For the tenth year, the University of Toronto has been named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers. This recognition is a testament to our collective sustainability efforts across all three campuses.
U of T was recognized as a leader in sustainable building design, food services, transportation initiatives, waste reduction, and community partnerships. This award speaks to the hard work and dedication of the students, faculty, and staff who are committed to reducing our environmental footprint and creating a more sustainable future. Here are some highlights:
As a leader in the study and application of sustainability in buildings and infrastructure, the University has taken measures to reduce the footprint of our buildings through stringent design standards for new construction and renovations, solar installations, green roofs, solar water heating, electric vehicle charging stations, to name a few. A great example is the construction of Canada’s largest urban geo-exchange system deep under King’s College Circle at the St. George campus, which will help to heat and cool the surrounding historic buildings surrounding the historic by using the earth as a thermal battery. This project will be fully complete by spring 2024.
U of T is taking the initiative to identify ways it can meet the challenges of climate change. A great example is the Climate Positive Plan, which sets a long-term goal for greenhouse gas reduction, committing the St. George campus to become better than carbon neutral before 2050. The Mississauga campus also has a Sustainability Strategic Plan to create a more concerted effort around sustainability work at the campus.
The St. George Sustainability Office works to embed sustainability into the fabric of University operations and the on-campus experience. With the principles of regenerative sustainability and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals as guides, the Sustainability Office engages and empowers U of T students, faculty, librarians, and staff to act as sustainability change agents both on and off-campus. We also work collaboratively with our colleagues responsible for campus stewardship to achieve our sustainability commitments. UTM and UTSC also have similar offices to support their campuses.
U of T’s Food Services have taken the lead in raising awareness about food sourcing and waste generation through several programs, from the Field to Fork and Go Local Wednesdays programs, which address food sourcing, to the Lug-A-Mug, Eco-Tray and Eco-Takeout Container initiatives, which address unnecessary waste. All campuses are fair trade designated.
Community partnerships are also a key part of the University’s sustainability efforts. U of T is a signatory to the University Climate Change Coalition and has partnered with organizations like the Canadian Green Building Council/CaGBC, Evergreen Canada, Toronto Seed Library, the Environmental and Related Technologies Hub (EaRTH), and more.
The U of T Trash Team is a community group made of staff, students, and local volunteers that work to increase waste literacy, and various on-campus food services programs that all contribute to the University’s green initiatives. The UTSC Farmers Market, Green Ideas, Sustainable Action Awards, Greener News, Sustainable Change Programs, and more are all part of U of T’s commitment to sustainability.
Additional unique initiatives include the Swap Shop, which offers surplus furniture, office equipment and supplies to the University community, and the FreeStore, which collects everything students leave behind for reuse or proper recycling.
As we move forward, we aim to build on our success and work towards further reducing our environmental impact and promoting sustainable practices. We encourage all U of T employees to continue to support our sustainability efforts by participating in the various programs and initiatives that are available.
Thank you for all that you do to make the University of Toronto a more sustainable place to work and learn. Together, we can make a positive impact on the environment.