What is happening in the world of sustainability at U of T? I wasn’t too sure, so to satisfy my own curiosity, I paid a visit to Lauren Binette and Tyler Hunt at U of T’s Sustainability Office.
Turns out (no surprise) that U of T’s Sustainability Office offers some great resources and programs for promoting a green culture on campus. In fact, Sustainability has fostered and supported some major campus-wide environmental changes. Take a look at the Rewire program, which empowers students to change small, everyday habits that can lead to significant environmental impacts. What’s more, in September of 2011, bottled water was removed from most food and vending machine locations, paving the way for you and me to be smarter water consumers – and to invest in a trusty reusable thermos.
I asked Tyler and Lauren to give me a sense of what sustainability looks like at U of T, and both agreed that in the last few years, there has been a marked increase in efforts to create a green culture here. For instance, did you know that the showers at U of T’s Athletic Centre are heated by the sun? In 2009, 100 solar panels were installed on the roof of the athletic centre. During those hot and sunny months, the panels supply about 25% of the heat for laundry and showers.
All the more reason to get clean, people!
Here are just a few of the many more green initiatives at U of T:
• Dig In! U of T Campus Agriculture Network is all about supporting and empowering small-scale, sustainable food production at U of T. The Network represents various urban agriculture projects taking place across colleges, academic departments and campus organizations. Events, skill-sharing, research collaboration, sustainable leadership…you name it, Dig In! offers it.
• Sky Garden: Welcome to U of T’s rooftop vegetable garden! Volunteer-run and supported the Food and Water Institute, the Sky Garden produces about 500 pounds (!) of fresh, organic veggies a year. Most of the harvest goes to the student food bank. Sky Garden also provides a space for research opportunities into sustainable food production. Interested? You can learn more about organic gardening, winter gardening, composting, and seed saving through Sky Garden’s workshops and tours. If you would like to volunteer with Sky Garden, please contact U of T’s Urban Agriculture Society.
• U of T’s Sustainable Engineer’s Association. Think sustainable development events, projects and conferences. Not meant for Engineering students only, by the way! If you are interested in their projects and in sustainability in general, you’re welcome to join.
In light of the fact that there is just so much (so much!) good stuff happening on campus when it comes to creating a green culture, where does that leave the Sustainability Office?
Here’s the deal – many of these efforts are being carried out independent of each other. The Sustainability Office would like to connect the dots. This September marks the first year of It’s Greener in Here, a brand new campaign which is all about harnessing social media and people power in order to unite various green initiatives. The end goal? One big U of T green culture. Think being part of a campus that is completely sustainable, so much so that caring for the environment is simply the way things roll.
Sounds great to me! The details of the campaign are still being fleshed out. Keep a lookout for It’s Greener in Here, complete with a mascot, at this year’s upcoming Orientation Week. Better yet, are you interested in participating in the campaign? If you like the idea of contributing your fantasticly green ideas and insights (a.k.a go where no one has gone before), you are in luck: the Sustainability Office would love to hear from you. Check out U of T’s career website for volunteer and work-study positions!
Here’s to an ever-greener U of T 😀