Ontario university campuses shrinking their environmental footprint

From bike-share programs to solar-powered cars and green revolving funds, universities are making significant strides towards greening their campuses, concludes the Council of Ontario Universities’ fifth annual report on the sector’s environmental footprint.

“Sustainability is a key priority for Ontario universities, and it is great to see our students, faculty and staff working within our institutions to develop greener goals and strategies,” says Bonnie M. Patterson, COU President and CEO. “Universities are incorporating more renewable energy sources, adopting green building standards, and conducting waste audits across the province.”

The Growing Greener Campuses at Ontario Universities report outlines the many steps universities are taking to decrease their emissions and overall footprint, including sustainable policies, green buildings and retrofits, sustainable food initiatives, awareness campaigns, research, sustainability benchmarking, and teaching and learning.

“Ontario universities are showing exceptional leadership in building a cleaner future,” says Glen Murray, Ontario’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “I’m looking forward to engaging with these bright, innovative minds as we create a new strategy to combat the challenges of climate change.”

Quick Facts:

  • All 22 Ontario university campuses have begun reporting their emissions totals under new Green Energy Act regulations.
  • All campuses conduct waste audits and have at least six streams of recycling.
  • Of 22 campuses, 21 have adopted green cleaning programs.
  • 20 university campuses have protected bike racks, 14 universities offer bike-sharing programs, and nine have installed bike lanes.
  • Two Ontario universities introduced green revolving funds that invest in sustainable projects to save money through energy conservation; the savings are then re-invested in the fund to support future projects.

Each of Ontario’s universities signed a sustainability pledge in 2009, called Ontario Universities: Committed to a Greener World, committing them to environmental sustainability, with measurable outcomes and mandatory reporting.

The pledge, as well as further background information on the previous Going Greener reports and events, can be found on the COU website.

Read the 2013 Going Greener report here.


COU is a membership organization of 21 publicly assisted universities in Ontario. It works closely with the provincial and federal governments to shape public policies that help universities deliver high-quality programs for students and advance the research and innovation that improves the social, cultural and economic well-being of Ontarians.

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