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.