Canada may not be receiving the highest marks on our federal environmental policy these days, but our universities appear to be pulling some extra weight.
In a recent list of the world’s greenest university campuses, six Canadian schools made the grade.
The results, conducted by international university ranking system UI GreenMetric, compiled a catalogue of the 215 most sustainable and eco-friendly campuses in the world and Universite de Sherbrooke took the top spot among Canadian campuses at an impressive sixth place.
The five other national universities to make the cut included York University, Laval University, University of Ottawa, Acadia University and Simon Fraser University.
Rankings were based on categories that included energy and climate change, water, waste, education, transportation and setting and infrastructure.
Taking the top spot was University of Connecticut, a school whose administration has pledged to make its campus carbon neutral by 2050. The university has also made a point of ordering Energy Star-rated appliances and only serves hormone and antibiotic-free milk in all dining halls. The free-run eggs and fair trade coffee are a nice bonus, as is the fact that anyone with a student ID can ride the bus for free.
Another U.S. school landed in the top five, with Boston’s Northeastern University coming in fourth place.
The rest of the best was filled by three U.K. schools known for their exceptional commitment to the environment: University of Nottingham, University College Cork National University of Ireland and University of Plymouth, which took the second, third and fifth spots, respectively.
Though our campuses figured a little lower on the overall list, here’s what our Canadian contenders did to attract international standing:
Universite de Sherbrooke
Why? Sherbrooke wants you to leave the car at home and the Quebec university is taking steps to help you take more steps to campus. The school offers free bus passes to all of its 35,000 students and has initiated self-service bike and carpool programs to encourage fewer idling engines. As a result, they've been able to convert several parking lots into green space. Now that's what you call effective recycling.
University of Ottawa
Why? Over the past few years, this campus in our nation’s capital has mounted a huge effort toward improving sustainability. Notable achievements include the construction of Canada’s largest living wall (a wall that is covered in plants) in the new Social Sciences Building, expanding its Living Laboratory program and offering a collaborative master’s option in sustainability.
Why? University campuses aren’t exactly famous for their healthy food options. So York’s Green Campus Co-operative has garnered notice for its effort to affer fair trade and organic foods among the burgers and noodles. A sustainable campus is a major goal for the school’s Toronto campus and they’ve set out to work with students, faculty and local businesses to see this goal through.
Why? This historic institution was the first centre of education in Canada and continues to honour its roots by offering a gorgeous natural setting. More than 50 per cent of the campus is green, from the woods to the grasslands and botanical gardens.
Simon Fraser University
Why? This B.C. institution has been in the sustainability game for more than 20 years, making SFU one of the first Canadian schools to adopt a green policy. Highlights include Green Labs that reduce the energy consumption along the campus’s energy sucking science buildings. As well, it received a Fair Trade Campus designation from Fair Trade Canada.
Why? Acadia’s Environmental and Sustainability Studies program has picked up high marks for its innovative interdisciplinary curriculum.