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The report card highlights programs like the student ambassadors initiative - photo by Martin Dee
The report card highlights programs like the student ambassadors initiative - photo by Martin Dee

UBC Reports | Vol. 54 | No. 10 | Oct. 2, 2008

UBC Earns Top Sustainability Marks in Canada Places Third Overall in North America

By Brian Lin

UBC has brought home a report card it can be proud of. The Sustainable Endowments Institute recently released its third annual College Sustainability Report Card, giving UBC top marks for its sustainability initiatives.

Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Sustainability Endowments Institute is a non-profit organization funded by the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. It surveyed 300 universities and colleges in the U.S. and Canada on 43 indicators.

UBC is the only Canadian school -- and one of 15 in North America -- to earn an A-, the highest grade designated this year, ranking ahead of Columbia, Harvard, University of Washington and Stanford University.

“The Report Card assessed a broad set of indicators, including green building initiatives, recycling programs, administrative leadership and endowment investment policies,” says UBC President Stephen Toope, who earlier this year established the President’s Advisory Council on Sustainability to coordinate and advance the university’s operational and academic efforts. “It is especially gratifying to see efforts in all areas of our community recognized.”

The full report is available at www.greenreportcard.org. Some of UBC’s key achievements highlighted by the Report Card include:

  • UBC is a signatory to the Talloires Declaration. It has integrated sustainability into its vision statement and strategic plan and formed a President’s Advisory Council on Sustainability.
  • UBC recently finished a capital upgrade campaign that rebuilt or retrofitted nearly 300 buildings on campus to increase energy and water efficiency and reduce emissions.
  • Initiatives of the UBC Sustainability Office – first of its kind in a Canadian university when it opened in 1998 – reduce carbon emissions by 14,000 tonnes annually.
  • UBC has created an advisory committee of faculty, staff, students and alumni on socially responsible investing. The committee advises the Board of Governors on issues of transparency, proxy votes, and socially responsible investment practices.
  • UBC’s dining services exclusively serves local eggs, poultry and milk.
  • In addition to the numerous green building on campus, all new construction is required to achieve LEED Gold certification and all new residential constructions follows equivalent residential construction guidelines set forth in UBC’s Residential Environmental Assessment Program.
  • Initiatives such as the Student Ambassadors Initiative, Sustainability Pledge Program and Student Environment Centre fully engage students in sustainable living.

Other highlights of UBC’s sustainability efforts include:

  • In 1997, UBC became Canada’s first university to adopt a sustainable development policy.
  • In 2003, 2005 and 2006, UBC was Canada’s first and only university to receive Green Campus Recognition from the U.S.-based National Wildlife Federation.
  • Through programs such as EcoTrek and U-Pass, UBC’s Vancouver campus surpasses Canada’s 2012 Kyoto Protocol targets, having reduced over the past 16 years greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent in 2006.
  • In 2007, UBC added 21 targets to the initial 68 in the sustainability strategy, representing commitments made by UBC’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna, B.C. The first progress report against the initial strategy was also published (see www.sustain.ubc.ca/pdfs/ar/UBC-Sustainability_Report_2006-2007-final.pdf).
  • UBC currently offers more than 300 sustainability-related courses.
  • Toope and University of Alberta President Indira Samarasekera were instrumental in committing some of the most influential universities in the world to high sustainability standards at the G8 University Summit in Sapporo last June.
  • Also in 2008, Toope initiated the B.C. Climate Action Statement, signed by all B.C. research university presidents, pledging to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

For more on sustainability at UBC, visit: www.sustain.ubc.ca

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Last reviewed 01-Oct-2008

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