Our Purpose


Our university leaders demonstrate progress on our commitment by incorporating sustainability into our institution's vision, mission, academic plans and business plans.

Creating a more sustainable campus strengthens our institutional vision and mission to build one of the world’s great universities for the public good. We envision sustainability as a core value to be considered in administration, governance, planning and stewardship systems, procedures, and policies. Our leaders and students are visible champions of sustainability to internal and external audiences. The university is transparent and accountable to our community, publicly committing to continuous improvement and cross-unit engagement and cooperation when it comes to improving and reporting on our sustainability performance.


  • Goal 1.1

    Pioneer innovations in policy, practice, knowledge and leadership that advance sustainability at our institution.

    1. Strategy: Ensure the university’s strategic guiding documents, policies and procedures are informed by a sustainability plan that recognizes sustainability as a key value at our institution.
    2. Strategy: Encourage academic and operational units to incorporate sustainability into their strategic plans, decision-making, and reporting.
    3. Strategy: Seek synergies between the university’s sustainability planning and other regional and provincial plans.
    4. Strategy: Contribute service to national and international sustainability-related organizations, dialogues, agreements and initiatives that advocate and transform sustainability in higher education.
    5. Strategy: Senior leaders and governing bodies visibly support and communicate the importance of sustainability to our institution.
    6. Strategy: Collaborate with Campus Alberta members on joint initiatives to improve their sustainability performance.
  • Goal 1.2

    Report, recognize, reward and profile sustainability solutions and accomplishments of students, staff, faculty, administrators and alumni.

    1. Strategy: Elevate awareness and profile of the university’s sustainability innovations and success stories.
    2. Strategy: Report annually to the campus community on sustainability performance.
    3. Strategy: Participate in a select number of reputable, third-party sustainability performance measurement systems, recognition programs and rankings that show progress towards sustainability.
    4. Strategy: Recognize and reward sustainability innovation and leadership within the institution.
  • Goal 1.3

    Foster growth of sustainability initiatives and problem-solving on all campuses.

    1. Strategy: Continue to allocate funding where possible to sustainability initiatives.
    2. Strategy: Create and increase participation in working groups that foster collaboration and address sustainability challenges with particular attention to waste diversion, sustainable purchasing and sustainable food.
    3. Strategy: Identify and support a sustainability champion for each faculty, central unit and strategic committee to review and implement initiatives.
    4. Strategy: Mitigate environmental impact of the university’s major events and communicate these measures to participants.
  • Goal 1.4

    Explore opportunities for incorporating sustainability-related approaches into the university’s investments.

    1. Strategy: Explore opportunities and implications of incorporating environmental, social and governance concerns into the university’s investment policy.
    2. Strategy: Explore providing donors with a segregated but diversified sustainability-focused endowment/investment stream.
    3. Strategy: Evaluate investing in renewable energy and other sustainability-related infrastructure as an inflation hedging strategy.
    4. Strategy: Elevate awareness of the university’s investments within the campus community, and of sustainable investing methods within the investments management team.

Progress Highlights from 2016–17

Connects to Goal 1.3

In order to help keep students’ clothes, housewares and food out of the landfill when they leave residences, Eco Move Out places donation and recycling bins at convenient on-site locations. In August 2016, the university decided to take the program one step further, holding the first Eco Move-in Market to re-sell some of the best items collected during Eco Move Out.

As international students often need to purchase a variety of items upon arrival to Canada—including expensive apparel such as winter coats and boots—the market was held in International House. More than 600 items were sold at the market and anything remaining was donated to Goodwill. Not only did the market provide high-quality, low-cost items, but it also promoted buying items second-hand and it reduced the carbon emissions produced by rerouting the donations off-campus.

Connects to Goal 1.1, Strategy iv

The University of Alberta officially joined the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN) on Earth Day (April 22, 2017). This network is a global platform that enables post-secondary institutions and corporate campuses to share information that supports sustainability.

President David Turpin signed the ISCN-GULF Sustainable Campus Charter, committing the university to set concrete targets against three shared Charter principles, and to report transparently and regularly against those targets. Charter reporting is meant to help members distill their campus sustainability efforts into short, executive summaries of strategic priority goals and related performance.

Chief Sustainability Officer Trina Innes attended the ISCN 2017 conference at the University of British Columbia. Co-hosted between UBC and the City of Vancouver, the conference highlighted collaboration between campuses and cities.

Connects to Goal 1.4, Strategy i

The Board of Governors approved a new University Funds Investment Policy which now includes section 6.1 on Responsible Investment. This institutes environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors as a criterion for selecting investment managers, and requires these managers to disclose how ESG factors are incorporated into their investment decision making. ESG matters will be included in the Investment Committee’s annual report.

Connects to Goal 1.3, Strategy ii

The Sustainable Food Working Group (SGWG) formed to help facilitate shared strategies among the many food-related initiatives already thriving at the university. The working group includes leaders from Ancillary Services, Healthy Campus Unit, Students' Union, contracted food providers, as well as faculty and student representatives.

The SFWG held a workshop and panel discussion in Fall 2016; mentored students to produce a feasibility study for an on-campus food recovery and donation program; and gathered food-related data for the university's sustainability reporting. The group also laid the groundwork for the following projects: increasing vendors’ local food purchases; developing a tool to measure healthy food options and students’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviour about healthy and sustainable food availability; and preparing to apply for the Fair Trade Campus designation.

The Waste Diversion Working Group (WDWG) led the university to sign a new waste collection contract in July 2016, and worked alongside Buildings and Grounds Services to expand organics collection across North Campus. Zero Waste bins, which include organic waste, were added to four more buildings this year. The group also surveyed bin contamination rates in SUB and HUB Mall.

Connects to Goal 1.3, Strategy i

Hayley Wan, director of organic chemistry for undergraduate courses, received support from the Sustainability Enhancement Fund for her work in green chemistry. Using the funding, researchers will examine individual chemistry experiments to determine if the amount of chemical waste can be reduced or recycled for use in other experiments, resulting in lower environmental and financial costs. Investigators will also determine if materials that are less toxic can be substituted in the experiments without changing the student learning experience, and if the amount of water required for the experiments can be reduced.