July 26, 2021Print | PDF
Wilfrid Laurier University is highlighting its green leadership in the post-secondary sector with the release of its 2020-2021 Annual Sustainability Report (PDF).
The report highlights significant progress on Laurier’s sustainability goals during the past year, including reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, green infrastructure improvements and engagement with community partners to move the university toward net-zero emissions by 2050.
During the last year, Laurier reduced its GHG emissions by more than 11 per cent across its campuses, reaching its 2022 emissions reduction target early. While much of this reduction was due to the lack of students, staff and faculty on Laurier campuses because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are a number of retrofits planned that will further reduce GHG emissions during the coming years, including a retrofit of 60-year-old natural gas boilers on the Waterloo campus, which began in April.
The absence of people on Laurier’s campuses for the past year meant the university was able to take on accelerated infrastructure projects related to the Laurier Energy Efficiency Project (LEEP). In 2020, the university was able to complete the majority of the power generation infrastructure required for a micro-grid being installed on Laurier’s Waterloo campus. The micro-grid connects rooftop solar panels into a generator and battery energy storage system, which can provide electricity for the university as well as feed power back into the provincial grid, resulting in the creation of sustainable energy and minimizing electricity charges. The micro-grid is slated to be online this summer.
Laurier also continues to expand its infrastructure to support electric vehicles and will install five additional EV charging stations on the Waterloo campus during the coming year.
On the Brantford campus, the Sustainability Office has been active in engaging with the community to work on GHG reduction. At the end of 2020, the City of Brantford launched a Community Climate Change Advisory Team. Laurier now sits on this team alongside municipal officials, school board representatives, the health unit, local utilities and other businesses. The Community Climate Change Advisory Team will participate in several sessions throughout 2021 to develop a plan to move the Brantford community toward net-zero emissions by 2050.
Despite the pandemic, the Sustainability Office continued to engage students, faculty and staff in workshops and challenges to educate and change behaviours to more sustainable practices. During fall 2020, the office hosted a virtual Zero Waste Week, which included engaging and innovative challenges, Q&A sessions and social media giveaways. Each day of Zero Waste Week aimed to educate participants about specific local or global challenges concerning excessive waste, including food waste and plastic waste. More than 500 students and 11 community partners participated in Zero Waste Week.
“The Sustainability Office is doing transformational work around the university to help Laurier reach its sustainability goals,” said Lloyd Noronha, vice-president: finance and administration. “Those contributions are not only ecologically beneficial, but also encourage sustainability from an economic standpoint – creating even more opportunities for environmental research, education and innovation at the institution.”
“Sustainability is a strategic priority at Laurier, which was demonstrated throughout the 2020-2021 academic year,” said Ulrike Gross, AVP, Facilities and Asset Management. “The Annual Sustainability Report highlights several achievements in sustainability across our campuses, despite the challenges that were faced. We're looking forward to the years ahead as the Laurier community continues its sustainability journey.”
To learn more about sustainability at Laurier, visit the Sustainability Office website.