Royal Roads University has turned silver into gold.
The first Canadian university to be rated by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System has improved its rating from silver in 2009 to gold in 2014 for its sustainability performance in academics, engagement, operations and administration.
“It is a validation of our efforts. We’re working towards continuous improvement in our sustainability performance,” said Jordan Kummerfield, a masters student and research assistant at the Office of Sustainability at Royal Roads. “We’re trying to reduce our impact while maintaining delivery of our programs, and I’m happy to be a part of a school moving forward (like this).”
Changes made at the university included energy retrofits that helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent and saved $130,000 in annual utility savings, switching to more environmentally friendlier chemical cleaning agents and installing sensors and LED lights on most student residences.
Nancy Wilkin, director of the Office of Sustainability, said the university has made those operational improvements and more, despite the challenge of working in a national historic site. She said the university is on track to achieve its greenhouse gas reduction targets by 2020.
“When you’re dealing with heritage buildings on a national historic site, it makes our improvement all the more notable,” she said.
Even the students played a role in the improvement, with a team of environmental science students leading the research that led to top marks in the academic category.
More than 650 institutions on six continents are registered under the rating system, a transparent, self-reporting framework colleges and universities use to track their sustainability.
“All in all, the university continues to lead the way and is walking the talk,” Kummerfield said. “A lot of the talk involved sustainability, and it is nice to see the university follow through on its own actions.”