NC recognized for environmental education

EECOM Award

Above, from left, Nadine Lafort, Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication director and co-chair of the awards committee; NC sustainability coordinator Taryn Wilkinson; NC sustainability engagement assistant Gina Pannunzio; and Al Unwin, Niagara College’s associate dean, Environmental and Horticultural Studies and the co-chair of Niagara College’s Sustainability Committee.

One of Canada’s leading environmental education networks has recognized Niagara College for its efforts to raise the profile and understanding of environmental issues.

The Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication (EECOM) selected Niagara College as the recipient of this year’s Outstanding Postsecondary Institution Award at its annual EECOM Awards of Excellence Ceremony in Ottawa Oct. 9.

The EECOM Awards recognize individuals and organizations who have collectively influenced Canadians, and helped implement one of EECOM’s key goals – to advance environmental learning.

“Niagara College’s enthusiasm for protecting and enhancing the environment was apparent through its operational efforts and student life,” said Nadine Lafort, an EECOM director and co-chair of the awards committee. “The variety of programs offered that focus on energy, waste, carbon, paper, water, biodiversity, student engagement and more highlight just how much sustainability has been integrated into all areas of the college.”

Niagara College was nominated for the award by the Niagara Sustainability Initiative (NSI)  – a local non-profit organization with a mandate to connect government, industry, community and academic sectors. Niagara College is a partner of NSI.

“Niagara College has demonstrated its commitment to environmental education and awareness for students, employees and visitors by actively implementing a variety of unique projects at Niagara College,” said Katrina Kroeze, NSI’s executive director.

“The cross-functional and cross-disciplinary relationships Niagara College has developed over the past few years provides endless creativity to drive sustainability in a number of ways including student life, operational efforts and campus culture. NSI took the opportunity to recognize the college for all of its efforts, as we feel they take a leadership role on a national scale as well as a regional one.”

“Niagara College delivers comprehensive programs in environmental studies, and has made incorporating sustainability into our operations a key strategic priority,” said Alan Unwin, Niagara College’s associate dean, Environmental and Horticultural Studies and the co-chair of Niagara College’s Sustainability Committee. “We continue to develop a broader understanding of environmental issues among our students, faculty, staff and our community as we pursue or sustainability goals. We’re very pleased that our ongoing efforts have earned this recognition.”

Niagara College has instituted several initiatives aimed at reducing its environmental impact, and raising awareness of environmental issues among students, staff and the community. In 2011, the College set five sustainability targets for the next five years: to cut paper consumption by half, achieve a 65 percent diversion rate for waste (achieved in 2012), achieve a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a five percent reduction in water use. The College has banned the sale of bottled water on campus, and incorporated several renewable-energy technologies into its operations, including geothermal heat and solar power. NC has also identified the ongoing incorporation of sustainable practices and technologies as a key priority in its 2013-2016 Strategic Plan, which can be viewed online at www.niagaracollege.ca/strategicplan. Two Niagara College buildings have earned Carbonzero Certification as carbon neutral buildings.

In November 2013, Niagara College earned a Bronze rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) through its Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

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