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Becoming a Golden Hawk means more than just cheering on our (really good) varsity teams – it means being a student who cares about your community, who works hard in the classroom, and who takes advantage of all the learning opportunities that can happen outside the classroom, too.

Wilfrid Laurier University has made significant strides in its sustainability standing and is now recognized as an institutional leader in sustainability. Established in 2010 because of an active and concerned group of students, the Laurier Sustainability Office is now an organized group that provides measurable value – financial and process savings, compliance to legislation and other mandates, and significant institutional recognition. Embedding sustainability in the short-, medium- and long-term goals of the university has equipped the institution to respond to existing issues and emerging trends and opportunities.

The Sustainability Office has baselined and benchmarked campus sustainability indicators to understand progress to date and inform the creation of action-oriented responses outlined in this Plan. Two major assessments were completed using the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) self-reporting Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) framework. Laurier achieved a Bronze rating in 2010 and advanced to a Silver rating in late 2013. The Sustainability Office is currently undertaking the third STARS assessment our Laurier’s campuses, which will be completed in the fall of 2018. Additionally, the Sustainability Office participated in a lengthy stakeholder engagement process to gather key information from the Laurier community regarding this Plan.

Based on the feedback received, the Sustainability Office developed a strong understanding of the state of sustainability on campus and in the post-secondary education sector, in addition to the sustainability goals of the Laurier community. Building on this, the Sustainability Office created a plan that represents Laurier’s own unique vision while embracing its strengths and confronting its weaknesses. The feedback received from the Laurier community made it clear that the overall goal of this plan must be to improve well-being by strengthening sustainability in everyday educational, operational and community processes. Achieving this goal will be accomplished through key strategic direction, as well as a comprehensive plan for sustainability on campus and beyond for the next five years.

Definitions and Evolution

Sustainability and Well-Being

The stakeholder consultation process demonstrated that the Laurier community values well-being as an essential aspect of sustainability and focus in our planning and operations.

  • 95% believe in a more sustainable campus and community add to personal health and well-being.
  • 100% believe it is important to live in a sustainable way.

Definitions of Sustainability

The term sustainability refers to the preservation of environmental, economic and social well-being for ourselves as well as future generations. Sustainability is not just environmentalism. Embedded in most definitions of sustainability, there is also a focus on social issues and economic development.

At Laurier, the scope of sustainability involves education, operations and community partnerships. Education ranges from formal programming and academics to outreach and awareness raising. Operations spans planning, design and construction, as well as facilities and business operations. Community partnerships includes both internal and external relationships with stakeholders in our community.

  • Environmental Sustainability: Refers to the health of the Earth’s natural (and free) resources, including geology, soil, air, water and all living organisms.
  • Economic Sustainability: Refers to the conservation and management of existing resources through optimal means to achieve a responsible and beneficial balance over the long term.
  • Social Sustainability: Including culture and knowledge, refers to social and related environmental justice issues, such as access to healthy and affordable resources.

Sustainability Evolution at Laurier

  • 2009: The Sustainability Office is created as a result of the hard work of Laurier students led to the passing of a referendum question at the Wilfrid Laurier University Students' Union election.
  • 2010: The Sustainability Office officially opens and first employee is hired; Completion of first AASHE STARS rating, achieving Bronze. 
  • 2012: Laurier publishes its first five-year Sustainability Action Plan 2012-2016.
  • 2014: Completion of second AASHE STARS rating, achieving Silver; Additional funding is confirmed and allows for the hiring of an outreach and program coordinator.
  • 2016: The Sustainability Office grows further with the addition of an energy manager; Laurier achieves internal greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target of 15% tCO2e / ft2; Laurier achieves public GHG reduction target of 25% tCO2e / ft2 as a pledging member of Sustainable Waterloo Region's Regional Sustainability Initiative; Laurier achieves total GHG reduction of 35% tCO2e / ft2 compared to 2009 baseline.
  • 2018: Laurier publishes a new five-year Sustainability Action Plan 2018-2022.

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