York University wins provincial award for environmental excellence

As part of Ontario’s plan to build a stronger economy, create new jobs and promote innovative ways to protect the environment, the province has honoured six organizations  – including York University – with the 2012 Minister’s Award for Environmental Excellence, for making outstanding contributions to the environmental stewardship of the Great Lakes.

“Today we celebrate just a few of the most outstanding efforts of individuals, groups and companies in protecting the environment,” said Ontario Minister of the Environment Jim Bradley at the awards presentation Tuesday at Queen’s Park. “I hope the examples we see today will inspire others to be innovators in protecting the environment.”

EnvironmentAwardBack row, from left: Bryan Gilvesy, Y U Ranch; Mamdouh Shoukri and Pavel Graymason, York University. Middle row: Cathy Gilvesy, Y U Ranch; Cynthia Lee, Toronto Zoo; Geoff Peach and Pamela Scharfe, Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation. Front row: Elizabeth Simpson and Adrienne Mason, Pine River Watershed Initiative Network; Minister Jim Bradley; Kim Timmer and Brian Friesen, CleanFARMS

York was recognized for its Res Race to Zero competition, in which students and faculty reduced their energy use in several student residence buildings by 30 per cent in the past three years. The program uses a number of approaches for getting students to participate, including social media, and a weekly web posting that charts energy use. What started as a friendly competition between the Keele and Glendon campus residences is now a way of life for students and faculty across the university – and it’s all part of the school’s five-year plan to reduce energy use across the board. The program raised awareness, saved money, reduced demand on Ontario’s power grid and helped reduce air pollution.


Mamdouh Shoukri and Pavel Graymason accepting the award from Minister Jim Bradley

“We at York are very proud to receive this award for environmental excellence from the Minister, which recognizes the University as a leader in sustainability,” said York University President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “I would like to acknowledge our dedicated community of environmental ambassadors and innovators – the many York staff, students, faculty and alumni who are leading by example and driving our greening efforts across campus. The Res Race to Zero is an outstanding program that takes a community-driven approach to sustainability and exemplifies York’s mission to create local solutions with a global impact.”

The other recipients of this year’s award included CleanFARMS (Toronto), Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation (Goderich), Pine River Watershed Initiative Network (Ripley), Toronto Zoo and Y U Ranch (Tillsonburg).

To see more of York’s environmental initiatives, click here.

With files from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.