SFU’s 20-Year Sustainability Vision and Goals ambitiously extends the goals of “sustainability” to include social and economic systems.

SFU has embraced sustainability as a core value by recognizing that its institutional responsibility extends beyond its boundaries to include the social, economic and ecological sustainability of its campuses and the communities in which they operate. All SFU community members contribute to this core value in a meaningful way.

SFU’s 20-Year Sustainability Vision and Goals (p. 4)

For us, community sustainability and the sustainability of partnerships underpins social, economic and even ecological sustainability, and rests expressly on SFU’s ability to commit to relationships based principles and values, such as equity, respect and trust. From a human sustainability standpoint, that means the university needs systems and processes that actively support principles-based on-the-ground relationship building and sustainment. 

We love that. Because it means that to make knowledge and education relevant for our local, national and global communities, we have to practice with a human-centred point of view in everything we do.

Offices, labs, events, residences, and dining spaces that certify as a Sustainable Space adopt measurable tactics towards the achievement of goals outlined in SFU’s Sustainability Strategic Plan, thereby contributing to the overall sustainability of the University.

The Office of Community Engagement is a Certified Gold Sustainable Office

In our approach to becoming a Gold Sustainable Space, we knew we had to honour the diversity of people in our office: everyone comes from different histories and we often hold differing beliefs and commitments about what environmental sustainability looks like in our lives.

We held a number of full office consultations where we “took the temperature” of how people were feeling in this process. This surfaced key questions and criticism of the Sustainable Spaces project, itself, and we committed to open dialogue with SFU’s Sustainability Office to address those concerns.

They were incredibly responsive, and our specific questions received honest and excellent answers. But more importantly, our own process became one centred on dialogue – opening up space for different voices. This, in turn, has shaped our continued commitments: we meet semesterly to check in on each of the checklist items, surfacing experiences that challenged or validated our commitments, and leaving with adjusted processes based on what we’ve learned.

We believe that sustainability is a practice, not a certification. But we’ve learned that a certification process is an incredible way to strengthen our current practice. Thank you SFU Sustainability Office!