For a university that prides itself on its sustainability credentials, the April 20 announcement naming UBC one of Canada’s Greenest Employers is welcome, although perhaps not surprising, news.
“Almost everyone I meet at UBC is not just committed to sustainability but is invested in doing things better,” says Jen Crothers, the Projects Manager with the UBC Sustainability Initiative. “ It’s great to be recognised for our collective efforts.”
The announcement, carried in the Globe and Mail newspaper, recognized UBC as well as organizations such as IKEA Canada, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Perkins+Will Architects and Hewlett-Packard Canada for their efforts to ensure a green workplace.
UBC’s many sustainability oriented initiatives include the Sustainability Coordinators Program, Sustainability in Rez, the “100-mile dinners” program, and, more broadly, UBC’s commitment to aggressive greenhouse gas emission reductions and the continued development of new facilities that meet or exceed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification.
There are literally hundreds of ways employees can go green at UBC. The Sustainability Coordinators Program provides staff with the support, awareness, skills and tools needed to champion sustainability in their departments. Over 150 Sustainability Coordinators inspire their colleagues to make changes in energy use, food conservation, waste management and recycling, and in choosing sustainable office supplies.
UBC is a hub for green innovation and research excellence, with students, staff and faculty involved in turning the campus into a living laboratory for sustainability. The Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability, a showcase for green construction with minimal impact on the environment, opened in late 2011 and is currently targeting LEED Platinum certification. It is interesting to note, Perkins+Will Architects, leading green architects and collaborators on CIRS were also named Greenest Employers. One of the areas of research at CIRS investigates how a green building might impact the health, happiness and productivity of the people who work within it. CIRS in featured in the “The building that’s beyond green” in the April 20th Report on Green Solutions found in the Globe and Mail.
UBC employees have long embraced sustainability. In 1997, UBC was the first university in Canada to adopt a sustainability development policy opening a campus sustainability office the next year. In 2010, UBC established the UBC Sustainability Initiative integrating UBC’s academic and operational efforts on sustainability.
Candidates for Canada’s Greenest Employers were judged by Mediacorp editors on four criteria: the unique initiatives and programs; how successful candidates are in reducing their own environmental footprint; the degree employees are involved, and the extent that initiatives have become linked to their public identity and whether they attract new people.
UBC has also been named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for the fifth year and one of BC’s Top Employers for the sixth.