Management Service building (2019)
  • CARSA (2017)
  • South Tower Residence (2011)
  • First Peoples House (2009)
  • Michael Williams Building (2008)
  • David Turpin (formerly Social Sciences and Math) (2008)
  • Engineering and Computer Science (2006)
  • Medical Sciences (2004)


Cleaning and maintenance

UVic's Cleaning Services is dedicated to providing a clean and healthy environment for the campus community as outlined in our Green Cleaning Policy and Program. The Green Cleaning Policy and program aims to reduce the exposure of building occupants and maintenance personnel to potentially hazardous chemical biological, and particulate contaminates, which adversely affect air quality, human health, building finishes, building systems and the environment. 

In addition, all of our furniture, flooring, window covering manufacturers/suppliers and paints are producing products that are safe for intended usage with low to zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs). 


UVic's campus is shaped by the unique ecological and natural environment and community context of the campus setting within greater Victoria and the west coast. 

The 2016 Campus Plan sets policy directions for the landscapes and natural areas of campus in support of our academic mission. Our 2020-2021 Sustainability Action Plan goals are: 

  • Goal 1: Protect and manage the ecological diversity of the natural areas on campus and enhance the use of native species in campus landscape management.
  • Goal 2: Develop a formalized Integrated Pest Management Plan as part of the overall grounds management system.
  • Goal 3: Reduce the quantity and improve the water quality of stormwater on campus that enters the local drainage and stream networks.

Water-conscious landscapes on campus

UVic's Grounds and Environmental department are committed to reducing our environmental impact and sustaining UVic's natural landscapes through the use of sustainable practices. 

  • Planting drought-tolerant plants to minimize water usage.
  • A weather station (located outside of the Saunders Building) measures rain fall, wind speed, wind direction, solar radiation and humidity to provide an evapotranspiration rate to adjust irrigation run times around campus automatically. 

  • Flow sensors monitor for excess volume of water and will shut down if triggered and send alerts. These tools helps us monitor how much water is being used and give us significant control over our water usage.

  • Monitoring campus irrigation to find and report broken sprinklers for repair

  • Monitoring the health of plants. For example, if a tree is suffering from drought, a water truck will supplement it with water 

  • Regular testing of the irrigation system to ensure it's working properly and only watering where needed in shrub beds and lawns versus roadways or pathways

Natural areas

UVic's campus contains a number of forest and wetland areas that are environmentally important, and are actively used as a resource for teaching and research, and for passive recreation.

These natural areas offer diverse vegetation typologies, including natural meadow and wood areas that are home to Garry Oak, Big Leaf Maple, Alder Red Osier Dogwood, Douglas Fir, Hemlock and other conifers, as well as a variety of native shrubs and wildflowers. 

The protected natural areas include: 

  • Bowker Creek: The University of Victoria is a partner in the Bowker Creek Initiative and steward of the headwaters. For more information visit the Bowker Creek Blueprint: 100-year plan
  • Garry Oak meadow and Camas Meadow: is located to the North-West of Finnerty Gardens.  
  • Cunningham Woods: is a small 1-acre Douglas Fir forest area located inside Ring Road. 
  • South Woods: is one of the largest wooded areas on campus and consists of mainly second growth forest. 
  • Mystic Vale and Hobbs Creek: is a 11.6 acres area containing trees ranging in age up to an estimated 300-500 years, and is the headwaters of Hobbs Creek. The public access paths throughout the Vale make it a popular and well-used location. The  hosts monthly volunteer activities to remove invasive species from the area. 

Landscaped areas

The landscaped areas are more highly-managed landscapes with transitional areas that merge into the natural and wooded landscapes. 

The landscape throughout the more developed portions of campus include lawn and small planted areas, which largely occur between buildings. 

The landscaped areas include: 

  • The Quadrangle: is a large, rectangular lawn area in the centre of campus that allows for informal programming and use. It is the hub of activity on campus. 
  • the Campus Community Garden: is a food garden at the north end of campus. 
  • Finnerty Gardens: is a landscaped woodland garden at the south end of campus. The Gardens are home to one of Canada's best collections of rhododendrons. The Gardens have been carefully planned and developed to provide a rich and changing array of colour, scent, form and texture all year round. 

Biodiversity Conservation and Invasive Species Management

At the University of Victoria, we are committed to environmental stewardship and biodiversity conservation. Our policies are geared towards reducing the impact of alien species on campus and ensuring the protection of IUCN Red Listed and national conservation species in areas affected by our operations.

To fulfill these commitments, our dedicated team actively monitors and protects these valuable species, guided by the latest research and conservation initiatives. Our campus community is invited to participate in invasive removal events that are put on in partnership with the Greater Victoria Green Team.

We are committed to staying informed and adaptive, and our conservation efforts align with explicit language from the IUCN and national lists of conservation species. Learn more about our strategies for Alien Species Reduction and Conservation of Protected Species by exploring the resources linked below.