York University has been named one of the top 100 of Canada’s Greenest Employers for 2016. This is the fourth such honour for the University, which for the past three years has made the list.
“This is a very exclusive list, with only a handful of universities and colleges, and I think this accolade is testament to the great work that has been happening here at York University,” said Faculty of Environmental Studies Professor Martin Bunch, chair of the President’s Sustainability Council, during a special Earth Day event on April 22 at the Keele campus.
This special designation recognizes the employers that lead the nation in creating a culture of environmental awareness in their organizations. To make the list, employers have developed exceptional earth-friendly initiatives – and are attracting people to their organizations because of their environmental leadership.
In addition to the Greenest Employer designation, the University recently received a STARS Silver rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
STARS, or the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, is the most widely respected and most robust assessment of sustainability in postsecondary education.
“It is very encouraging to receive this external recognition, and it reinforces our determination to continue to innovate and advance sustainability here at York,” said Bunch.
Earth Day, said Bunch, presents an opportunity to reflect on the University’s accomplishments in sustainability. There are many impressive achievements from the past year:
- Last September, York University joined a growing number of postsecondary institutions by phasing out the sale of bottled water on its campuses. The University now has more than 70 refill stations and some 200 drinking fountains on its campuses that provide fresh, waste-free water to the community.
- The Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence opened in September and celebrated its official opening several weeks ago. The building adds much needed space for the University’s expanding engineering program, and was built to LEED Gold standards (and once certified, will be York University’s first LEED Gold building).
- Through the University’s Energy Management Program, there has been a 30 per cent reduction in energy use since 2007.
- Through York’s ZeroWaste program, the University has reached a 68 per cent waste diversion rate, the highest rate yet, far surpassing the initial target of 50 per cent.
- More than 80 per cent of the University community commute by alternative transportation (public transit, carpooling, walking, cycling).
- In 2015, the York community saw the installation of the University’s first photovoltaic array, the solar electric vehicle charging station.
- More than 25 per cent of purchases through the Food Services Department are either local, sustainable or Fair Trade certified.
- From a teaching and learning standpoint, York University continues to build a strong foundation of teaching, research and action on sustainability with nearly 500 courses related to environment and sustainability.
- And finally, the York Task Force on Sustainability Research released its final report last year, to help shape and grow York’s leadership in sustainability research.
“These impressive achievements, along with many others, are due to the vision and hard work of many people, including students, faculty and staff across our campuses,” said Bunch. “While I can’t acknowledge them all by name here, I would like to say thanks to Richard Francki, the AVP of Campus Services and Business Operations, and his dedicated team working on energy, waste, transportation, food, and many other sustainability initiatives here at York University.”