A selection of SFU offices have now been sustainability-certified thanks to a new initiative by the university to push the community towards sustainability goals.
The Sustainability Office came out with the initiative that allows the university community to certify offices, events, and dining if they meet a long list of criteria.
The department of human resources, department of economics, Graduate Student Society, the Vancouver Administration Office, science and environment co-op, Embark, and the Sustainability Office have all recently received the certification.
In addition, the C2U Expo held last month and the Renewable Cities Global Learning Forum were certified as sustainable events.
“At SFU, sustainability is not just about preserving the environment. Instead, sustainability is a method to scale ecological, economic, and social practices to maintain the health and spirit of the SFU community,” said Mandy McDougall, program assistant and coordinator of SFU’s Sustainable Spaces program.
Those offices, events, and dining spaces that are eligible to be certified under the program must be performing at least half of the sustainable practices identified by the Sustainability Office, including steps towards waste reduction and conserving electricity.
The office has also identified socially-sustainable practices, including accessible venues that can accommodate people with impaired hearing at events.
Social sustainability includes promoting diversity whilst economic sustainability may involve investing money in a company that prioritizes long-term sustainable practices, McDougall explained. “Actions such as adhering to ethical procurement policies and researching full product life cycles ensure the social and economic aspects of sustainability are considered.”
McDougall also noted that “notable actions by Sustainable Offices so far include purchasing a reusable coffee filter, pledging to take public transportation to campus more often, and carpooling.” Some events also recycle their name tags and, in the future, we could start seeing events using name tags that can actually be watered and wildflowers will grow from them, she continued.
The program is an extension of the Green Offices and Green Labs program that was launched by the university in 2010. “The program’s success led to the current Sustainable Spaces program, which [includes] dining facilities and events across all three campuses — as well participation from faculty, staff, and students,” said McDougall.
Under the program, there are three levels of sustainability that can be achieved, the highest being awarded when an office, event, or dining service meets 90% of the criteria. Those that have been certified can receive support from the Sustainability Office to apply for sustainability-related funding initiatives.
Most participating offices have confirmed that the Sustainable Spaces program “also contributes to a good team mentality. Everyone in the office gets together and exchanges ideas on how to make their work environment more sustainable,” said McDougall.