Grassroots action at Guelph
Guelph Students for Environmental Change
Guelph students are key advocates and enthusiastic participants in campus sustainability efforts. Guelph Students for Environmental Change spearheads many initiatives, such as Wasteless Wednesdays (offering free, fair-trade organic coffee to students who bring a reusable mug); Sustainability Week activities; and TapIn!, a student-led campaign to secure commitments from departments and organizations across campus to no longer use bottled-water at meetings or events.
Greener on-campus living
Guelph participates in the Campus Residence Energy Reduction Challenge, which encourages students to conserve energy in their residence buildings.
The EcoHouse Living Learning Centre is a residence community for students who want to explore sustainable lifestyles and positive social change.
The Enviro Rep Program educates students living in residence about environmental issues. Student volunteers carry out various projects and serve as role models and a source of information for their peers.
The goal of this program, which began in 2008, is to help entire departments reduce their ecological impact. Three pilot departments — the Centre for International Programs, Computing & Communication Services, and Population Medicine — are leading the way. They are implementing a list of 17 individual and collective changes, from litter-less lunches and turning off computers to shifting at least two commuting trips to non-car transport and starting a department-specific sustainability initiative.
The FairAir Green Travel Program enables students, faculty and staff to offset their flight’s carbon emissions by investing in renewable energy sources.
The Zerofootprint Calculator is a lifestyle assessment tool that allows people to measure their ecological footprint and reduce their impact on the environment. U of G teamed up with the non-profit Zerofootprint agency in 2007 to develop the initiative, becoming the first post-secondary institution to engage its entire community in this way.
The web-based calculator allows people to estimate and analyze the impact of daily activities such as car travel and electricity use on the environment. The online tool not only calculates a person’s carbon footprint but determines their land, water and tree footprint, and provides advice on how to shrink it, including setting goals and tracking success online.
By 2009, 2,400 people at U of G were using the calculator — on average each individual emits 10.5 tonnes of carbon a year. Collectively, we have pledged to reduce our footprints by 1025 tonnes.
U of G was the winner in two City of Guelph-sponsored Commuter Challenge categories in 2008: most kilometres traveled sustainably and most emissions reduced.
For more information about this report or sustainability initiatives at the University of Guelph, please contact: