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The Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce recently honoured Wilfrid Laurier University for being an environmental leader in the community.

The university took home the Environmental and Sustainability award at the Chamber’s annual Business Excellence Awards gala on Feb. 19. The award recognizes organizations in Waterloo Region who have made outstanding commitments to sustainable development and “take action through self-initiated environmental practices and programs beyond legislative requirements.”

Laurier has emerged as a leader when it comes to being environmentally responsible, with the university’s Sustainability Office spearheading numerous projects since its creation in 2010.

“We are so thankful to the Chamber for this recognition of our sustainability program,” said Claire Bennett, manager of Laurier’s Sustainability Office, who accepted the award. “There are such amazing minds and passion in the sustainability field and this is particularly true in our region – from institutions and businesses to local champions, there is such a strong sense of community and drive to be progressive.”

The Chamber of Commerce award recognized Laurier for several of its on-campus sustainability initiatives such as the university’s commitment to reduce its carbon emissions by 25 per cent over 10 years through a partnership with nonprofit organization Sustainable Waterloo Region; the implementation of a central waste program; and a sub-metering project that monitors energy use in all university buildings and displays information in real time on public interactive kiosks.

The Chamber also rewarded Laurier for its initiatives run through community partners such as the university’s membership in the TravelWise program – which offers discounted bus passes, a carpool database and emergency ride home services to faculty and staff – and a partnership with nonprofit Young City Growers that resulted in the construction of a community garden on Laurier’s Northdale campus.

These initiatives are just a few examples of how Laurier has made being sustainable and environmentally conscious an institutional priority.

“We are seeing this momentum at a time when organizations are facing new challenges when it comes to being competitive, and Laurier is no different,” said Bennett. “To be resilient, we are embedding sustainability into our management and academic plan because we are seeing first hand that sustainable operations is good business and we couldn’t be happier to be examples of this.”

For more information on Laurier’s Sustainability Office and the university’s environmental initiatives, visit wlu.ca/sustainability.

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