Our Purpose

Operations & Infrastructure

Our university’s operations and infrastructure embody sustainability principles.

We envision a transformed institution where business planning and projects are developed, piloted and implemented to conserve energy, reduce waste, build accessible and inclusive spaces and foster a sustainable food system. We see the university taking proactive action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions at practicable rates through innovative solutions focused on energy efficiency, energy management, renewable and alternative energy.

The university’s natural and built environments are planned, designed and operated for long-term ecological and human health and are inclusive, safe and productive for all. Universal design principles and sustainable transportation options are well-integrated into campus planning.

The university pursues opportunities for waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting through a robust waste management system. Faculties, departments and vendors demonstrate responsible purchasing for goods and services, giving consideration to their whole life cycle and to sustainability principles.


  • Goal 3.1

    Embed social, economic and environmental sustainability into the development and care of the university’s indoor and outdoor spaces.

    1. Strategy: Maintain space stewardship principles for capital planning and space utilization
    2. Strategy: Maximize preservation of green space on campus, pilot projects with native species and use university campuses as living labs.
    3. Strategy: Expand number of existing buildings certified using the BOMA BEST green building rating system.
    4. Strategy: Explore opportunities to certify new construction and major renovation projects using third-party systems.
    5. Strategy: Explore and implement low-impact methods for grounds management.
    6. Strategy: Continue water use reduction plan informed by water audits that outlines baseline water use, and set reduction targets to be reached by the year 2025.
    7. Strategy: Catalogue and manage information related to sustainability features and management practices for all university buildings.
    8. Strategy: Elevate awareness and increase number of accessible and all-gender washrooms on university-owned properties.
    9. Strategy: Develop programs to reduce energy use, increase waste diversion and decrease water use in lab environments.
  • Goal 3.3

    Sustainable and accessible transportation options are encouraged and well-integrated into campus planning.

    1. Strategy: Work in alignment with institutional plans such as the Long Range Development Plan and smart growth sustainable principles to reduce the number of people driving to a bike-friendly and walkable campus.
    2. Strategy: Continue to encourage the use of carpooling and car sharing and investigate solutions to campus parking that encourage other alternatives to single-occupant vehicle travel.
    3. Strategy: Explore opportunities to make public transit more accessible to people working, living and studying on UAlberta campuses.
  • Goal 3.4

    Advance a sustainable food system that provides fresh and healthy food in collaboration with the university community.

    1. Strategy: Establish the Sustainable Food Working Group to advance sustainable food initiatives.
    2. Strategy: Work with local authorities to develop a safe system for recovering and donating leftover food from dining and catering operations to increase recovery of usable food and reduce food waste.
    3. Strategy: Explore opportunities to grow food in underutilized spaces, and to create new community gardens accessible to members of the university and broader community.
    4. Strategy: Encourage food providers to increase, where feasible, access to healthy food, including options for specialty diets.
    5. Strategy: Explore the use of edible landscapes as an inherent part of the university’s sustainable food system.
  • Goal 3.5

    Encourage vendors and primary dining contractor to increase the purchase of food produced in Alberta and/or food with recognized sustainability certifications.

    1. Strategy: Collaborate with existing on-campus gardens to explore opportunities to supply produce to food vendors, campus and local community.
    2. Strategy: Continue to work with external partners to find Alberta food producers to supply food vendors.
  • Goal 3.6

    Build capacity within the purchasing system to assess and make sustainability-informed decisions.

    1. Strategy: Build awareness about the university’s stated preference for products registered with the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT).
    2. Strategy: Embed lifecycle cost analysis and EPEAT registration into the requests for proposal process for computer supplies, computer equipment and multi-function printers.
    3. Strategy: Identify 3-5 major purchases that impact the entire university community, perform life cycle analyses, and make recommendations to address impact based on findings.
  • Goal 3.7

    Build capacity for departments and faculties to engage in sustainable purchasing.

    1. Strategy: Explore the development of a Code of Conduct for university vendors and suppliers.
    2. Strategy: Elevate awareness of the environmental benefits of multi-function printers.
    3. Strategy: Create a system that increases the use of surplus by departments and faculties.
    4. Strategy: Encourage units making high-volume purchases of promotional items to assess opportunities to reduce their impact through sustainable purchasing practices.
  • Goal 3.8

    By 2020, divert 90% of waste from landfill and continue to reduce waste per campus user.

    1. Strategy: Increase source-separation and collection of organics to 1,500 tonnes per year by 2017.
    2. Strategy: Introduce “Zero Waste” collection of mixed paper, other recyclables, organics and landfill waste across university facilities.
    3. Strategy: Elevate awareness of the university’s waste diversion goal and engage campus community in ambition to become a “Zero Waste” campus.
    4. Strategy: Assess high-impact opportunities for reducing packaging waste for lab supplies and equipment.
    5. Strategy: Assess high-impact opportunities for reducing paper consumption and increasing the purchase of recycled-content paper.
    6. Strategy: Explore opportunities to reduce the chemical waste footprint of teaching and research activities.
    7. Strategy: Increase diversion of construction, demolition, and renovation waste.
    8. Strategy: Expand Reusable Dish Program to include more food vendors across North Campus.
    9. Strategy: Work with food vendors to eliminate polystyrene food service ware and replace it with recyclable or compostable alternatives.
    10. Strategy: Explore opportunities to reduce paper towel waste by installing hygienic, energy-efficient hand dryers.
  • Goal 3-2

    Establish the university as an innovative leader in addressing climate change and make progress on reducing the university’s greenhouse gas emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020.

    1. Strategy: Pursue viable strategies outlined in the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan.
    2. Strategy: Work towards minimizing fossil fuel use by university-owned vehicles by converting portions of our fleet to alternative fuels and power sources and reporting fuel consumption on an annual basis.
    3. Strategy: Implement innovations, upgrades, preventative maintenance and best practices in energy management, climate change mitigation and environmental protection.
    4. Strategy: Improve understanding about how the greenhouse gas inventory can be more comprehensive and include more emissions, such as those generated by air travel, commuting, and the embodied energy of goods and services.
    5. Strategy: Create an energy use reduction plan informed by the Envision program that outlines baseline energy use and sets reduction targets to be reached by the year 2025.
    6. Strategy: Explore the opportunity to create a climate change working group focused on facilitating initiatives for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
    7. Strategy: Commit to being a leader in climate change mitigation by connecting with institutions in northern communities to research best practices in energy management and climate change mitigation.

Progress Highlights from 2016–17

Connects to Goal 3.1, Strategy iv

The university's first building to achieve LEED® Gold certification has added another impressive award to its roster (LEED is short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design™).

Triffo Hall has been recognized as an exemplary historical building by BOMA, the Building Owners and Managers Association, winning The Outstanding Building of the Year (TOBY) 2016 at both the local and national levels. At the end of June, it competed at the international level.

The building, originally completed in 1915, has been prized for its incredible restoration, which retained 98 per cent of the original structure. The complex retrofit in 2009 transformed the two-storey structure—which has been used for laboratories, dancing studios, and even a cow barn—into a model for sustainable design applied to the restoration of an historic building.

“We are thrilled to follow up our BOMA BEST certification with a TOBY Award. It’s through the hard work of many people that has brought us to this point.”
—Ray Dumouchel, associate director of Buildings and Grounds Services at the University of Alberta

Connects to Goal 3.2, Strategy ii

The university expanded its fleet this year with another eco-friendly addition: the Chevy Volt, an extended-range electric vehicle suitable for longer trips, such as from North Campus to Augustana Campus (from Edmonton to Camrose). The Volt joins the university’s Nissan Leaf, an electric vehicle that works well for shorter journeys.

While these two cars are the university’s first electric vehicles, the pool has included hybrid vehicles since 2009. Over the next five years, Jim Laverty, manager of the vehicle pool, will continue to monitor the market, seeking to expand the number of electric vehicles in the pool. He says the vehicle pool team will likely purchase a second Volt, a model that was selected after researching all the electric vehicle options on the market. Laverty stresses the importance of finding the right vehicle for the job, and in that sense, the Leaf and the Volt have both been great successes.

“I see these electric vehicles as being a real cost-saver. Once we get some better data on them, we’ll know just how much we are saving on them and we’ll be able to apply those savings into expanding our program."

"It’s an economical, cost-effective solution that is also helping to save the environment. That’s kind of win-win.” 
—Jim Laverty, manager of the Vehicle Pool

Connects to Goal 3.7, Strategy iv

As part of the 2017 Sustainability Scholars cohort, graduate student Kateryna Pashkovska developed a guide for considering sustainability when purchasing promotional items ("swag"). The Sustainable Swag Guide offers guidance for sourcing environmentally and socially-responsible products. The included rubric makes the purchasing process easier for any university department planning promotional events, conferences and giveaway contests.