What is sustainability?
There are many ways to define sustainability, and the most commonly used one is recognized through the Bruntland Commission report, created by the United Nations (UN), Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future. Through this report, sustainability and sustainable development is recognized as, “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Sustainability is based on a simple principle: everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.
Sustainability is important to making sure that we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment.
Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
What is Niagara College doing to be sustainable?
By 2016, we hope to meet the five sustainability targets which include:
- Electricity Consumption 10% Reduction;
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions 10% Reduction;
- Waste Generation 65% Diversion;
- Rate Water consumption 5% Reduction;
- Paper Consumption 50% Reduction
Information about our plan, priorities and targets, reports and tracking (and much more) can be found on sustainability.niagaracollege.ca.
Green campus projects
We have already completed many on-campus “green” projects, and are working on more all the time. Here’s a small sampling of some of the more extensive projects that we’ve undertaken:
Habitat structures: Habitat structures to support birds and bee species living at the Welland Campus were constructed in Spring 2014. As part of the re-naturalization of campus, it’s extremely important to support wildlife that chooses to live here.
Carbon neutral building projects: Both the Wine Visitor + Education Center and the Rankin Technology Center are certified Carbonzero.
Outdoor classroom: A best kept secret of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus is the outdoor classroom, located at the lagoons facing the Escarpment. The classroom consists of flat limestone rocks, set in a semi-circular shape, with several rows.
Wind turbine: The vertical wind turbine located outside the Rankin Technology Centre powers a portion of the building. The wind turbine has a continuous out power of 4000W and can save up to 35,000 kWh per year.
Geothermal heat pumps: The Rankin Technology Building has a 265 kW vertical system with over 40 drops that go 400 feet into the ground, which save approximately 2,300 MWh annually. It uses the earth as a heat source in the winter and a heat sink in the summer.
Solar panels: 497 solar panels are located on the roof of the Voyageur Building. The 95W roof mounted PV system is capable of producing a maximum annual yield of 115 Mega Watts (MW) of power. The solar panels have been tied into the Ontario Power Grid as part of the Feed-in Tarriff (FIT) program. 100% of the financial gains through this program are put towards funding for other sustainability initiatives at Niagara College.
Campus hydration stations: In September 2012, Niagara College banned the sale of bottled water on campus. Want to know why? Hydration stations (water fountains) – many with chilled water – with taps to refill reusable plastic bottles are available throughout our campuses.
Welland Campus naturalization: Naturalization is an alternative landscape maintenance technique for maintaining our parks and open spaces. Natural processes of growth and change are less restricted, and the landscape is allowed to become more natural than ornamental.