Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 18, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Humber College was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2018):
- Humber College's evolving 5-year Sustainability Plan outlines the college's vision to be "sustainable in everything we do" -- towards that goal, the College has sought to develop formal programs to address all operational aspects, including paper reduction strategies, water and energy conservation, waste reduction and diversion, greenhouse gas emissions, transit and transportation, and organic and local food sourcing
- Humber College also reaches out to the surrounding community through the Humber Arboretum and Centre for Urban Ecology, offering a variety of environmental and outdoor education events for schools and community organizations
- Humber College's campus buildings showcase a number of unique green features including a 4-storey bio-wall that helps filter internal air, a green roof, PV panel solar array, rainwater collection, heat recovery systems, water bottle refilling stations (that even track the number of plastic bottles saved) and high-efficiency lighting systems -- the LEED Gold certified Athletics Centre even features self-powered treadmills for zero impact workouts
Humber College's green investments pay off
When Roma Malik sips a coffee at the Toronto Lakeshore campus of Humber College, it has a particularly satisfying taste. Earlier this year, the site on Lake Ontario received a Fair Trade Campus designation, the first for an Ontario college.
In part, the coveted designation recognizes that all of the coffee sold comes from producers who meet environmental standards, pay fair wages and provide safe working conditions. Says Malik, the college's Acting Sustainability Manager: "At Humber, I'm so happy to have choices that reflect my own values. I know that when I buy a coffee, it improves the life of someone I am never likely to meet."
For Malik, the Fair Trade moniker is yet another independent demonstration that Humber is fulfilling the college's five-year plan to be "sustainable in everything we do." Others are also paying tribute. Humber has made the list of Canada's Greenest Employers for three consecutive years and Smart Commute, a Greater Toronto Area program to reduce gridlock, has for two years in a row awarded Humber a gold certificate for "outstanding" success in convincing employees to commute to work in ways other than driving alone.
Reducing staff and student single-car commuting is the primary goal of Humber's upcoming Transportation Demand Management initiative. The college offers priority parking for car pools and subsidizes emergency rides home through the carpool program.
Two years ago, the Lakeshore campus installed a complimentary dual-charge electric-vehicle charging station that is also available to the public. This year, a new garage at Humber's North campus, near Toronto's Pearson international airport, will have 16 such spaces. The garage will also include a massive rooftop solar panel installation, producing enough power to make the college's new Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation an energy net-zero building.
That centre is being built to LEED platinum status, the top grade, joining other new LEED silver and gold structures at both campuses. Meanwhile, staff and students, for just $1 per hour, can rent a bicycle to use around campus or make the 60-minute journey between the two. To further encourage cycling, each campus has a bike fix-it station and designated bicycle parking.
As per Humber's sustainability plan, the college is making great progress in reducing consumption. Since the plan's launch four years ago, waste diversion has increased by 55 per cent. Humber has also achieved a 10-per-cent lower total energy use and a 40-per-cent decrease in water consumption, resulting in annual savings of $500,000. Progress is on track to reduce per-student water use by 50 per cent and lower greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent.
These cost reductions are a result of targeted investment - Humber spent $20 million to refurbish existing buildings to make them more energy efficient. "Investments of this nature require planning, prioritizing and commitment," says Rani Dhaliwal, Senior Vice-President, Planning and Corporate Services, and CFO, "because the results are rarely seen immediately."
Dhaliwal says the investment in sustainability initiatives was the right decision for Humber. "While we have to be financially sustainable as a publicly funded college, we believe it's important to be environmentally sustainable as well," she adds. "While these can be tough choices, our stakeholders and our leadership team are committed to meeting our sustainability-plan targets. After all, it's ultimately about preserving the community we all live in, not just about Humber."
Students and employees also support Humber's environmental commitment. For example, sustainability is now a component in more than 300 of the college's courses. "Our students understand the importance and value of protecting our environment," says Dhaliwal.
And, incidentally, Humber's dedication to sustainability has made it easier to attract new staff. Says Dhaliwal: "A new employee recently told us that one reason she wanted to join Humber is because of our sustainability success and future goals." She adds: "Our sustainability initiatives are doing well, but behaviour doesn't change overnight. The journey is just beginning."