At UBC, we embrace sustainability as a societal conversation about the kind of world we want to live in, informed by an understanding of the ecological, social and economic consequences of our individual and collective actions.

We build the case for sustainability because we believe it is necessary (the consequences of unsustainability are devastating), it is the right thing to do ethically and in terms of distributive justice, and it is desirable in itself, offering the possibility of a better life for people and the planet.

UBC’s strategic plan, Place and Promise, contains nine commitments with goals and actions designed to realize our vision for the future. Sustainability is one of the key commitments, recognizing that, in order to meet society’s needs without compromising those of future generations, the best efforts of the brightest minds are required.

Our goal is to commit, integrate, demonstrate and inspire.

Commit. Pioneering Approaches to Sustainability

UBC commits our entire community, including our land, assets and utilities, to sustainability research, teaching and learning.

UBC has set the most aggressive greenhouse gas emission reduction targets of any of the top 40 universities in the world. We aimed to and succeeded in reducing emissions on campus by 33% by 2015 (as measured against 2007 levels), and intend to further reduce emissions by 67% by 2020 and by 100% by 2050. To that end, our Board of Governors have committed $150 million to four signature projects: the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability, the Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility, continuous optimization and steam-to-hot water conversion.

Integrate. Reaching Across Boundaries

UBC embraces interdisciplinary approaches to sustainability that extend beyond traditional boundaries of disciplines, sectors and geographies. UBC offers over 480 courses and 30 programs on sustainability and has Memoranda of Understanding with local and global partners.

In 2010, President Toope established the UBC Sustainability Initiative, charged with deeply integrating academic and operational sustainability efforts. As an example of our progress, academics now sit on the University's key operational committees.

Demonstrate. UBC as a Living Laboratory

UBC transforms its entire campus into an experiment in sustainability by studying behaviours and making discoveries to advance sustainability scholarship inside and outside UBC, at scales comparable to a small municipality. The University is investing in living laboratory projects and sustainable development projects that are transforming UBC from a commuter campus to a complete community.

In response to the challenge of creating a more sustainable society, UBC opened the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) in 2011. CIRS is designed to be an internationally recognized research facility that accelerates the adoption of sustainable building technologies and sustainable urban development practices. UBC's Vancouver campus is also being transformed into a vibrant, sustainable community where student, faculty, staff and others live, work and learn. Since 1997, transit ridership to and from campus has increased by over 200% to 63,000 trips per day.

Inspire. A Platform for Change

UBC sets the stage for transformational dialogues and discoveries in sustainability by creating new opportunities for learning that inspire students, faculty, staff, alumni and partners beyond the campus gates. UBC partners commercialize innovation, bring to the public forum policy changes, and help with social license and community engagement issues.

Regardless of their degree programs, students can take a sustainability pathway providing access to an education in sustainability across disciplines. Students are equipped with the competency and capacity to contribute to the co-creation of a sustainable future during and beyond their studies. Working with partners, students can integrate their studies with internships and projects: locally as a Greenest City Scholar assisting the City of Vancouver, in China with UBC partner Modern Green, through the AMS Sustainability Projects Fund, or through the SEEDS Program.