U of A sustains status as one of Canada’s greenest employers for 11th year in a row
University recognized for range of sustainability and waste reduction programs.
By SHAWNA DIRKSEN
The University of Alberta was named one of Canada’s greenest employers for the 11th straight year.
The U of A is the only Canadian post-secondary institution to make the national list in each of the last 11 years.
The list is compiled by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers competition who select employers that are reducing the impact their operations have on the environment.
“Our sustainability programs and initiatives are not one-size-fits-all,” said Shannon LeBlanc, program coordinator in the university’s energy management and sustainable operations unit.
“Our suite of programs reflects the diversity of the institution, which is really great to see.”
Among the reasons the university has made the list year after year is its Sustainability Awareness Week, a series of sustainability-related events, workshops and tours held on each campus. The event, which is held each October, builds general awareness about sustainability and environmental issues across the institution.
The editors also cited the U of A’s Green Spaces certification program that encourages environmental responsibility in offices, labs and events, and the Campus Sustainability Grants program that helps university staff fund changes that improve sustainability in their area.
Other highlights included the Prairie Urban Farm on the U of A’s south campus, and the Green and Gold Community Garden, a two-acre, pesticide-free community garden that puts proceeds from sales toward a non-profit organization supporting marginalized women in Rwanda.
The university was also recognized for its Sustainability Council, an academic leadership unit launched in September that promotes sustainability scholarship and connects staff members interested in sustainability.
“I think the continued growth of our sustainability initiatives and the university’s commitment to embedding these initiatives into our facilities and operations until they become standard practice is one of the reasons we’ve continued to receive this recognition,” said LeBlanc, who noted the university reduced its greenhouse gas footprint by 11.8 per cent since 2012.
She added the university’s overall conservation and energy-saving initiatives help reduce the university’s impact on the environment, one of the most visible being the Zero Waste Program.
The recycling and waste management program looks after 450 waste stations across campus, helping the university reach its goal to divert 90 per cent of its waste from landfills by 2020.
“The university made a commitment to advancing sustainability over time and people in all areas of the institution can contribute to the success of this commitment in a way that’s meaningful to them,” said LeBlanc.