Western’s Strategy for Creating a Sustainable Western Experience

Western University’s President’s Advisory Committee on Environment and Sustainability (PACES) recently unveiled its strategy Creating a Sustainable Western Experience.

The strategy, in the making since summer 2011, imagines Western in 2022, outlining 10-year goals and 5-year desired outcomes for sustainability. It was approved by the Board of Governors in early February and, thus far, is the university’s most clear proposal on sustainability. The full report is now available online at sustainability.uwo.ca.

The goal now, according to Beverley Ayeni, the Energy and Environment Manager at Western Facilities Management, is to engage students, faculty and staff in the implementation of campus-wide action. By getting the Western community involved, the university can work as a collective toward the realization of these long-term goals.

Previous to these sustainability measures, there was no real team directing the focus for sustainability at Western.

“Many one-off programs existed, but we want to bring them under an umbrella. We imagine something more holistic in nature,” Ayeni explains.

The 10-year vision requires Western to look at its energy and water uses. Through an audit of every single building on campus, Western is able to gain an understanding of both direct and indirect energy uses. They are then able to implement strategies for a reduction in harmful emissions.

The strategy proposed by PACES is flexible, describing the desired outcomes, but not necessarily providing strict answers to “how”. The long-term success of the project is therefore dependent on participation and input from the larger Western community.

There are measures being undertaken already to ensure the wider Western community becomes involved in increasing sustainability at the university.

Western’s Sustainability Team, of which Ayeni is a member, is trying to increase awareness on campus as well as in the community. They do so by providing information and games at community events and trade shows. For example, they have a game on better recycling where participants compete with one another, racing the clock to figure out what items are recyclable and under what category they go in. The goal is to increase awareness, create excitement and also encourage ownership in the individual participants.

Western hopes to be a leader in sustainability, not only in the day-to-day practices of the Western community, but also through innovative research and teaching. This is supported by high-profile leaders of the President’s Advisory Committee, who are committed to sustainability in all aspects of the Western experience.

For more information on Western’s sustainability measures visit: sustainability.uwo.ca.

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