The College Sustainability Report Card, released yesterday, awards York University a B+ for sustainability, the highest ranking achieved by Canadian universities in the US-Canada survey.
Among the 332 schools evaluated, York scored first in Ontario, sharing the top Canadian ranking with the University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia, the University of Calgary and McGill University, all of which received grades of B+.
The most comprehensive survey of sustainability on campuses in the 50 US states and in Canada, the 2010 report card assesses 48 indicators in nine categories: administration, climate change & energy, food & recycling, green building, student involvement, transportation, endowment transparency, investment priorities and shareholder engagement.
York University improved its ranking from a C+ in 2009, and earned the designation of Campus Sustainability Leader, awarded to institutions that achieve an average grade of A- or better across all six campus categories.
“This report card is great news for York and for the communities we serve, but we know there is more work to be done," says York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. "Sustainability is an idea whose time has come; it’s about giving future generations opportunities equal to those we have enjoyed.”
The report card highlighted York’s achievements in building a greener University community, including:
Administration: The President’s Sustainability Council advises the president on a variety of sustainability initiatives, and the Yorkwise campaign has been launched to educate the University community about sustainability. The Office of Environmental Design & Sustainability, created in 2008, employs one full-time staff member.
Climate change & energy: In 2008, York University achieved a 15 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2006 levels. The University has invested in an energy management program to meet its commitment of reducing emissions to 25 per cent below 2006 levels by 2011. There are two cogeneration plants on campus and heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) retrocommissions and lighting retrofits have been completed for energy efficiency.
Food & recycling: The University’s food service providers purchase fair trade coffee, as well as organic and local produce and beef. The University is currently conducting a pilot program with a local community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm. Food waste is composted in 22 compost digesters around campus.
Green building: The Keele campus features seven buildings constructed to meet Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) criteria. New buildings and renovations incorporate green building strategies, such as the use of environmentally preferable materials, efficient airflow systems and storm water retention. Occupancy sensors and low-flow plumbing fixtures have been installed around the Keele campus.
Student involvement: Numerous student organizations at York work to advance sustainability, including the Student Subcommittee of the President’s Sustainability Council. The york is U Green Team organizes events such as the environmental expo, tree planting, an eco-food fair and an eco-friendly fashion show. Residence environmental ambassadors coordinate residence recycling initiatives, and electricity use in the residence halls decreased by 26 per cent during the recent Res Race to Zero energy challenge.
Transportation: York runs two free shuttle services between its Keele and Glendon campuses, offers a discount on Toronto Transit Commission Metropasses and awards financial incentives to carpoolers. Bike racks are placed at major buildings, indoor monitored bike parking is present at one location; and shower facilities are available for cyclists. More than 65 per cent of community members commute to the University by means other than single-occupant vehicles.
The 2010 report card saw the highest participation levels to date: 89 per cent of schools responded to the campus survey; 91 per cent to the dining survey; 82 per cent to the endowment survey; and 75 per cent to the student survey. In all, 318 out of 332 schools responded to at least one of the surveys. The College Sustainability Report Card is provided to the public free of charge by the Sustainable Endowments Institute. To view the full report card click here.