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By Karen Herland
Concordia’s participation in the City of Montreal’s Défi climat campaign, starting this weekend, is just one example of our institutional commitment to sustainability.
Much of this leadership developed through Sustainable Concordia, which spearheaded the Concordia Campus Sustainability Assessment in 2002. A second one was completed two years ago, and that assessment model has been adopted by 42 other institutions across North America. Several projects that have developed through Sustainable Concordia have won awards.
“Our students were the first in Quebec to take up the sustainability crusade and have been publicly recognized for their efforts by prominent individuals, governments and NGOs,” said President Michael Di Grappa. “Now their leadership has resulted in bringing students on board in other universities.”
The Concordians who spearheaded the Sustainability Action Fund last year got good news at their Generations Pact Gala on April 3. Line Beauchamp, Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, used the event to announce funding of $250,000 from the provincial government. Their efforts got them featured in The Gazette on April 14.
Their leadership is also spreading across the university. Over the last decade, we have led all six Quebec universities in energy efficiency. Our ongoing efforts to reduce our impact on the environment is evident in the LEED certification sought for the JMSB building construction. The building will also employ technology developed by our Solar Buildings Research Network under engineering professor Andreas Athienitis.
The Office of the Vice-President Services adopted an Environmental Policy under Environmental Health and Safety (Policy VRS-5 at secretariat.concordia.ca/policies). The policy commits Concordia to striving to be “at the forefront of environmental leadership.” Addressed to faculty, students, administrators and staff, it encourages wise energy use and conservation, the use of locally produced, recycled or sustainably harvested materials wherever possible. It also supports the creation of an Environmental Advisory Committee, set to hold its first meeting this May.
Meanwhile, all members of the Concordia community are encouraged to participate in the Défi climat. The month-long initiative enables Montrealers to measure the gestures they already make (like using cold water for laundry, reducing paper usage or buying locally produced foods) or are committed to taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Using a model of institutional participation like the one employed by Centraide, 80 employers in the city have already asked their employees to join the anticipated 100,000 participants willing to sign up at deficlimat.qc.ca. (Click “subscribe” and register with the Université Concordia team).
Mariam Masud, Sustainable Concordia Event Coordinator, said the goal is to have Concordians cut 100 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. During the four weeks of the campaign, organizers will supply Sustainable Concordia with the latest figures, which will be posted on their web site along with profiles of participating Concordians.
Masud said that this is the first such campaign developed in Canada. The city hopes to use it to determine what people are already doing and what they might need more encouragement to undertake.