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SFU’s sustainability performance is golden

November 20, 2018
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Simon Fraser University has earned a Gold rating in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). This transparent, self-reporting framework for post-secondary institutions measures sustainability performance across curriculum, operations, engagement, planning and administration. It was SFU’s third submission to STARS, a program developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), of which SFU is a member.

Almost 500 colleges and universities in 11 countries use STARS to draw meaningful comparisons over time and across institutions using a common set of measurements developed with broad participation from the international campus sustainability community.

SFU’s 2018 submission earned a score of 73.90, a 10-per-cent increase over our last submission in 2014. Erica Lay, acting director of the Sustainability Office, says this increase is a testament to our commitment to sustainability, which is one of SFU’s six underlying principles.

SFU’s score improved, in part, from initiatives such as:

  • Reducing operational greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent over the 2007 baseline
  • Diverting 2,700 tonnes of operational waste from the landfill since 2014
  • Redistributing 4,288 kg of edible produce to the SFU community through the student-led Embark Food Rescue Program
  • Certifying 83 Sustainable Spaces across SFU's three campuses
  • Achieving 51 attendees at the Post-Secondary Recycling Forum held at SFU
  • Training 31 Student Sustainability Educators and Sustainability Peers in 2018

As well, says Lay, “The SFU community played an integral role in the success of this reporting process. Our office had the support of more than 90 community members who completed the STARS report, which contains over 1,000 data points.”

“Sustainability is the responsibility of all students, staff and faculty at SFU, and through this process we were able to highlight all the great work being done at SFU,” adds Martin Pochurko, vice-president finance and administration. “We’re very proud of this accomplishment.”

He says SFU continues to demonstrate excellence in areas pertaining to community engagement, energy conservation, waste diversion and minimization, and student engagement in sustainability through curricular and co-curricular programs.

“With the reporting completed,” says Lay, “we’re already thinking about how we can use some of the takeaways to plan for new programs, partnerships and initiatives that will further involve the SFU community in our sustainability efforts.

“To reach the coveted STARS Platinum rating we have to look at how we can further integrate sustainability within the university’s culture, and how we engage with the entire SFU community.”

Only five institutions worldwide have achieved the Platinum rating, the highest recognition available under the program.

Lay says SFU is continuing to integrate sustainability principles in its academic and operational decision-making, and in several exciting projects on the horizon that include:

  • Introducing a new Sustainable Energy Engineering program to be housed in the Sustainable Energy and Engineering Building, and targeting a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification
  • Constructing the Student Union Building (SUB) on SFU’s Burnaby Campus, also targeting LEED Gold certification
  • Constructing a biomass plant to cut SFU’s operational greenhouse gas emissions on the Burnaby campus by two-thirds
  • Working with various faculty members to pilot the Campus as a Living Lab, which will encourage students to creatively solve SFU’s operational challenges pertaining to sustainability

Keen on getting involved and helping SFU reach a STARS Platinum rating? Visit SFU’s Sustainability website to find out how you can contribute.