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U of R committed to sustainability on Earth Day and every day

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: April 22, 2021 6:00 a.m.

University of Regina in its natural ecosystem
University of Regina in its natural ecosystem Photo: U of R Photography

Earth Day was celebrated for the first time, in the United States on April 22, 1970 and today more than a billion people in 193 countries participate in recognizing the importance of our planet and the need to take care of it. 

“The Earth Day Canada organization, which was formed in 1990 to encourage Canadians to reduce their environmental footprint, is celebrating Earth Day Everyday this year,” said david Gregory, University of Regina Interim Provost and Vice-President (Academic) and co-chair of the President’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability (PACS). “This theme really resonates with me as over the last five years the University of Regina has been engaged in a broad range of actions designed to reduce our environmental footprint and further our sustainability goals.” 

In January 2016, PACS launched the 2015-2020 Strategic Plan for Sustainability targeting five areas to further our sustainability efforts: Leadership, Waste, Energy, Transportation and Community & Engagement. Some notable achievements in each of these areas include: 

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Multi-material recycling/waste stations
installed in 2019. Credit: John Papandreos,
Facilities Management

Leadership

  • Developed a Goods and Services purchasing policy which includes sustainability and ethics in the purchasing process principles;
  • Updated its Smoke-Free Campus Policy to become a smoke-free campus in 2018; and
  • The Sustainability and Community Engagement Fund awarded over $75,000 to 36 innovative projects including the U-Pass Campaign, Plant Health Care Model, Greywater Reclamation and Reuse for Irrigation, Apiary Project and Coffee Ground Recycling.

Waste

  • Approximately 1,600 landfill bins were replaced with three stream recycling bins;
  • Coffee grounds recycling pilot composted over 1 tonne of coffee grounds;
  • College West residence renewal received over $75,000 for recycled metals which was reinvested in the project; and
  • College Avenue Campus revitalization project:
    • 15,000 salvaged red bricks from Conservatory Building were used inside Tower building;
    • Reused heritage doors, windows, and wood trim;
    • Partnership with Heritage Regina diverted hundreds of items of heritage building material from landfill to community members.

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Revitalized College Avenue Campus was
officially reopened on October 5, 2018.
Credit: U of R Photography
Energy
  • The U of R and SaskPower Industrial Energy Optimization Program partnership retrofit measures include lighting upgrades and increased efficiency in the heating, cooling and ventilation systems, with an overall 19 per cent reduction in energy usage per square foot;
  • FM has begun reporting carbon emissions for the University utility systems and Heating Plant;
  • Carbon footprint has been reduced by 38,019 metric tonnes (te) per year to 30,286 tonnes per year in 2019/20 and an average of 773 tonnes per year over the past 10 years; and
  • Laboratory Building upgrades to fume hoods and exhaust fans, resulting in significant annual utility savings to electricity ($130,000) and natural gas ($30,000).

Transportation

  • U-Pass was launched in September 2016 providing student’s with access to city-wide transit at a reduced rate;
  • Two bike repair stations are available and provide a convenient place to make minor repairs to bikes and tires;
  • Eighty-seven carpool parking stalls in preferred locations in Lots 1, 6 and 13 have been added to encourage carpooling; and
  • Rebuilt roads and landscaping to improve safety and comfort for pedestrians, cyclists and transit users.

Community & Engagement

  • As a founding partner in the Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) on Education for Sustainable Development, several events have been held at the U of R in conjunction with PACS including visits from other RCEs under the UN University initiative;
  • In May 2019, the U of R and Luther College hosted the inaugural conference for the International Association of Universities (IAU) Cluster on Sustainable Development Goal #12: Responsible Consumption and production;
  • Re-orienting Teacher Education to Address Sustainability: Webinar and Student Colloquium on preparing teachings and reflecting Education for Sustainable Development through curricula and pedagogy; and
  • In preparation for the new Sustainability Action Plan, a Sustainability Town Hall was held in November 2020 with over 200 participants.

Information on these and many other actions taken to achieve our sustainability goals is available in the Final Report: 2015-20 Strategic Plan for Sustainability

“It is important to acknowledge the efforts of people across the University who have helped us achieve the successes noted in this final report while also recognizing that we have much more to achieve,” said Kathy McNutt, Vice-President (Research) and PACS co-chair. “It is also reassuring to me that the concern over our environment and the University’s need to take real action on issues such as climate change was consistently, and persistently, raised during the development of the University’s 2020-25 Strategic Plan – All Our Relations: kahkiyaw kiwâhkômâkaninawak. 

“As a result of this input the 2020-25 Strategic Plan identifies Environment and Climate Action as one of five primary areas of focus with a goal of a 25 per cent reduction in our ecological footprint by 2025 compared to our current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, waste production and water consumption.” 

PACS is currently developing the University’s 2021-26 Sustainability Action Plan and has identified nine areas of focus: Climate Action, Education, Energy, Engagement and Communication, Land Use, Leadership, Research, Transportation, and Waste which will form the foundation of the new plan.  Faculty, staff and students interested in becoming involved in helping the University achieve our goal of reducing our ecological footprint over the next five years can learn more here

Related  

U of R research to explore microplastic pollution in Saskatchewan watersheds 

Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative at the University of Regina announces the launch of ClimateWest 

The Conversation: The Paris Agreement at 5: Time’s running out. How to get the world back on track to meet its climate goals 

Environment and Climate Action: U of R’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan Series, Part 5 of 6