Five Year Humber sustainability plan aims to reduce waste

by | Apr 8, 2016 | Campus News, Lakeshore, Life, North, Orangeville

Matthew Owczarz

Earth has a limited amount of natural resources but people continue using non-renewable energy like there is no tomorrow, and at this rate experts believe there very well might not be.

Humber College is reducing its campus footprint with an ambitious five-year sustainability plan committed to preserving resources while reducing waste.

“Sustainability means meeting the needs of the present population without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” said Lindsay Walker, who was hired in 2012 as Humber’s first sustainability manager.

Sustainability is one of Humber’s six values along with excellence, innovation, a student focus, respect and inclusion. In 2012 the college became certified with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

“They assessed our operations and engagement around sustainability, and we obtained a STARS silver rating for our efforts, which is really great,” she said.

In recent years, Humber has installed new water refill stations, implemented a carpool program and constructed green buildings such as the Learning Resource Commons and the F building expansion at North campus. The green buildings are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient in construction, Walker said.

“Humber just recently opened a new bus loop on North campus,” she said. “We worked with the TTC and other transit authorities to work out better schedules in order to promote alternative transportation. Even taking the bus over driving helps the environment,” Walker said.

The amount of waste that is reused on campus has increased to 54 per cent in 2014 from 42 per cent in 2012, according to the Humber Sustainability Report for 2014 – 2015.

“We have done a lot, but much more can be done so we developed a plan to lead us to do more and better,” Walker said.

The 2014 – 2019 Sustainability Plan is the framework for Humber becoming a leading sustainable institution. The plan focuses on reducing the negative human impact around campus, educating students on energy efficiency and creating a healthy culture around sustainable campus life.

“Our future goals are really building on a lot of the things we already started, but we would really like to connect our students to the surrounding environment with outdoor events and classrooms that would help teach students sustainability concepts,” Walker said.

One ongoing effort is embedding sustainable learning outcomes into teaching and learning on campus. Staff and faculty will be educated on sustainability and it will be integrated into various curriculums to raise awareness, according to Humber’s sustainability plan.

“As an educational institution we are a hub for sharing, teaching and promoting sustainability to our students and our community,” said Chris Whitaker, president and CEO of Humber College.

“We have made great progress on our goals so far and we continue to work towards doing more while impacting less,” he said.