York University has long been known as a leader in sustainability, earning recognition as one of Canada’s Top 100 Greenest Employers for the past 11 years and being named among the world’s top 40 universities for advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by the 2023 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.
For community members who are interested in learning more about how the University is leading the way in sustainable practices, York’s Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC) is offering a new, sustainability-focused tour of the Keele Campus following a pandemic-related hiatus. Below are some of the tour’s highlights.
Native Plant Garden
On the north side of the Health, Nursing and Environmental Studies (HNES) Building, find a beautiful, multifunctional garden that serves as a treasured habitat for wild animals and pollinators alike. Curious community members who don’t mind getting their hands dirty are welcome to volunteer their time to help maintain the garden.
Sky Studio Collective’s collaborative murals
Launched last November, “For the Birds” is an art project created by EUC students and teachers. Best viewed from the outer north side of the HNES Building, this project was part of a larger initiative by professors Gail Fraser, Traci Warkentin and Lisa Myers, who imagined ways that different classes could connect to help address an area of deep concern: migratory bird deaths resulting from reflective windows on campus.
Students from the Community Arts for Social Change course (ENVS 2122) designed murals for the windows, which were installed by students from various Faculties. Read the full YFile story about the project.
Maloca Community Garden
The Maloca Community Garden, on the outskirts of campus, features about 2,000 square feet devoted to both individual and communal plots for growing vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers using the principles of organic agriculture. The space is intended for all members of the University community to enjoy by growing their own food, hosting outdoor events or providing a unique setting for sustainable teaching.
Workshops and volunteer opportunities are also available, and no gardening experience is necessary. For more information, visit the Maloca Community Garden website.
Regenesis, an environmental community organization with chapters in many Greater Toronto Area universities, opened a unique borrowing centre on York’s Keele Campus in January 2017. The centre, located in the HNES Building, operates like a library, allowing community members to borrow items such as tools, games, camping equipment, sports equipment and more.
York boasts many examples of forward-thinking architecture, including five green roofs, the use of photovoltaic solar panels, the collection of rainwater and five buildings recognized with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, including the LEED Gold certified Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence and Schulich School of Business Rob and Cheryl McEwen Graduate Study & Research Building.
One of the top priorities of York’s Transportation Services department has been to continuously work to improve public transit options to York and reduce the numbers of commuters using single-occupant vehicles. York has encouraged this shift through a number of alternative transportation initiatives: shuttle bus service between campuses; three bicycle repair stations; a green fleet program that includes electric golf carts, bikes, hybrid and electric vehicles; and the recent connection of the Keele Campus to the Toronto Transit Commission’s subway system in 2017 with two state-of-the-art stations on campus.
Electric vehicle (EV) charging stations
In partnership with Natural Resource Canada and FLO, York’s Keele Campus is now equipped with 18 EV charging stations, located in many of the parking lots across campus. For more details about where to find them, visit the Parking Services website.
A major standout out during the EUC Sustainable Campus Tour is the abundance of beautiful green spaces available to enjoy on York’s Keele Campus. From Stong Pond and Harry W. Arthurs Common to all the charming nooks and crannies along the Campus Walk, the benefits of being located outside of Toronto’s core couldn’t be any more apparent than during a mid-summer campus stroll.
For more information about the EUC Sustainable Campus Tour or to book one for yourself or a group, contact Brittany Giglio, EUC recruitment and liaison officer, at email@example.com.