Amid reports of a record level of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere this year, Humber’s associate director of maintenance and operations says the school has been working on a five-year plan in hopes of making the college even more environmentally friendly than it is now.
“We’ve been working on this for about a year, and sustainability is one of Humber’s main values,” Spencer Wood said. “Sustainability is really wide reaching.”
Humber’s three main sources of greenhouse gas emissions are: anything burned, such as natural gas to heat the buildings; any electricity used, because that electricity is generated somewhere and that causes emissions as well; and so-called ‘scope-3’s’, something that Wood says is harder to track.
“If Humber buys any airfare to fly people to conferences, deliveries to campus or any vehicles that we own, those are another layer of greenhouse gas emissions called scope-3’s,” he said.“One of the goals in the plan is to start tracking those.”
While that’s only one part of the plan scheduled to come to fruition in 2019, Humber’s sustainability manager Lindsay Walker says the plan has some ‘significant targets’.
“We’re planning to reduce energy and water usage by 40 per cent in the next five years.” Walker said, adding that these numbers are on a per-square-foot basis and that this is something they’d like to accomplish across all three of Humber’s campuses.
While this seems like a hefty goal in itself, consider that Humber College is reportedly home to some 80,000 full and part-time students. While two-thirds of them are learning on a part-time basis, Walker says such students must be accounted for.
“Those students come in, (they) use our energy. They count too,” Walker said. “When you add those up, the energy usage is pretty big.”
While Humber is introducing a plan for the future, present efforts are vigourous. When the sustainability department isn’t organizing events with environmentalist David Suzuki or having students stand beside recycling bins to show passers-by what is actually supposed to go in them, they’re working hard behind the scenes.
From installing energy saving lights in all residence rooms and the Humber Room to replacing the North campus chiller with a new unit that uses 60 per cent less energy than before, Humber has saved 20 per cent on energy and water since 2005.
News of Humber’s sustainability efforts makes second year film and television student Nicole Segal feel better about what’s going on at her school. Segal, who said she has always been environmentally conscious, said she’s noticed more effort on Humber’s part.
“The school has made recycling really easy and accessible,” Segal said, adding that she’ll bring her own mug or pay for a reusable container when possible. “I just think it’s a nice thing to be doing.”