History of Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan
Sustainability initiatives have been formally pursued in campus operations since 2004 when a Sustainability Coordinator was hired in the Facilities Management Division. On the academic side, sustainability became an area of focus in graduate studies with the establishment of the School of Environment and Sustainability in 2007. More recently, in 2012, the Sustainability Education Research Institute (SERI) was established to conduct research on environment and sustainability in relation to education.
In its Second Integrated Plan, the university identified sustainability as a global issue that needs addressing in all areas of its activities. An 11 member group of representatives from across campus, the Sustainability Commitment Working Group (SCWG), was formed. Guided by the Plan's vision that sustainability “must permeate our thinking”, the SCWG developed the following definition and vision:
Definition: Sustainability is the stewardship of the natural environment in a socially and economically responsible manner that meets the needs of both present and future generations.
Vision: Every member of the university community will act sustainably in all areas of campus life: education, research, operations, governance, and community engagement.
Over the course of the Second Integrated Plan's 4-year cycle, the SCWG undertook benchmarking and extensive stakeholder consultation to understand the gap between where we were and where we should be. They measured the university's sustainability performance using the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™. A bronze rating was achieved. Understanding where gaps existed, the SCWG then developed a unified strategy to move the university toward realizing sustainability as a central organizing principle across five areas—education, research, operations, community engagement and governance. The strategy included:
- A Campus Sustainability Plan;
- Becoming a signatory to the University and College Presidents’ Climate Change Statement of Action for Canada;
- Establishing a Sustainability Committee with campus-wide representation to provide leadership;
- Establishing the Campus Sustainability Revolving Fund.
The Third Integrated Plan commits to "Model Sustainability and Practice Effective Stewardship", setting a goal for a silver STARS rating by 2020.
The Sustainability Committee provides leadership as well as ongoing oversight for the Campus Sustainability Plan. Reflecting the university's awareness that sustainability impacts education, research, operations, community engagement and governance, the committee has campus-wide representation: