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SFU counters climate change with new “living” sustainability plan

March 04, 2020
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Simon Fraser University has committed to a five-year sustainability plan that will mobilize the entire institution to address the climate crisis.

Aligning with the United Nations objective of net-zero GHG emissions by 2050, the sustainability plan includes 16 targets to reduce the university’s carbon footprint, including a shift to renewable energy sources, more aggressive energy conservation measures, and support for electrification of commuting and fleet vehicles. SFU is committed to slash its greenhouse gas (GH) emissions by half, and to shift half of its energy use to renewable sources by 2025.

“As Canada’s engaged university, SFU is determined to remain a leader in sustainability by developing solutions and modelling best practices,” says SFU President Andrew Petter.

 “SFU’s new sustainability plan commits us to this work in a way that is tangible and accountable. In addition to measurable targets, the plan includes a robust implementation and reporting framework.”

The plan’s key targets and strategies include:

  • Increase the amount of plant-based menu items by 50 per cent;
  • Reduce the carbon footprint of the University’s investment portfolio by 45 per cent;
  • Certify 50 per cent of research and teaching labs as Sustainable Spaces;
  • Transition 40 per cent of the university’s vehicle fleet to electric vehicles (EV);
  • Create 366 new EV charging stalls;
  • Reduce single use plastics & products and shift to reusable alternatives.
Todd Gattinger, SFU's director, maintenance and operations and Candace Le Roy, director of SFU's Sustainability Office at one of the electric vehicle charging stations on campus.

SFU’s Sustainability Office will oversee implementation of the plan in conjunction with a university-wide advisory group and working groups comprised of members of SFU’s community. Conceived as a living document, the plan’s working groups will regularly revise and strengthen the document based on continuing consultation with the community.

The plan also outlines university-wide support for applied research innovations for climate change mitigation, which mobilizes the SFU community to develop and test climate change solutions. Opportunities to foster climate action leadership across the institution include the creation of a climate community of practice with over 100 students, staff, and faculty.

“As a leader in energy conservation since the 1980s, we are continuing to make energy conservation and decarbonization a priority. As we move towards an impending climate shift, we need everyone at every level, along with our community partners, to work towards solutions,” says Candace Le Roy, director of SFU’s Sustainability Office.

“Institutions like SFU have the power to model the shifts we need to make to stop further climate warming. We can develop research-driven climate solutions and we can share these solutions and knowledge with both local and global communities. By engaging our students in solutions development, we empower the next generation of leaders to protect the planet,” says Le Roy.

The Corix Biomass Plant on Burnaby Mountain, which is slated to start providing heat this fall, will cut the university’s Burnaby campus greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent. The plant will turn clean local wood waste, such as wood chips, shavings and construction wood waste, into low-carbon thermal energy. The plant will support Metro Vancouver’s clean wood recycling policy by re-using wood waste banned from Metro Vancouver landfills. The project will also help the City of Burnaby to meet its municipal GH targets.

To read the full plan and for more information on sustainability at SFU visit http://www.pcjvmv.cn/sustainability/about/publications.html.

Hear more about the plan from President Petter.

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