Ontario universities going greener: Report
Ontario’s universities are doing more than ever before to track and implement green initiatives on their campuses, according to the “Ontario Universities: Going Greener Report of Campus Sustainability Initiatives”, presented at the Council of Ontario Universities’ (COU) Going Greener Forum at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on November 42010. Ministers John Wilkinson and Glen Murray will be spoke at the forum along with business and public sector experts.
By Craig Pearson
“Understanding where we are now, and where we need to go, are critical steps for determining where to place our efforts to ensure that we are doing all we can to guarantee a competitive and sustainable future for Ontarians,” said Sheldon Levy, Chair of COU and President of Ryerson University. “This year’s report shows that universities are, indeed, making the necessary efforts.”
Beginning with a sustainability pledge in 2009, universities report annually on their environmental progress in a survey administered by COU. This year, the survey covers four areas: 1) building a green culture; 2) reducing environmental impacts; 3) teaching and learning; and 4) barriers and best practices.
Some highlights of the findings, published in the Going Greener Report, include new degree programs being offered to students that will build the skills needed for a green economy, a greater recognition of the importance of engaging stakeholders across campus in sustainability efforts, an increase in renewable energy being produced, and the growing accessibility of locally-produced food for everyone on campus.
“Universities are uniquely positioned to help generate the knowledge we need to overcome environmental challenges,” said Bonnie M. Patterson, COU President and CEO. “In the past year, institutions have made improvements in methods of tracking environmental impacts, as well as in their policies, operations, and teaching and research.”