2020 Sustainability Report

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Sustainability Report 2020

Table of Contents 03. Sustainability at U of G 05. Land Acknowledgement 07. Our Approach 09. Academics and Research 17. Operations 29. Planning and Administration 37. Engagement 45. Closing

Sustainability at U of G

Sustainability at U of G: Our shared story At the University of Guelph, sustainability is central to our mission to Improve Life. Sustainability is about stewarding our valued resources – our people, our campus and our planet – to meet the needs of today and those of future generations. U of G’s sustainability story began more than 150 years ago as our founding colleges worked to advance knowledge, promote education and foster connections with communities. As one of Canada’s top comprehensive and research-intensive universities, we continue to ensure that sustainability permeates throughout our teaching and research and across our campus and wider community. This year, we formed the President’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability to develop plans, guide our progress and collaborate with our community. Over the past year, we have collected U of G data and stories to help us measure our sustainability efforts against an international framework for higher education that is inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This report tells our sustainability story, one that is shared by students, faculty and staff at the University of Guelph.

Land Acknowledgement The University of Guelph recognizes that it is situated on the treaty lands and territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit and that these lands have rich Indigenous histories and vibrant contemporary communities. This region is part of the Dish with One Spoon Wampum, an agreement between the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe Confederacies and their allied nations, to peaceably share the resources around the Great Lakes. As we continue to advance sustainability and act on climate change, it is essential that we refect on our relationships with First Nations, Inuit and MĂŠtis peoples, our responsibility to the land and how we can harness the power of diverse knowledge and perspectives including Indigenous, Western, and other knowledge systems to fnd solutions to the most pressing challenges of our time.

Our Approach At the University of Guelph, sustainability is part of our shared story. Sustainability is a central institutional priority in U of G’s mission to Improve Life. Sustainability has long been an underpinning value of our University. Under our strategic framework, sustainability is a key part of stewarding our valued resources – our people, our campus, our planet – to meet the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Building on those longstanding strengths and aiming to make U of G a leader in advancing environmental sustainability, the President’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability was launched in 2019. Through interdisciplinary teaching and research engagement across our campuses, we continue to generate and apply new knowledge to reimagine our world in numerous ways from building design, energy use, and food production and consumption to transportation, water management, resource recovery and campus grounds. How to measure our progress? We are benchmarking our efforts and achievements against the internationally recognized Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. This transparent, comprehensive self-reporting framework enables universities and colleges to measure their sustainability performance. With an eye to next steps, we will engage the campus community in setting goals and targets as part of an ambitious Sustainability Strategy for the University of Guelph to be launched in 2021.

Academics and Research

For the good of the planet

Innovation and collaboration hold the key to addressing the world’s challenges. Through U of G’s interdisciplinary Centres and Institutes, students, faculty and staff research, study and learn about a range of sustainability topics. Some 250 faculty members conduct sustainability-related research projects and more than 550 courses are offered to undergraduate and graduate students – a collective research and teaching enterprise for the good of the planet.


courses focused on or related to sustainability.


faculty members conducting research related to sustainability.

Sustainability across the disciplines

Among the University’s many sustainability-focused institutes and centres are the following: • The Arrell Food Institute brings together cutting-edge research, agricultural expertise, big data and environmental sciences to transform the global food economy while sustaining the environment. • Cross-campus members of the Guelph Institute for Environmental Research bring innovation and collaborative research to bear on pressing environmental challenges from the climate crisis to biodiversity loss. • Addressing key challenges at the intersection of human, animal and environmental health is the goal of U of G’s One Health Institute. • Plant scientists and engineers in the Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre make sustainable materials that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, from biodegradble food packaging to car parts.



Lang MBA in Sustainable Commerce ranked 18th in the world by Corporate Knights.

Cultivating tomorrow‘s sustainability leaders Reducing food waste one family at a time

Encouraging more sustainable food practices is the goal of U of G researchers studying sources of food waste across the Canadian value chain and highlighting the relationship between food waste and food security. In 2019, a U of G-developed tool kit to help families reduce food waste was recognized by the Danone Institute North America One Planet One Health initiative.

Eat a meal, thank a pollinator A half-acre pollinator meadow and a community reusable bagsharing program are just two examples of research projects involving students in U of G’s Sustainability Ambassadors program. This next generation of leaders will help solve many of our most pressing sustainability challenges, from climate change to waste management to biodiversity loss.

About one in three mouthfuls of food we eat depend on pollinating insects. Yet continued pollinator declines threaten the global food supply. A U of G research team led by environmental scientist Nigel Raine studies pollinator behaviour and ecology and the impacts of environmental stressors to promote pollinator conservation and sustainable agriculture.


Campus as a green living lab

Beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions and electrifying our campus feet, sustainability acts as a catalyst in bringing together academics and campus operations to use the campus as a living lab. Here, where we study, work and play, we‘re incubating the bright ideas that show promise of advancing sustainability on campus, to affect change locally and around the world.

Heating, cooling campus and reducing emissions

Improving the effciency of our district energy system for heating and cooling campus allows us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations. A heat recovery loop system installed in 2004 and expanded in 2019 now captures waste heat to warm water used for heating 10 buildings throughout the campus core. By using waste heat, instead of natural gas, this system effectively reduces our GHG emissions by approximately 5,000 tonnes per year.


reduction in GHG Emissions since 2005.

Students supporting a green campus

In 2007, undergraduate students voted to support establishing the Student Energy Retroft Fund through a $10/ semester fee toward energy conservation projects. When that fee expired in 2019, students voted overwhelmingly for the same fee to establish the Sustainability Action Fund for GHG emission reduction and sustainability initiatives until 2050. The University matches student contributions dollar for dollar -- collaborative climate action, in action.

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student fee supporting campus sustainability.

No such thing as wasted food Every day, food scraps from campus kitchens arrive at the Guelph Centre for Urban Organic Farming for composting. At this certifed organic facility, students grow produce that is then purchased by campus kitchens to make nutritious meals for our community. Under this smart circular food system, food waste becomes a valuable and sustainable resource.

Driving a low-emission future

Transportation accounts for one-quarter of Canada’s carbon emissions. In 2019, Campus Parking Services installed 25 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in prime parking spots across campus. U of G added its frst plug-in electric vehicle to its feet along with four EV chargers to support future EV expansion.

LEED-ing the way in green building design More than half a million square feet of new building construction and adaptive reuse has been LEEDcertifed (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), including the Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre and Macdonald Hall, over the past fve years. From construction to maintenance, U of G puts sustainability frst.

Campus Operations

537,002 SqFt of LEED Certified Building Space.


EV Chargers.


Tonnes of Food Scraps Composted.

Planning and Administration

Our sustainable path forward

A key pillar in U of G’s strategic framework commits the University to stewarding our valued resources by using resources responsibly; remaining an employer of choice; leveraging our land and facilities to serve our academic and research missions; harnessing our strengths to build broad, interdisciplinary knowledge; and leading in advancing environmental sustainability. As a key institutional priority, sustainability permeates the University’s programs, activities and operations.

U of G commits to responsible investment

Being well at work

In 2019, U of G’s commitment to support a thriving workforce, organization and community was recognized by Excellence Canada’s Silver Level Healthy Workplace award. Through its Wellness@ Work initiative, the University supports and implements health-related programs that enable employees to be their best selves at work.

U of G leads in fossil fuel divestment In 2019, U of G became a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Investment supported by the United Nations. Signatories commit to implementing six principles in areas including research, engagement and reporting. Collectively, the PRI works to understand the investment implications of environmental, social and governance factors. The University aims to become a sector leader in sustainable practices and responsible investment. Having already reduced our greenhouse gas emissions to below 1990 levels, we aim to further reduce emissions by 37 per cent by 2030 and by 80 per cent by 2050.

In 2019, U of G became one of the frst Canadian universities to commit to reducing the carbon footprint of its investment portfolio. Following consultations with stakeholders, including students and Fossil Free Guelph, the University decided in 2020 to divest from holdings with fossil fuel reserves within the endowment fund. Board of Governors chair Shauneen Bruder said the decision refects U of G’s broader commitment to sustainability and to Improving Life.

Planning and Administration


$32.4 M 17.5% Committed to Divestment from Holdings with Fossil Fuel Reserves within the Endowment Fund.

Carbon Reduction in Endowment Portfolio.



Excellence Canada Ranking.


Caring for kids and their world

Sustainability is as much about today as it is about tomorrow. That’s why it makes sense for the Child Care and Learning Centre (CCLC) on campus to care not just for kids but also for the environment they will inherit. The centre will introduce a 100-per-cent plant-based menu, intended to help lessen environmental impacts of food production. If children are our future, then the CCLC is redefning “care” to include stewardship of their wider world.

Feeding the community and stemming food waste

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Partners in sustainabilty


At U of G, sustainability is a collaborative effort. Our faculty members engage with communities to turn research into action. Through our Sustainability Ambassador Program, students incubate and implement new ideas on campus and beyond. And our staff members fnd sustainable solutions to community problems on campus and off.

Bee City Canada Campus Founded by U of G students Kiana Gibson and David Sahai, Mealcare Guelph collects and redirects surplus food from campus kitchens to local food banks and community groups. In just over a year, the team delivered almost 11,000 pounds of food to the CSA food bank and other community organizations. In fall 2019, MealCare diverted more than 3,000 pounds of food from landfll.

The University of Guelph is the second university in Canada designated as a “bee campus” by Bee City Canada, a charitable organization that fghts global pollinator decline by protecting pollinators through local action. Bee campus status recognizes our leadership in protecting, promoting and celebrating native pollinators – a key part of our collective food security.


CCLC Plant-Based Menu.


LBS of food recovered and donated to the CSA Foodbank by Mealshare.


Campus in Canada named a Bee City Canada Campus.