Five-year sustainability plan unifies campus groups

by | Nov 23, 2019 | Guelph-Humber, News

Emily Wilson, News Reporter

Humber College has a new vision of sustainability in a recently developed five-year plan which unifies the school as one.

The 2019-2024 Sustainability Plan was announced at both North Campus and Lakeshore in a grand launch showcasing what the school has planned.

Devon Fernandes, Humber’s Sustainability Specialist, was involved in the year-long planning process. The goal was to have a sustainable and inclusive campus and community, he said. 

“It became quite clear that if you’re aiming for a vision of sustainability, that has to include equity, diversity and inclusion or you’re not going to get there,” he said. 

Devon Fernandes, Humber’s Sustainability Specialist, reviews the college’s new five-year sustainability plan. (Emily Wilson)

Fernandes said for the first time, the Sustainability Plan has a three-pillar system. It contains Culture and Community; Teaching, Learning and Applied Research; and Sustainable Operations.  

All three rely on each other to accomplish the more than 150 action plans within the Sustainability Plan. 

Students involved in sustainability around campus are eager to play a part in the action. 

Alena Blanes is happy with the improvements. The fourth-year Media Studies student said many students at Humber care about sustainability but do not understand the importance of it on student life. 

“Affordability, health care, and wellness. These are all things that students care about on their own but don’t see the connection between those issues and sustainability,” Blanes said. 

The B.C. native is a member of the Sustainability Steering Committee (SSC) at Humber and also works for IGNITE, providing sustainability content for the website. 

Ayushi Delvadia, an International Business student from India, said when she moved to Canada, she became aware of climate change and other issues.

“We need a culture of sustainability to begin with, but we need students to be interested enough to take part,” she said.

Delvadia, involved with the SSC, said there was very little dialogue around sustainability until the recent climate strike. Even then she doesn’t see high student interest in the issue and hopes the new changes will help that. 

The sustainability office is working with many departments in the school, which makes Delvadia excited to see happen. The culture and community action plan involves IGNITE with pop-up events and more clubs for awareness, she said.

“I’ve been trying to read up and educate myself and the biggest thing I’ve learned is that it’s not just about the environment, [sustainability] needs a holistic approach,” Delvadia said. 

The curriculum will see sustainability integrated into everyday learning. Important to make sure students understand issues affect them on more than just an environmental level, Blanes said. 

“It’s not all about keeping campus clean from waste but also making sure students are leaving the institution with the proper skills to enter the workforce. [It] helps students see the value of sustainability in their courses and how to integrate it once they graduate,” she said.  

Humber is a leader in energy savings. The newly retrofitted NX building on North Campus is the first to achieve zero carbon status and one of the most sustainable buildings in North America, Fernandes said. 

“Climate crisis isn’t just a challenge, it’s an opportunity,” Fernandes said.