Nov. 10, 2017
For Immediate Release
Waterloo – Wilfrid Laurier University has been named the most sustainable campus in Ontario and the third most sustainable in Canada by Corporate Knights, which bills itself as “the magazine for clean capitalism.”
The Corporate Knights Greenest Campuses in Canada index for 2017 awarded Laurier a score of 72 based on 13 performance indicators such as green transportation, water management and building area management.
“The recognition is a huge honour for us,” said Tyler Plante, outreach and program coordinator for Laurier’s Sustainability Office. “It’s great for the university and the community here because it shows everyone that the choices they make day to day are making a difference and they’re being recognized for them.”
Laurier has long put a major emphasis on sustainability and has received a number of awards for its achievements in the area. This summer, Laurier received a 2016 Minister’s Award for Environmental Excellence from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change for its efforts to reduce the university’s environmental impact. Also this past summer, Sustainable Waterloo Region recognized Laurier for having the greatest increase in sustainable commuting in 2016.
In 2016, the Princeton Review named Laurier one of the top green colleges in North America, one of just 10 Canadian universities on the list. It also earned a TravelWise Leadership and Innovation Award. In 2015, Laurier received an Environmental and Sustainability Award from the Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce and was named a top performer in the 2015 Sustainable Campus Index. In 2014, Laurier won the Community Engagement Award from REEP Green Solutions for Mino-Kummik: Aboriginal Community Garden on the Waterloo campus. Laurier’s Brantford campus is also home to an Indigenous community garden.
This year has seen a number of new sustainability initiatives at Laurier. Its newest building, Lazaridis Hall, has many environmental features, including solar panels, an accessible green roof and an electric vehicle charging station. It is targeted for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification. The Research and Academic Centre (East and West) on Laurier’s Brantford campus previously achieved LEED Silver certification.
The Laurier Energy Efficiency Program (LEEP), currently underway, is a comprehensive, multi-phase initiative to transform Laurier’s building portfolio into a leading example of sustainable management and includes the installation of rooftop solar panels, battery storage, and a fully functioning microgrid.
In the 2017 winter term, Laurier achieved a Fair Trade Campus designation from the Canadian Fair Trade Network. All food service locations run by the university or Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union serve only fair trade coffee and offer fair trade options for tea and chocolate. Food Services also has policies in place to prioritize local food and sustainable seafood. The sale of water bottles at the university was largely phased out in 2014, with filling stations for reusable bottles taking their place. As of this summer, this initiative had saved the equivalent of a million water bottles.
The past year has also seen a major, fundraising-driven tree-planting program. As part of that program, a number of fruit trees and shrubs were planted on Laurier’s Northdale campus (Waterloo), where there is an urban micro-farm run in partnership with a number of community organizations including Young City Growers. Also new this year are two beehives, which just produced their first honey harvest.
There are many more ways to be green at Laurier’s campuses, ranging from opportunities for students, staff and faculty to get involved with sustainability initiatives, make sustainable transportation choices, and learn about sustainability – not only through student courses but also through a certificate program for staff and faculty.
Laurier has plans for more sustainability initiatives in the future in areas such as student engagement, responsible investing and waste management. Laurier will continue to improve energy management, including producing more energy on Laurier’s campuses, striving to reduce its carbon footprint.
Data used in the Corporate Knights index came from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.
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