SFU Business students found that SFU trails UBC and UVic in a number sustainability metrics.

SFU lags in sustainability initiatives

June 25, 2009

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How do SFU’s sustainability initiatives compare with those of UBC and UVic?

This spring, nine SFU Business sustainability honours students decided to find out. The group undertook a comprehensive review of each school’s sustainability initiatives, comparing performance, leadership, operations, teaching, research, finance and community engagement.

The good news: SFU has active student sustainability groups, leading sustainability researchers, an award-winning energy-management program, a passionate sustainability advisory committee and a new Faculty of Environment.

But SFU is trailing in key areas including the number of staff hired to institutionalize sustainability. SFU’s single part-time sustainability coordinator position pales in comparison to UVic’s three full-time staff and UBC’s 10-person sustainability office.

All three universities are members of AASHE, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. But only UBC participates in the association’s STARS sustainability rating system, which provides a common standard for accountability in sustainability reporting and stimulating continual improvement.

UBC claims 400 sustainability-related courses, while UVic boasts 200, but SFU offers just over 20, although the students noted SFU hasn’t yet established a formal sustainability course inventory.

Energy management aside, SFU also trails in areas such as composting, paper reduction, LEED green-building certification and the use of green cleaning products.

And while SFU’s seven student-run sustainability programs compare well with the six at UBC, neither university can compete with UVic’s 11.

Among their recommendations, the students suggest creating a university sustainability office, earmarking funding for sustainability-related projects, joining STARS and making "a strong interest in sustainability" a selection criterion for the next SFU president.

For the complete comparison and recommendations, visit and download newSFU.pdf.


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