Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Leading strategies in sustainability

  Posted on: February 7, 2017

At Thompson Rivers University we have constantly evolved to meet the diverse needs of our expanding community and are keenly aware that local acts can advance global goals. We have been inspired by this and it has informed our Strategic Priorities, and in particular, our desire to give every member of our community the power to make a difference in the world we live in, and the lives of people a world away.

And TRU has made excellent progress so far:

  • TRU’s Sustainability Framework won Gold STARS status in 2014 and TRU is pursuing STARS Platinum status by 2020.
  • Enrolment in United Nations Principles for Responsible Investing (UNPRI*) which is the world’s leading proponent of responsible investment.
  • Over $3 million in grants for energy-saving initiatives: organizations awarding grants to TRU include BC Hydro, Fortis, Public Sector Energy Conservation Agreement, Natural Resources Canada and Fraser Basin. These grants have led to a $400,000 annual reduction in overall utility costs from 2011 to now. Green House Gas (GHG) emissions have been reduced by 33% and TRU is on track to reduce GHG by 45% by 2018.
  • Paper use has reduced by 60% since 2012, that’s 22 million sheets per year down to 9 million sheets per year.
  • Waste volume has been reduced by 500 tons—from 1700 to 1200 tons per year since 2012—and TRU has significantly increased recyclable waste, with 40% to 60% of total waste now diverted from landfill.
  • Energy savings of $500,000 per year—greater than those achieved by any other BC post-secondary institution—was recognized by BC Hydro from 2010 to 2016.
  • Biomass renewable energy savings of 16% at Williams Lake. The 400kW Biomass Boiler is designed to heat the Catalina Elementary School, E. J. Bare Education Centre and the TRU Williams Lake campus. The fuel is sourced locally and—by burning biofuel—this boiler system will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 360 T/yr.
  • Car-sharing programs to reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions and vehicular traffic on campus. TRU introduced an employee car sharing program in 2015 and an all-community car-sharing program called ZipCar in 2017.
  • A member of the Worker Rights Consortium for responsible purchasing. Worker Rights Consortium is an independent labour rights monitoring organization, whose purpose is to combat sweatshops and protect the rights of workers who make apparel and other products.

Sustainability is the theme of major upcoming university events

TRU Employee In-Service Day – Feb. 22

On Feb. 22, join us to engage in a day-long event including discussions, workshops, an interactive talk by Alex Steffen—described by the Vancouver SUN as “one of the world’s leading voices on sustainability and the future of the planet”—and a talk by our own Jim Gudjonson, who will share his experience in one of the world’s most fragile ecosystems, the Antarctic.

President’s Lecture Series Keynote – Mar. 6

On Mar. 6, Fabien Cousteau will deliver a talk on “One Ocean, One People”. Drawing on his thrilling marine expeditions, inspirational speaker Fabien Cousteau shares stories of Indigenous Amazon tribes, diving with whales, and pushing the limits of adventure to discover this bond we all share through water, what it means, and why we should care.

IDays Speaking Panel – Mar. 7

On Mar. 7, media personality George Stroumboulopoulos will host a panel discussing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with experts on clean energy, marine life, human rights and gender equality including Kim Katrin Milan, Tom Rand and Fabien Cousteau. 

These significant milestones can only be achieved when sustainability is championed by the entire TRU community, is integral and evident in all processes and functions, and is central to the ethos of the organization. TRU is about to make new inroads in the area of sustainability—demonstrating, yet again, that individuals working collectively towards positive change can make meaningful progress.

Matt Milovick
Vice-President Administration and Finance


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