Humber arboretum wins Ontario EcoCentres platinum

Centre for Urban Ecology has been nationally recognized for its ecofriendly initiatives.  PHOTO BY SAMINA ESHA Centre for Urban Ecology has been nationally recognized for its ecofriendly initiatives. PHOTO BY SAMINA ESHA

Humber’s facility is first in Ontario to receive new program’s award for sustainable development

Centre for Urban Ecology has been nationally recognized for its ecofriendly initiatives. PHOTO COURTESY OF ROBERT HELLIER

Samina Esha
Senior Reporter

The Centre for Urban Ecology at Humber Arboretum has been recognized as the first and only such facility in Ontario to win a Platinum Certification award from the new provincial EcoCentres initiative.

The Ontario EcoCentre program celebrates education centres across the province to encourage achievement in a range of environmental markers.

“The program itself consists of 10 elements which are used as a checklist,” said Darryl Gray, manager of education for Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. Elements like energy, waste reduction, environmental quality, social acuity and carbon footprint are chosen, said Gray, because they will help set standards for other centres to follow.

The Arboretum – founded in 1977 by the City of Toronto, Humber College and the Conservation Authority – continues to push the boundaries of sustainable development.

“It was really exciting to be validated for something we were already doing as a part of our daily practices,” said Melanie Sifton, director of the Arboretum and Centre for Urban Ecology.

“In a year, the building only outputs the carbon footprint of an average person while being used by thousands of people daily.”

The centre is also a waste-free facility that recycles everything, said Sifton. In the future, she said, the centre will continue to push the boundaries of sustainable development.

“We have a sustainable sites initiative coming up in June,” said Sifton. The centre is one of three locations in Canada taking part in the worldwide testing for landscape facility.

“We are hoping to certify at least seven acres of land around the Arboretum as a sustainable landscape. We have to keep up, and we walk the walk.”

Sifton said this achievement would not be possible without the help of the students.

Graeme Mckenzie, 27, a third-year sustainable energy and building technology student, became involved in the project while working at the Arboretum.

“I think the award brought the awareness among students that it’s there,” said Mckenzie.

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