Ontario’s colleges are playing a leading role in Canada’s efforts to tackle climate change, says a newly released report.
The report ‘Moving to Net Zero: Colleges Leading the Way’, highlights the 24 colleges’ achievements in everything from leading-edge research that promotes energy efficiency to the development of programs that prepare increasing numbers of graduates for careers in areas such as renewable energy and sustainable building construction.
“Doing our part to improve the health of the planet is a priority at Niagara College,” said president Dan Patterson. “We are firmly committed to the global effort to fight climate change.”
The report documents achievements in five areas: research, community leadership, college programs, transportation and campus upgrades. The examples in the report confirm that all 24 colleges are playing an active part in the effort to reduce the province’s carbon footprint.
Niagara College recently attained its Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) silver star. Some notable accomplishments that led to this rating, said NC’s sustainability advisor Taryn Wilkinson are:
- Completing an inventory of over 2,500 NC academic courses to ensure that almost 10 per cent of courses offered are connected to sustainability;
- The installation of two aquaponic systems in the NC greenhouse contributing to the food network being developed on campus;
- Community partnerships included the General Motors Global Rivers Environmental Education Network, and with the Walker Environmental Group;
- Utilizing the campus as a living laboratory for student learning and applied research; and,
- Ensuring over 30 per cent of the programs and faculty involved in research include sustainability.
In addition, NC was recently presented the 2016 Most Engaged Member award from the Niagara Sustainability Initiative.
The findings in the ‘Leading the Way’ report include:
- Throughout the province, colleges offer more than 300 programs that prepare graduates to work in sectors that directly impact emissions reductions, conservation and renewable energy.
- In 2015-16, more than 20,000 students were enrolled in programs that prepare them for careers that address climate change. That represents an increase of more than 20 per cent over the past five years.
- Millions of dollars have been invested in retrofit programs and other upgrades at campuses across the province. The retrofitting projects have included weatherization initiatives, energy and greenhouse gas audits, the installation of wind turbines and solar panels, and the integration of new designs that include green roofs and pollinator gardens.
“While we’re proud of our successes, we also know there is more to do,” said Wilkinson. “We will continue to work to reduce emissions and to produce the workforce that Ontario needs to make the transition to a net-zero economy.
“Having the College sector pull together on green initiatives demonstrates how we can make significant contributions to the greening of the province,” she added.
Media Relations, Niagara College,
905-641-2252 x 4330