Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 28, No.9

January 29, 2004


Sustainability assessment published

Members of the Sustainable Concordia Project, whose objective is to make Concordia University more ecologically, economically and socially sustainable, will launch their report Feb. 3 with a presentation in the J.W. McConnell atrium.

The project started in the summer of 2002 under the leadership of Geneva Guérin, an award-winning student activist who graduated last spring and left the project in good hands.

It was a key part of Guérin’s strategy to assemble an advisory committee of campus stakeholders, including faculty members from a variety of disciplines with an interest in the environment.

The committee brought together a number of teachers who hadn’t previously worked together, from departments as diverse as Geography and Design Art. With enthusiasm, they brought some of their students into the audit project through fieldwork, assignments and a new geography course, called Geog 398, University Sustainability.

The students who conducted the audit were especially pleased by the co-operation they got from university staff in terms of information and financial aid. Sue Magor, director of Environmental Health and Safety, has been their prime mentor over the past year and a half.

They were given $25,000 by Vice-Rector Services Michael Di Grappa to pfor the first year of the project. Since then, more contributions have been promised, and the group has more than half its $15,000 budget.

This launch will celebrate the students’ short-term goal, which was to produce a campus sustainability assessment, i.e. “a detailed and holistic picture of the university community, and its ecological, economic, and social impacts.”

The assessment, which has been published as a book, includes recommendations on how to improve the campus’s sustainability.

The long-term goals of the project include development of implementation strategies to carry out the recommendations, and follow-up assessments every two years. More than 100 students across academic disciplines and levels of study were involved in the audit, through the Sustainable Concordia QPIRG (Quebec Public Interest Research Group).

The most common definition of sustainability can be found in the Brundtland Report, “Our Common Future,” with its reference to sustainable development as “meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This broad definition recognizes a link among ecological, economic and social spheres.

The Sustainable Concordia Project is a pilot for the Campus Sustainabi-lity Assessment Frame-work (CSAF), formulated by Lindsay Cole of Royal Roads University in Victoria, B.C., as part of her master’s thesis.

The framework comprises more than 170 indicators used to gauge a university’s sustainability in various areas. Obtaining information for the indicators ranges from being relatively straightforward to challenging.

Another student in the U.S. wrote a master’s thesis on the growing number of university audit projects, and named Concordia’s second among 1,200 across the continent.

Sample recommendations:

• More attention needs to be paid to students in transition from a non-Western academic tradition to a Western academic environment.

• Revised distribution of the Recreation and Athletics Department budget, with more funds allocated to Campus Recreation.

• Formulate a building policy to ensure universal barrier-free design for all new Concordia buildings.

• The Board of Governors should better publicize open community-at-large seats and engage campus community members in consultations for the selection process. There should be set qualification standards and nomination procedures for new members of the Board.

• The Recycling Committee should be fully reactivated.

• The university should undertake to work with student groups to co-ordinate a provincial lobby to eliminate the “with parental contribution” loan category in the Quebec loans and bursaries program.

• Install a geothermal energy system at the Loyola Athletics Complex.

• Have shuttle buses run on biodiesel fuel.