U of T and Ontario universities pledge to go greener

Friday, December 4, 2009 11:00:00 AM

On November 26, 2009, the executive heads of 20 Ontario universities presented Premier Dalton McGuinty a made-in-Ontario sustainability pledge titled Ontario Universities: Committed to a Greener World.  The pledge reinforces the institutions' commitment to preserving and protecting the environment and the future well-being of the province.

The University of Toronto is one of the signatories of the pledge that includes 22 campuses. President David Naylor signed the pledge, which commits the university to continue practising the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) and to invest in being environmentally sustainable.  U of T already has many environmental projects on campus.  On the large end of the scale is the growing number of LEED designated buildings across all three campuses. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is an internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of green buildings.)  The St. George campus has its first LEED gold certified building at the newly renovated Exam Centre 255 McCaul St. and the Mississauga campus boasts the university's first ever LEED building with the Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre. UTM has three other LEED-certified buildings in the works.  U of T is a leader in waste diversion, too; it currently diverts 65.7 per cent of all the non-hazardous waste produced on campus.

On the smaller scale, the university recently launched its own coffee cup recycling program, following the lead of some coffee companies and preceding any municipal program.

Students are, of course, especially engaged in sustainability efforts at U of T. For example, the campus agricultural project at U of T brings together students, staff and faculty to grow, eat and locally distribute their own food from green roofs and garden plots across all three campuses.  Another successful tri-campus initiative is Rewire -- a program of the U of T Sustainability Office for residences and offices that encourages the entire community to reduce their energy consumption.  And in the new year, U of T will launch one of the largest solar thermal installations in the province on the roof of the Athletic Centre.

A summary and a full report of sustainability activities underway at the participating Ontario universities are now posted at: http://www.cou.on.ca/_bin/publications/onlinePublications.cfm.

(This is an edited excerpt from an article found at http://www.news.utoronto.ca.)