A leader in sustainability: York celebrates 10 years as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers

Bike share station on York University's Keele campus
Bike share station on York University’s Keele campus.

From managing a unique Eco-Campus in Costa Rica to adopting a ZeroWaste program to divert 70 per cent of waste from the landfill, York University is creating positive, healthy change rooted in sustainability on its campuses and beyond.

Canada's Greenest Employers 2022 logo

Recognized as a leader in developing and fostering environmental practices in its teaching, research and community partnerships, York University has been selected for the 10th consecutive year as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers.

This year’s list of organizations published as Canada’s Greenest Employers for 2022 was announced on April 20 by Mediacorp Canada Inc., the organizers of the annual Canada’s Top 100 Employers project. The editorial competition, now in its 15th year, is designed to highlight employers in Canada that are leaders in creating a “culture of environmental awareness” through “exceptional sustainability initiatives.”

“York continues to be a leader in sustainability and being recognized as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for the 10th consecutive year speaks to the University’s commitment to address and take action on the environmental crisis facing us, both locally and globally,” said Carol McAulay, vice-president finance and administration. “Through York’s innovative approaches to address the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) in its teaching, research and institutional goals, I am confident the University will continue to make transformative and positive change in sustainability efforts.”

UAP Graphic
The University Academic Plan 2020-2025 identifies six academic priorities

York University’s commitment to deepen its collective contributions to the 17 UN SDGs in everything it does – from research to civic action, from education to innovation – is outlined as a priority in the University Academic Plan 2020–2025: Building a Better Future. It is an example of how the University upholds sustainability, both environmental and societal, as a compass for its decisions.

For three consecutive years, York University has placed in the top six per cent in the Times Higher Education (THE) Global Impact Ranking, which classifies universities on their work towards the SDGs.

York has also made a commitment to social and environmental responsibility through the Living Well Together: Keele Campus Vision and Strategy, which emphasizes projects that help the University achieve the goals set out in the academic plan, work toward its commitment to be carbon neutral by or before 2049 and continue to create a community-centre campus.

“York’s longstanding commitment to social justice contributes to making the University a leader in sustainability and upholds our commitment to foster a sense of belonging that is strengthened through diversity and inclusivity,” says Sheila Cote-Meek, vice-president, equity, people & culture. “I am proud that our work to build a stronger, more equitable and healthier workplace at York has been recognized as we continue to provide accessible and inviting spaces on our campuses that are ecologically healthy and promote the well-being of all members of our community.”

Some of the notable initiatives York University was recognized for in its designation as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for 2022 include:

  • As a leader in sustainability, York is committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and to becoming carbon neutral on or before 2049. This University-wide challenge will create positive change, locally and globally, for our students, the communities we serve, and the world around us.
  • York University manages a formal “ZeroWaste” program that captures household recyclables, batteries, e-waste, appliances, ink cartridges and more, diverting 70 per cent of waste from the landfill – through this program, the University introduced a formal Green Cleaning program back in 2009 that has become a recognized benchmark for institutional cleaning.
  • York University manages a unique Eco-Campus in Costa Rica (established in 2016) that operates as a local, national and international school dedicated to education and research on neotropical conservation, eco-health, community well-being and sustainable livelihoods for neighbouring communities – the campus is located next to the 400-acre Las Nubes Forest Reserve that is part of one of the largest rainforest ecosystems in Central America.
  • York University has adopted a range of environmental principles that encourage design efficiency, broader use of daylighting, water efficiency, energy conservation and performance, reduction in emissions, materials and resources, green construction practices, indoor environmental quality and site re-naturalization.

York University was also commended for its work in: green initiatives, such as the Maloca Community Garden; academic initiatives, with more than 500 courses across its campuses related to sustainability and the environment; building and facility initiatives, including using solar panels, rainwater collection and electric vehicle charging stations on campus; commuter initiatives, such as dedicated parking for carpoolers and its green fleet program; and community partnership initiatives like its innovative Sustainable Office Program that sees sustainability champions working to engage students and employees in sustainability programs.

Learn more about what makes York University one of Canada’s Greenest Employers.