Laurier named among North America’s most “green” universities

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Graphic by Jaime Mere

In the Princeton Review’s recent addition, The Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges: 2019 Edition, Wilfrid Laurier University was named as one of the top green universities in North America.

The green guide includes 413 post-secondary institutions across North America which have been measured as the most sustainable of the 689 surveyed.

Of the 413 schools included on the list, only 13 were Canadian, making Laurier’s inclusion on the list especially impressive.

“We got the press release, it was pretty exciting, we worked with the communications office and then they sent it out, and there has been huge tractions on social media,” said Katarina Milicic, outreach and program coordinator at Laurier’s sustainability office.

“A lot of people have been talking about it. I think once you isolate how many Canadian universities got it, that stands out a little bit more.”

The Princeton Review used sustainability-related practices, policies and programs, as well as the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Laurier has previously received a gold level STARS rating, which is the second highest.

This is only the most recent recognition of Laurier’s continued commitment to sustainability, in addition to receiving the Region of Waterloo’s Water Excellence Award in 2018 and being named Ontario’s most sustainable campus in 2017, among many other accolades over the years.

“Of course we are always trying to strive to be better. We received in 2017 the number one green campus in Ontario, and so of course our next goal would be number one green campus across Canada,” Milicic said.

I think that we’re doing a good job right now… but we should be going further, we should be figuring how to engage students more, how do we get to the population that isn’t in environmental studies, how do we engage from business students to general arts students, where do we engage them and on what spectrum.

– Katarina Milicic, outreach and program coordinator at Laurier’s sustainability office

Laurier’s has its sustainability office and campus partners, such as food services, the grounds team and custodial staff, to thank for its highly sustainable status.

“I think a lot of it is our campus partners,” Milicic said. “Any sort of programming that we’re looking at running, it becomes very impossible to make sure it’s successful if it’s just coming from the sustainability office — it’s myself and my manager, so what’s really cool is that we have all of these groups that are committed to sustainability, and they really focus on, of course their day to day work, but when we want to look at including sustainability practices or new programming they’re all in and I would say that’s what makes Laurier stand out.”

This recognition is only fueling Laurier’s sustainability office to continue working towards a more social and environmentally sustainable campus.

“We still have to kind of push forward, you know we have so many programs on campus we have to go back and look at what we can do better, what are some of the challenges we face,” Milicic said.

Having a strong focus on sustainability in post-secondary institutions is essential to creating a more sustainable world in the future.

“When it comes to things such as sustainability, it’s so important to engage our post-secondary students because the next thing they’re doing is going into careers. And if we want to see change on levels with sustainability, with more innovative thinking, when it comes to some of the most pressing challenges including climate change, we want to be able engage our students from the get-go,” Milicic said.

“I think that we’re doing a good job right now… but we should be going further, we should be figuring how to engage students more, how do we get to the population that isn’t in environmental studies, how do we engage from business students to general arts students, where do we engage them and on what spectrum.”

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