Green campuses across Canada receive sustainability honour

December 18, 2017 | Campus Life

MacEwan University has been ranked the fourth most sustainable campus in Canada, according to an index from Corporate Knights that was released in October.

The University of Calgary received the top honour.

The rankings were based on a subset of data from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), which highlighted green building management as one of the primary sustainability indicators.

“We’re honoured to be recognized for the work our team is doing on campus,” says Kalen Pilkington, director of the Office of Sustainability. “The data Corporate Knights used to create the rankings sheds light on many of the great initiatives we have on campus.”

The award comes after the sustainability office launched its strategic plan, which aligns with a holistic view of sustainability. It highlights academics, engagement, campus operations and leadership as some of the key areas where sustainability initiatives can grow.

Sustainability is one of the university’s core pillars, eight big ideas that define MacEwan’s core commitments as a university. The university has made major moves in the area over the past year.

The creation of local, sustainable food practices on campus has been a primary focus, with the Tower Gardens, Urban Beekeeping Project and Fair Trade Campus certification shedding light on less carbon-intensive food practices.

With the development of the downtown bike network, transportation has also been a focus, with new bike racks and a bike plan coming to campus.

“We’ve made so much progress, but we don’t want people to be under the impression that there isn’t still work to be done,” says Kalen.

She highlighted community collaborations as one effort the university is making to continue the creation of a culture of sustainability in Edmonton. The Office of Sustainability is working with the City of Edmonton and the University of Alberta on Images of Climate Change, a speaker series that brings prominent sustainability activists to Edmonton to share their stories.

These community partnerships are a source of inspiration, Kalen says.

“There are a lot of other institutions that we look to as leaders in the sustainability field,” she says, highlighting Alberta campuses like the U of A and the U of C. “We want to applaud and recognize their efforts.”

Eventually, Kalen wants to see MacEwan snag the number one spot on the list of green campuses. She says the campus community will have to work together to make that happen.

“This is a university-wide responsibility,” she says. “We want to empower individuals and groups across the university to take part in the effort to make MacEwan University the best place it can possibly be.”

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