Humber College has improved the experience of environmental sustainability across its campuses and now has received a silver STARS certification this year to prove. Compared to other colleges in the GTA, said Humber administration, the school is getting ahead of the game when it comes to being green on campus.
“[Humber is] the first college in Ontario to receive Silver, and the third college in all of Canada to receive [it]. So I think we are starting to inch out in front of the rest. There is a lot more we can do, in all sorts of different areas. Just because we’re doing well doesn’t mean we can rest on that,” said Lindsay Walker, Humber’s Sustainable service manager.
The STARS rating for sustainability for institutions, such as college campuses, is based on a number of reports that will be reviewed by the council and then put through a points system of four different categories: Academics, Engagement, Operations, and Planning & Administration. Along with the four categories, institutions can also gain four extra points for Innovation through the creation of new practices and performances.
When Humber had originally submitted their reports to STARS they received a bronze certification for sustainability on campus. Amelia Velasco, a fourth year student in the Sustainable Energy and Building Technology program and also a participating member of Humber’s Sustainability services, helped correct mistakes in the original reports that gave way for Humber to receive the silver STAR rating they now have.
Since the start of the current fall semester Humber’s sustainable services have changed the Smart Commute program that now allows access for students and staff to receive parking permits and preferred spaces.
They have also implemented an International student group that is focused on making Humber a Fair Trade campus, created a sustainability audit to be used through the campus to evaluate and improve sustainability in all functional areas, and created a five-year Humber Sustainability Program, among many other plan additions for the rest of the academic year.
The new five-year Sustainability Plan targets areas for improvement on campus through three tiers: socially, economically, and ecologically. The goals for the plan are aimed towards providing information and creating an environment where students incorporate these interactions daily such as choosing where to throw out certain food products.
“Staff, faculty and students will all be aware of everything going on, and there will be more and more participation around sustainability events … reducing our impact on our community and environment. It’s not just one thing, I see it just becoming more and more part of the everyday on our campuses,” said Walker.
The Sustainability program has been very active the past few weeks on both campuses to create awareness amount new and returning students and staff. Student ambassadors have been seen standing near and around the new garbage and recycling booths for students to use. They have also set up booths to create awareness and to explain to students what new and upcoming events that will held during the academic year.
“It’s been a great experience so far. I get to work on many types of projects and interact with different departments throughout the school. I love seeing the progress and impact our campaigns have on campus,” said Velasco.
As the academic year ramps up for students and staff they can look forward to enjoying the outcome of having a sustainable environmental on campus by walking through the Arboretum at North campus or travelling through the parks and trails near the Lakeshore campus. As Humber being more environmental aware, they are creating additional green space for Toronto overall.
“In my opinion the GTA is one of the most sustainable areas of Ontario. During my time working at a consulting firm specializing in sustainable buildings I saw first-hand all the effort being put into the area; from the implementation of bike share and car share programs to the Toronto Green Standard for new construction,” said Kelly Lillie, Project Coordinator at LVM.