The University of Calgary's efforts to be environmentally aware are finally paying off.
The College Sustainability Report Card profiles 300 post-secondary schools across the United States and Canada and for the first time, the U of C was named in the report. The final evaluation gave the U of C an overall grade of a B+, ranking it second in Canada as well as recognizing it as a leader in sustainability. University of Calgary president Havey Weingarten's and the Office of Sustainability's completed questionaires and a thorough search of the university website were used in the evaluation process. The institution is graded in nine different categories including food and recycling, administration and investment opportunities.
Office of Sustainability director Joanne Perdue is putting together numerous programs and events to promote sustainability.
"There are a lot of exciting programs happening right now that will get students, staff and faculty members involved," said Perdue.
The program will invite the university as a community to particpate in challenges between faculties and residences. The first phase is dedicated to climate change and reducing carbon emissions. Those involved are encouraged to carpool or use transit. December will be dedicated to reducing waste, re-using and recycling. The last phase starting in February will focus on reducing water use. Each challenge will have several events including a Green Cafe Forum where students can participate in a discussion with the Students' Union.
Other events for the month include My Market, a monthly market in the MacEwan Student Centre selling local food and fair trade products, an online scavenger hunt and a climate change class.
"Recognition of our health is linked to our environment and vice versa," said sustainability co-ordinater Jo Wright.
Wright is helping the Save NRG committee, dedicated to reducing energy usage in residence, by providing students with more resources and tools to increase sustainability in residence life.
The Energy, Environment and Experimental Learning building began construction in August and its architects are keeping the environment and sustainability in mind.
The building will have much needed laboratories for science and engineering students as well as additional space for undergraduate and graduate students. It will be supporting sustainability by using natural sunlight as the main light source in the building, having light sensors in the rooms, food options that use little waste and using geothermal energy to heat and cool the building. Planners are also working with the SU to see if banning plastic water bottles is a viable option. The EEEL building will be complete by 2011.
A cogeneration project is also in place with plans to be running in 2011. The current central plant will be upgraded to a cogenerating heating/cooling plant which will allow the university to create a substantial amount of its own electricity and heat. The cogeneration plant will result in a 40 per cent reduction in CO2 green house gas emissions compared to the levels recorded in 1990.
"We still have a ways to go," said Perdue.