Sustainability (GP 38)


January 24, 2008

Revision Date


GP 38

Revision No.

1.0 Purpose

In adopting this policy, Simon Fraser University renews its commitment as a signatory (1991) to the principles espoused in the Talloires Declaration.  The purpose of this policy is to highlight sustainability as an institutional priority for all University activities, providing a foundation on which SFU may establish itself as a leading institution in the transition to a sustainable society.

This policy provides a framework within which other policies and procedures may be developed that demonstrate responsibility and due diligence on the part of the University and that educate and assist members of the University community to understand and fulfill their responsibilities to practice sustainability.

SFU implements this policy mindful of the need to balance ecological, social and economic imperatives in an open and transparent decision-making process.

2.0 Definitions

Sustainability is most commonly defined as "improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems" (Brundtland Report, 1987). Since the concept of sustainability applies to long-term objectives achieved by short- and medium-term actions, the term has application within virtually all spheres of activity.

Talloires Declaration – Composed in 1990 at an international conference in Talloires, France, this is the first official statement made by university administrators of a commitment to environmental sustainability in higher education. The Talloires Declaration is a ten-point action plan for incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching, research, operations and outreach at colleges and universities. It has been signed by over 350 university presidents and chancellors in over 40 countries.

3.0 Policy

3.0.1 SFU will bring vision, intellect and high ethical standards to achieving and maintaining institutional leadership in sustainable operations, research, teaching, performance evaluation and community outreach.

3.1 Leadership in Sustainable Operations

3.1.1 SFU will promote practices that maximize the beneficial effects and minimize the harmful impacts that may arise out of its operational, academic and research activities. Priority will be given to identifying ways of improving the long-term quality and regenerative capacity of the environmental, social and economic systems that support the University’s activities and needs.

3.1.2 SFU will work to minimize its consumption of non-renewable energy, minimize water consumption and contamination, reduce the quantity of solid, organic and hazardous wastes it produces, enhance the ecological integrity of our grounds and employ sustainable building design and construction principles wherever possible.

3.1.3 SFU will balance quality, cost and environmental sustainability in its purchasing and investment decisions. Where relevant, long-term and life-cycle costs will be considered in achieving this balance.

3.1.4 SFU will work to develop and adopt environmentally sustainable practices and processes in all its operations.

3.2 Leadership in Teaching and Researching Sustainability

3.2.1 SFU will strive to be in the forefront of sustainability research and education and will use its institutional capability to promote sustainability within and beyond the University.

3.3 Leadership in Evaluating Success

3.3.1 SFU is committed to assessing the sustainability impacts associated with its activities and will consult with the community in developing and reporting specific targets, priorities and timetables for achieving its sustainability objectives.

3.4 Leadership in Community Sustainability

3.4.1 SFU will seek and develop opportunities to collaborate on sustainability among academic and administrative units across the University and, beyond the University, with its alumni and the surrounding communities.

3.4.2 SFU will work directly with other Canadian universities to increase their capacity to integrate sustainability into their operations and academic initiatives/programs.

3.4.3 SFU will encourage the active engagement of all members of the campus community in issues of sustainability and will support sustainability awareness and action in the greater community.

3.5 Renewal

3.5.1 In recognition of the rate of change surrounding issues pertaining to sustainability and the environment, this Policy will be reviewed two years following its adoption.

4.0 Scope

4.1 The policy applies to all campuses and all activities of Simon Fraser University.

5.0 Roles and Responsibilities

5.1 Vice-Presidents are responsible for reviewing Sustainability Action Plans for their portfolios, and for approving actions, schedules and funding to implement them. Information from the Plans will be compiled and published in an Annual Sustainability Report.

5.2 The Annual Sustainability Report and related progress reports will be reviewed each year by the Sustainability Advisory Committee (see Appendix II), which will provide advice regarding the action planning, reporting and implementation process.

6.0 Authority

6.1 This policy is administered under the authority of the President and all Vice-Presidents.

Appendix I

This policy should be read and understood in conjunction with the following University policies and other documents:

Appendix II

Terms of Reference: Sustainability Advisory Committee (SAC)

The SFU Sustainability Advisory Committee was formed in 2004 with responsibility to initiate and execute a Sustainability Program at SFU. The committee was designated within the portfolio of the Vice-President, Finance and Administration. In 2007, the Chief Facilities Officer/University Architect and the Director Special Projects in the Vice-President Legal Affairs office, assumed responsibilities as Co-chairs for the Committee. The Committee includes students, faculty and administrative and management staff representatives.

Sustainability Advisory Committee (SAC) – Terms of Reference

The SAC:

  • Provides advice and counsel to the Vice-President, Finance and Administration and, through the Vice-President, Finance and Administration, to Senior Administration on all matters related to University sustainability;
  • Reviews and develops performance goals around sustainability practices (in collaboration with the Vice-President, Finance and Administration and with individuals at the University who have operational responsibility for implementing and achieving them and/or expertise helpful in establishing them), and proposes these goals to Senior Administration for adoption;
  • Invites input from internal stakeholders regarding the continuous improvement of the University’s Sustainability Goals; 
  • Promotes sustainability programs and initiatives and participates in advancing the message of sustainability throughout the University among faculty, students and administrative and support staff.

Composition and Membership


Chief Facilities Officer/University Architect
Director, Special Projects, Office of the President

(3) Student representatives: a mix of graduate and undergraduate students appointed by the Vice-President, Finance and Administration (or Chair). Students will be appointed based on their ability to bring energy, commitment to and knowledge of sustainable practices and related issues to the work of the Committee. Appointments will be for 1 year (2 appointments) or 2 years (1 appointment).

(1) Sustainable SFU representative: may be a graduate or undergraduate student, an alumnus/alumna, or another interested member who has demonstrated commitment to sustainability and has been connected with SFU affairs in some way. Those interested may submit an expression of interest to the Chair stating their experience and qualifications. Appointment will be for two-years, and can be renewed by mutual agreement.

(3) Faculty representatives: to be invited by the Vice-President, Finance and Administration (or Chair) in consultation with the Faculty Deans. Invitations will be issued on the basis of demonstrated commitment to sustainability and interest in embedding sustainability as one of the University’s institutional goals. Appointments will be for two years, and can be renewed by mutual agreement.

SFU Community Trust representative: to be selected by the President and CEO of the SFU CT. Appointment will be for an indefinite period, and can be revised by mutual agreement.

Administration and support staff representatives: named by the Vice-President, Finance and Administration in any number and selected from positions with substantial responsibility for the implementation of sustainability initiatives at the University. These staff members are appointed to represent their departments, and are expected to have the authority to effect change in their operations.

Activities of the Committee

The Sustainability Advisory Committee will be Co-Chaired by the Chief Facilities Officer and by the Director, Special Projects. The Committee Secretary assists to facilitate meetings and to coordinate the Committee’s activities.

The committee will identify goals and priorities for each year, chosen for their potential to serve as steps toward comprehensive long-term goals. Individual Task Forces will be struck as deemed necessary, with the number and composition of these to change as the Committee’s activities change. The initial Task Forces set up in 2007 include the following:

  • Task Force to Draft a Sustainability Policy for SFU
  • Task Force to Identify and Build a Network of sustainability groups on campus
  • Task Force focusing on Building Awareness and Communications

The Committee Chairs will provide an Annual Sustainability Report to the President and Vice-Presidents highlighting the prior year’s activities and achievements.