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Western named to Princeton Review’s green guide

By Jason Winders, Western News

For the second consecutive year, Western joined The University of British Columbia as one of only two Canadian universities profiled in The Princeton Review’s Guide to 332 Green Colleges: 2014 Edition.

In this fifth edition of the guide, The Princeton Review, in collaboration with the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council, profiled 332 schools in the United States, and two in Canada, that demonstrated notable commitments to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation. 

Western was mentioned for its commitment to a sustainability-dedicated employee, student devotion as well as the establishment of the President’s Advisory Committee on Environment and Sustainability (PACES). The publication also noted the institution’s commitment to embed “sustainability into every facet of daily life.”

“It is exciting we continuously find ourselves recognized for our sustainability efforts,” said Stefanie De Adder, Western sustainability coordinator.

Of Western, the guide wrote, in part:

One of the top Canadian academic institutions, Western University pledges a commitment to “embedding sustainability into every facet of daily life.” Its vow that “through active citizenship, teaching, and research, we will ensure the health of our planet and its people for the long term” makes it clear that it believes sustainability isn’t just a passing craze.

Signatories of both the Talloires Declaration and Ontario Universities Committed to a Greener World, Western has put valuable pieces in place, hiring an employee dedicated to sustainability initiatives on campus and implementing a President’s Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability.

Students contribute to the vibrancy of the sustainability movement, running EnviroWestern, an organization with a number of ongoing and new initiatives each year, earning environmental credits in natural, physical and social science departments, as well as humanities, engineering, and business, while participating in sustainable research.

Green infrastructure is commonplace at Western, with all major renovations within the last three years have involved energy-related retrofits, including improved insulation, efficient lighting and modernized building controls, an operational policy that all new building construction and major renovation projects will achieve a minimum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification, and all building upgrades will seek to include green features. What’s more, Western has installed electricity meters on all buildings, allowing for real-time monitoring of electricity, and is in the process of installing water and steam meters for all buildings as well.

As EnviroWestern students assert, “Small Steps, Big Impact.”

More than 2,000 North American schools, including more than 100 Canadian, responded to The Princeton Review survey. Institutions were required to achieve a score of 83 on a variety of sustainability criteria to be profiled.

“Among 10,116 college applicants who participated in our 2014 College Hopes & Worries Survey, 61 per cent said having information about a school’s commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend the school,” said Rob Franek, senior VP/publisher, The Princeton Review. “To all students seeking to study and live at ‘green’ colleges, we strongly recommend these schools.

Among the 332 colleges in this guide: 30 per cent of their total food expenditures goes toward purchases of local and/or organic food (Western stands at 31 per cent); 63 per cent of the schools, including Western, offer an undergraduate major or degree that is sustainability-focused ; and 73 per cent of the new construction on their campuses is LEED-certified, as Western has with its most recent constructions.

“Our efforts won’t end here,” De Adder continued. “We have just entered the second year of our 10-year vision and five-year action plan for sustainability, and we are making a lot of headway. We intend to continue furthering Western’s commitment to and reputation for sustainability initiatives.”

Visit sustainability.uwo.ca for more details on Western’s sustainability efforts.