College seeks to reduce energy use 40 per cent

Clare Jenkins
Environment Reporter

A tree fell in the forest and Humber heard it.

Lindsay Walker is Humber College’s sustainability manager, responsible for organizing programs and new initiatives around sustainability on campus, the latest of which is a five-year sustainability plan.

Over the next period, Humber plans to reduce energy and water use by 40 per cent, reduce the number of single-occupant vehicles driven to campus and improve transit systems.

Walker and her team have been working on the plan for the past year and, after a lot of work, it is now up on the school’s sustainability website.

“I think everybody’s going to be affected (by the plan). I think students will notice the fact that we’re going to be more on campus,” Walker said.

“You’re going to see sustainability as part of the campus life. We haven’t had a huge voice because we haven’t been around for very long. It’s going to be everyone at Humber and hopefully in a year or two, beyond Humber and our community,” she said.

Walker added Humber believes it should be sustainable in everything it does.

“I believe sustainability is a well-rounded perspective on life,” she said. “It means making sure that we can continue the way we are living comfortably…that means taking care of our environment so we have clean air, water and soil to grow food that’s local and healthy and keep our economy going. So, at Humber, being sustainable in everything we do.”

Walker said the plan’s goal is to make sustainability something students and faculty do on an everyday basis.

“Our goal is to work towards making it become something that we do, not just because we have to be doing it, but doing it all the time and that it’s part of everyday life at Humber,” she said.

Shannon MacAskill, 20, a first-year Early Childhood Education student said she was impressed to see how environmentally friendly and clean Humber is. “It is a very clean campus. You don’t see garbage everywhere,” she said.

First-year Event Planning student Nicole Hutchinson, 19, said she enjoys going for walks around Humber’s Arboretum.
“I love the Arb, especially when it’s warm. There’s such a great view from the top,” she said.

Humber’s Arboretum opened in 1977 and has since been home to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals. Humber plans to develop a tracking program for yard waste in the Arboretum, which should be implemented in the next three years.
Humber also plans to increase the number of courses that focus on sustainability.

“I think it’s a cool idea to talk about sustainability in class. The environment is so important and I’m sure every program could benefit from knowing a little more,” MacAskill said.

Graeme St. Clair, 20, a second-year Sustainable Energy and Building Technology student, believes sustainability is the ability to meet our current energy needs without compromising the resources for future generations.

“Personally, I think that learning about sustainability is crucial. Obviously the topic of sustainability is going to fit only in certain courses but it is important nonetheless. It’s important that people are aware of being sustainable because it will play a big part in the way we live in the coming years,” he said.

Sustainability has been one of Humber’s declared six values since 2008. In the past six years, Humber has already implemented many changes to make the institution more sustainable including changing signage on garbage and recycling bins to make it clear what goes where, implementing events and campaigns to promote how to recycle on campus and water filling stations.

St. Clair is optimistic about the changes at Humber and has even more ideas of how campus could improve.
“If we could see Humber add more renewable energy systems like solar panels to our buildings that would really make a difference. We could be able to offset some of the energy Humber uses with more solar panels,” he said.

Walker said anyone interested in learning more about the five-year plan, upcoming events or sustainability in general can go to the website or join the mailing list.