Goals and Commitments

MacEwan University’s commitment to sustainability was marked in 2008 by the adoption of our Sustainability Policy (D6000) and again in 2009 by the creation of the Office of Sustainability to oversee policy implementation. This commitment was further solidified in 2011 with the approval of our Campus Sustainability Plan (CSP). By highlighting the priorities for education for sustainability, sustainable operations, and the need for sustainability in our planning, administration and engagement, the CSP creates time-sensitive goals for the university to accomplish. As a result of the CSP, and through the hard work of members and volunteers, MacEwan University has seen significant progress and accomplishments in the realm of sustainability.

Goal 1: Formal education programs and courses


Engaging students with formal education programs and courses that address sustainability


We developed criteria to identify sustainability courses based on AASHE definitions:

  • Sustainability courses are courses in which the primary and explicit focus is on sustainability and/or on understanding or solving one or more major sustainability challenge(s).
  • Courses that include sustainability are primarily focused on topics other than sustainability, but incorporate a unit or module on sustainability or a sustainability challenge, include one or more sustainability-focused activities, or integrate sustainability issues throughout the course.

We compiled the university’s inventory of sustainability courses. Out of 2,149 courses offered in the last three years, 4 were classified as ‘sustainability courses’ and 21 courses included sustainability as a module or challenge.

485 out of 2,940 graduates completed a program that has adopted at least one sustainability learning outcome in 2012/13.

Continuing Progress

The Sustainability 201 Master Course Syllabus has been approved and is scheduled to begin in January 2016 with Dave Buchanan from the Faculty of Arts and Science and Margaret Milner from the Faculty of Health and Community Studies co-teaching the course. The Sustainability 201 course and the courses listed in the sustainability course inventory will be the base for the establishment of a minor or certificate in sustainability.

SAMU surveyed 231 students on the topic of Education for Sustainability and found that 87% of students believe sustainability should be included in the curriculum; 73% of students think sustainability would add value to their degree; 60% of students believe sustainability in the curriculum would better prepare them for the workplace; and 36% of students would be interested in a certificate in sustainability.

Goal 2: Learning experiences outside the curriculum


Providing students with sustainability learning experiences outside the curriculum


MacEwan launched the Sustainability in Practice Series for students to learn about, engage in and take action on sustainability. Since 2012, 10 events galvanized an estimated 2,000 participants.

We developed interactive displays to engage students on recycling and the adoption of sustainable lifestyles for New Student Orientation and Fall Fest activities.

Three SAMU student clubs on campus are dedicated to sustainability issues: Enactus, incrEDIBLE, and Sustainable MacEwan University.

Continuing Progress

We are training student Eco-Heroes to help deliver an energy, waste and water reduction competition across residence and university buildings launching in February 2015.

Continuing monthly articles on sustainability topics are featured in MacEwan University’s student blog Inspire page.

The finalist student team at the Sustainable Campus International Competition created the incrEDIBLE MacEwan SA club and received $15,000 from student-led initiative to build aquaponics food-growing display in MacEwan University’s Child Care Centre.

Goal 3: Sustainability research


Developing opportunities to conduct research related to, or focused on, sustainability


The Education for Sustainability Steering Committee adopted a definition for sustainability research as research that “focuses on one or more of the three dimensions of sustainability (social, economic, and environmental) and seeks to contribute to the preservation, restoration, and/or enhancement of social well-being, environmental quality and/or economic equity.”

29% (equal to $92,482) of research funds went to sustainability research in 2013/2014. Of that, $10,494 went to student research and $81,988 went to faculty research in sustainability.

Out of the 189 MacEwan University faculty conducting research in 2013/14, 26 are focused on sustainability.

Continuing Progress

An approximate fund of $45,000 will be put toward sustainability research in 2014/15 through the Research Services Special Projects Fund.

Earth Common Journal (ECJ) is an international, undergraduate, peer-reviewed journal that provides a forum for students to communicate a diversity of ideas and information on issues concerning conservation, sustainability and climate change. Earth Common Journal is published by the MacEwan University Bachelor of Communication Studies program. It is published annually in September, with its inaugural issue released in 2011.

Goal 4: Climate change and air quality

sustainimg_icon_4Reducing MacEwan's impact on global climate change, optimize energy performance, reduce energy consumption, address air quality issues


From our 2009 baseline, total emissions scope 1 and 2 per FLE and FTE have decreased by 14% in 2012/13. For the first time we calculated scope 3 emissions and included business travel, IT purchases, paper purchases, and commuting trends to and from the university by staff and students. Our total scope 3 emissions for 2012/13 were evaluated at 9,840 tonnes which is equivalent to about 23,000 barrels of oil consumed.

An Alternative Energy and Carbon Reduction Feasibility Study was commissioned by Facilities and completed by Vital Engineering. A phased approach is recommended for MacEwan University including cogeneration as the first phase at CCC which could potentially result in 1,650 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission reductions.

We completed an inventory of significant air emissions from stationary sources on campus.

Continuing Progress

As a signatory of the University and College Presidents’ Climate Change Statement of Action, MacEwan University will continue to update its greenhouse gas emission inventory, define its reduction targets, and facilitate an implementation plan and reduction strategy.

MacEwan University was featured in Construction Canada magazine for its lighting retrofit project, which replaced 6,500 old luminaires with lighting fixtures that reduced energy consumption by 47% to 60%.

Goal 5: Food services and sustainable food systems

sustainimg_icon_5Mitigating the impact of food services through responsible purchasing and dining practices, as well as providing alternative choices to build a sustainable food system


31% of MacEwan University’s dining services' food and beverage expenditures were locally sourced and/or third party certified in 2012/13.

Our food contractor ensures vegetarian and/or vegan options available at each location daily, and about 55% of dining services food are categorized as animal products.

We completed a week-long audit with Hospitality Services of MacEwan University’s internal events catered by our food service contractor and found 9.5% of catering invoices linked to food waste.

Continuing Progress

We are developing tender requirements for upcoming renewal of food contract.

All napkins are made with 100% recycled content and all dispensers have been converted to 1-ply to reduce consumption. The conversion to 100% recycled content napkins saves over 8200 gallons of water, 4688 kilowatts of energy, 445 gallons of oil, 95 cubic feet of landfill, and 20 trees annually.

Goal 6: Low impact development and grounds maintenance

sustainimg_icon_6Incorporating low impact development practices through integrated landscaping and grounds maintenance


Campus landscaping equivalent to 9.17 acres is now managed in accordance with the Integrated Pest Management plan adopted by Facilities in 2014.

Continuing Progress

Our facilities continue to prioritize the use of native plant species that are drought-tolerant in landscaping around MacEwan University campuses in order to reduce water use.

As part of MacEwan University’s effort to establish more sustainable landscaping and ground maintenance, a centrally controlled irrigation system that includes a weather station is used to optimize and regulate water use. All plant beds are mulched to retain additional moisture and all grass is mulched rather than bagged to further reduce waste.

Goal 7: Purchasing and asset management

sustainimg_icon_7Supporting equitable and environmental purchasing and asset management


Since the MacEwan University rebranding in 2013, all letterhead and business cards are printed on 100% post-consumer paper and include the marking “printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper.”

A furniture reuse program has generated a decrease in our new furniture purchases from $200,000 in 2012/13 to $125,000 in 2013/14.

Continuing Progress

The SOSC has recommended that we convert the entire university’s office paper purchases to 100% post-consumer paper. A paper reduction strategy will be implemented to help offset the cost increase for the paper conversion to 100% post-consumer paper.

In 2012/13 close to 80% of our office paper purchases were for wood fiber paper that is manufactured without the use of any recycled or alternative fibers. Only 9% of our office paper purchases were certified as 100% post-consumer recycled fiber paper. In 2013/14 our consumption of wood fiber paper went down to 55% and the amount of office paper purchases certified as 100% post-consumer recycled fiber paper increased to 38%.

Goal 8: Alternative transportation

sustainimg_icon_8Supporting alternative modes of transportation that lessen transportation-related emissions


A mobility survey was developed to evaluate average vehicle ridership, alternative transportation, average commute time, and carbon emissions.

63% of students and 40% of employees used sustainable options when commuting to and from MacEwan University in 2013/14.

An Idle Free campaign was implemented across City Centre Campus. Drop-off zones were identified and signage implemented to instruct drivers that idling for “one minute or less is best.”

Continuing Progress

Transportation services launched a car-share program accessible to all students, staff, and faculty at the university.

With NUS-UK funding from Green Impact pilot, SAMU invested in a bike repair station in the bike storage area of the RHLC building parkade.

Goal 9: Towards zero waste

sustainimg_icon_9Reducing waste generation on campus


An estimated 63% of waste was diverted from the landfill in 2012.

We diverted close to three tonnes of books to reuse via Better World Books and recycled another 2.8 tonnes from 2011 to 2014.

The Department of Physical Sciences tracked 1,845 litres of hazardous waste disposal in 2013/14.

We tracked 304 KG of electronic waste diverted to reuse and recycling. Continuing to host annual electronic waste drives across all campuses in 2012.

Continuing Progress

We conducted a waste audit before and after new signage implementation and found 9% decrease in contamination levels. Signage upgrade now underway across all campuses.

Facilities tracked the total number of waste versus recycling and found that diversion to recycling was at 24.5% at SAMU Fall Fest activities, an improvement of 4.5% waste diversion from the 2013 baseline.

We tracked a 23.5% diversion of our construction and demolition materials to reuse or recycling in 2012/13.

For two days, the Re-Love Market was home to 40 volunteers, 75 swappers and six tonnes of donated items up for sale. The event served 500 shoppers consisting of both community members and students who bought items totaling nearly 1.5 tonnes. The Market raised close to $2,000 which will support Residence’s Alternative Spring Break, students working with Habitat for Humanity and developing the Re-Love program on campus.

Goal 10: Water and sustainable water management practices

sustainimg_icon_10Conserving and protecting water through sustainable water management practices


Facilities has implemented 13 new water refill stations across CCC and ACC since 2012, allowing more students, staff, faculty, and visitors to fill up reusable water bottles.

Our weighted consumption of potable water in 2012/13 has decreased from the 2009 baseline by 19%.

Continuing Progress

A tactic group has been created as part of the SOSC, and is responsible for reviewing the impact of departmental purchases of spring water bottles for coolers.

A large cistern was built in the parkade of the RHLC building to eliminate discharge of stormwater into the sewer system. The water would be cleaned and used to supply all the irrigation for campus landscaping and more than half the toilets on CCC campus. This water conservation strategy was intended to reduce water consumption by more than 60% (equivalent to 6 million liters per year). This functionality was never activated. Instead the cistern is kept empty and used as emergency flood tank for the basement of residence.
By the end of 2013, the three water refill stations with integrated counters in buildings 5, 6, and 7 tracked a reduction of 240,832 disposable plastic bottles.

Goal 11: Plans and resources

sustainimg_icon_11Developing plans and resources to organize, implement and publicize sustainability initiatives


The PVP approved the Sustainability Planning Model as the new planning process for sustainability to engage all areas of the university.

A Sustainability Coordinator was hired to help deliver Green Impact program and STARS reporting.

A student sustainability assistant was hired to support with sustainability initiatives and student outreach activities.

We created the Leadership for Sustainability Award as part of MacEwan Day.

We submitted the STARS 2.0 report and obtained Silver certification.

Continuing Progress

We are creating an Updated Campus Sustainability Plan for 2015-2019.

Sustainability in education and operations adopted as part of MacEwan University’s Integrated Strategic Plan and sets the following objectives for 2014-2019:

1. Have rigorous assessment and measurement procedures to establish sustainability indicator baselines

2. Introduce a university-wide course, “Sustainability 101,” and publish a catalogue of courses focused on sustainability as the basis to establish a Minor in Sustainability Studies

3. Incorporate sustainability practices in procedures and operations.

Goal 12: Employee engagement

sustainimg_icon_12Offering opportunities for employees to learn how their daily activities impact sustainability efforts at MacEwan


We participated in the production of a video introducing the Office of Sustainability and key services for new faculty members.

Continuing Progress

We are now presenting the Office of Sustainability at the New Employee Orientation sessions and providing materials for digital package to new employees.

14 teams participated in a Green Impact pilot in 2013/14, a program that encourages sustainable action among MacEwan University employees. Together with 22 trained student Green Impact consultants, they implemented 700 actions for sustainability and reached over 300 employees.

Goal 13: Socially responsible investment


Supporting socially responsible investment on campus and financially supporting sustainability initiatives


We co-founded the Sustainable Campus International Competition, which aims to recognize student-led projects generating positive environmental, social, and economic impacts; 2015 will be the third year of the competition, which gathered more than 120 applicants from 25 universities in 20 countries worldwide in 2014.

Continuing Progress

MacEwan formed a multi-stakeholder tactic group to review best practices and produce a set of recommendations on sustainability investment strategies.

We are developing a proposal to reinvest savings from sustainability programs, resulting in a reduction of spending on office supplies, paper, travel, water, gas, electricity, and overall resource efficiencies.

In 2013/14, MacEwan University student-led funding confirmed $42,000 going towards campus sustainability projects: Re-Love Market, IncrEDIBLE MacEwan, Sustainable Business Week and SCIC.

Goal 14: Community engagement and continuing education

sustainimg_icon_14Supporting volunteerism, partnership, continuing education and outreach that contribute to community needs and advocate for sustainability outside of the institution


From the 303 continuing education courses currently offered, we identified 8 that addressed sustainability.

Continuing Progress

We developed a partnership with Riverbend Gardens, a community-supported agriculture program, and created a new collection point at the student residence building offering fresh vegetables from local farmers to local consumers.

Participated in the 2014 Alberta-wide Earth Hour, One Hour No Power Campus Challenge, receiving 383 pledges and coming in sixth place out of 13 participating institutions

MacEwan University has made a commitment to sustainability through the following agreements:

Talloires Declaration

Signed February 2009

Through endorsement of the Talloires Declaration, MacEwan University has pledged to support environmental citizenship at all levels on campus, with the goal of advancing global environmental literacy and sustainable development.

Read the declaration (PDF) »

Pan-Canadian Protocol for Sustainability

Signed May 2009

The Pan-Canadian Protocol for Sustainability commits signatories to foster sustainability practices and principles across all campus functions and encourages a participatory process in achieving these goals.

Read the protocol (PDF) »

University and College Presidents' Climate Change Statement of Action

Signed June 2009

The University and College Presidents’ Climate Change Statement of Action commits the University to address climate change. This will involve developing a comprehensive Greenhouse Gas Emissions inventory, establishing reduction targets, and facilitating an implementation plan and reduction strategy.

Learn more about the statement of action »

Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME)

In 2011, the MacEwan University School of Business signed on to PRME, an initiative of the United Nations Global Compact Office that focuses on integrating human rights, labour rights, environmental sustainability and anti-corruption into the university curriculum. Several School of Business courses include sustainability as part of their curricula.

Learn more about PRME »