Thompson Rivers University is on the top of the world when it comes to global sustainability initiatives and achievements.
It was unveiled late Monday morning in the Indigenous Art Gallery Foyer in the Brown Family House of Learning that TRU was recognized as the world-wide leader in encouraging sustainability in all aspects of higher education.
“TRU is proud to have achieved a STARS Platinum rating for our sustainability accomplishments,” said TRU President and Vice-Chancellor (Interim) Christine Bovis-Cnossen. “This recognition builds on the university’s strategic priorities and reaffirms our commitment to realizing a healthy, prosperous and sustainable campus community.”
TRU is currently the highest-rated university in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s global Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS). TRU was joined by Colorado State University, Stanford University, the University of New Hampshire and the University of California, Irvine as other institutions to receive the platinum rating.
“It’s incredibly exciting that Thompson Rivers University is the first institution in Canada and the first master’s-designating institution to achieve this impressive distinction,” said AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “It sets the standard for all Canadian and master’s-designating institutions to follow suit with their sustainability performance.”
The STARS program relies on self-evaluation and TRU excelled across the innovation and leadership, engagement, planning and administration, operations and academics categories.
“This was eight years in the making for TRU and quite honestly, couldn’t have come at a more poignant time with scientists, global leaders and governments struggling for solutions to our environmental challenges,” said Vice-President of Administration and Finance Matt Milovick.
Helping earn the platinum status with an 88.31 percent score was the continued development of the campus compost and zero waste initiatives, the injection of sustainability into curriculums across many programs, the use of ride sharing and Ebikes, and the creation of energy-saving projects, to name a few.
“We essentially are trying to eliminate our greenhouse gas emissions. We as an institution are far ahead of any provincial, federal or global climate change commitments,” said TRU’s Director of Sustainability, Jim Gudjonson.
As a charter STARS participant, TRU was among the first wave of post-secondary institutions to commit to completing a sustainability assessment in 2010. TRU obtained a silver rating with its first report in 2011, and achieved gold in 2014 with its second report. That year, TRU developed a plan for sustainability using the STARS reporting system as a framework and reached platinum two years ahead of schedule.
“We are excited to be the first in Canada and one of only five higher education institutions globally to achieve this rating,” said Milovick. “This is a huge testament to our commitment to building sustainability into everything we do.”
While this was a very proud day for the faculty, staff and students at TRU, it was also just the beginning in many ways.
“We all must work together to solve the problems we face today, climate change more than any others,” said Nicholas Warner, the campaigns representative for the TRU Students Union (TRUSU). “I hope with this recognition, it will inspire other institutions to be part of that change.”