Posted on: December 5, 2014
In its commitment to steadily reduce its carbon footprint over the short, mid, and long term, Thompson Rivers University has released a bold plan that can be monitored and measured.
The Strategic Sustainability Plan is a no-nonsense roadmap spanning the next five years and indicates in plain language and real numbers where the university wants to go, how it will get there, and how long it will take.
“This plan is progressive because it’s not just about reducing our carbon footprint, it’s about creating a richer work environment for faculty and staff, and a richer learning environment for students, said Jim Gudjonson, TRU’s director of Environment and Sustainability. “Students increasingly want to be part of positive change, and be equipped to face the challenges of the their generation.”
Among the many initiatives over the next few years, TRU wants to reduce the amount of garbage going to the landfill, create on-campus gardens, have agreements with beverage and food companies based closer to TRU and with greener certification, reduce vehicles on campus through improved transit and car sharing, reduce water usage through better metering and monitoring, collect and use more renewable energy like solar and wind, protect environmentally sensitive areas and species on campus land, create year-round outdoor gathering spaces, and develop a zero-waste policy for campus construction projects.
“We wanted to build a plan where the outcomes were achievable, measurable, and time-bound,” said Gudjonson, adding the SSP was framed around a scorecard called Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), a program of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Though a self-reporting scoring system, more than 200 colleges and universities are on board with STARS as they work towards shrinking their carbon footprints and becoming greener in the process.
Three years ago, as a charter member of STARS, TRU received a silver rating; Gudjonson would like it to be gold when it is time to renew this plan. With sustainability (financial, economic, cultural, creative, and environmental) identified among TRU’s Strategic Priorities for 2014-19, many of the items on the wish list will be addressed or get done.
The SSP is divided into four goal areas: operations and planning, advocacy and engagement, lea