Recognized as one of Waterloo Area's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 23, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Wilfrid Laurier University was selected as one of Waterloo Area's Top Employers (2019):
- Wilfrid Laurier University employees enjoy subsidized memberships to the university's fitness facilities that feature everything from an Olympic-sized swimming pool to instructor-led fitness classes to a complete range of fitness equipment and a rock climbing wall
- Wilfrid Laurier University employees can ease into their retirement years with phased-in retirement work options and can also keep in touch through social and educational opportunities organized by an active retirees' association -- and retired employees also continue to receive access to the university's athletic facilities and libraries
- In keeping with its raison d'être, Wilfrid Laurier University provides employees with full tuition subsidies for courses both related and not directly related to their current position -- and also manages an academic scholarship program for children of employees
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 14, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Wilfrid Laurier University was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2019):
- Wilfrid Laurier University supports a unique Sustainable Hawk Fund which dedicates up to $30,000 annually towards student-led sustainability projects -- the program features not only funding but expert supervision for selected projects -- past winners include a new bottle refill station (in response to student demand) and a more inclusive waste management system to ensure that waste disposal units across campus are accessible to individuals with visual impairments and other disabilities
- Wilfrid Laurier University partners with Young City Growers (YCG) Urban Micro Garden, Patchwork Community Gardens, and KW Urban Harvesters for the development of community gardens on the university's Northdale campus -- the university also has two rooftop honeybee apiaries
- Wilfrid Laurier University offers a Certificate in Sustainability for faculty and employees who participate in the university's lunch and learn workshop series -- the unique awareness program includes eight workshops throughout the calendar year that cover a range of sustainability issues, from alternative transportation to energy conservation to purchasing and procurement to recycling and reuse
Wilfrid Laurier University is green in every corner
If Wilfrid Laurier University ever wants to rename itself, it might call itself Sustainability U.
The Waterloo, Ont.-based institution has a large focus on the environment, from the research its academics undertake to the wide range of sustainability initiatives it runs at its five campuses and locations.
"We have a vision to stretch, to be aggressive in our sustainability goals," says Ulrike Gross, Associate Vice-President, Facilities and Assets Management. "Recently we set a target of being net zero in our emissions by 2050. We are absolutely committed to engaging our entire community, whether it's students, faculty or staff, in sustainability-related initiatives. And we're putting our money where our mouth is in terms of investment."
That money includes $50 million for the multi-year Laurier Energy Efficiency Project, a major undertaking that includes solar panels, storage batteries, more efficient mechanical systems and a micro-grid. "There is new and leading-edge technology involved, as well as some tried-and-true energy conservation measures," says Gross.
She notes that the appointments of Deborah MacLatchy, an ecotoxicologist, as President and Vice-Chancellor in 2017 and Robert Gordon, a distinguished researcher in the area of environment, as Provost and Vice-President: Academic in 2018 have meant there is an especially strong commitment to sustainability at the top of the institution.
Laurier is also a leader in environmental research, with high-impact projects at the local, national and international level. Gross says faculty environmental researchers are "a tremendous resource," whether working to address climate change in remote areas of the North or being consulted on campus sustainability initiatives.
And there are plenty of initiatives. The university is currently working on a Carbon Reduction Roadmap which will be instrumental in helping it achieve its long-term targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Laurier also recently completed a five-year sustainability action plan.
Stephanie MacPhee, Manager of the university's Sustainability Office, says the campus diverts approximately 60 per cent of its waste from landfills to recycling or compost, reaching the provincial target. "In the past year or so, we have been focusing more on waste reduction," she says. "We have been encouraging people to use travel mugs more, and we have an eco-container program where people can pick up a reusable container at any of our food vendors across campus. We're doing a lot more promotion about a zero-waste lifestyle." The sale of water in plastic bottles is banned on campus, and Food Services offers a 40-cent discount on hot beverages for travel mug users.
Staff are encouraged to get involved as well through programs such as the Staff Sustainability Certificate, a series of workshops on such topics as living a zero-waste lifestyle, bike repair, eating more sustainably and sustainable procurement. "There are a wide variety of subjects that help staff learn how to implement sustainability at work and at home," she says.
Staff have also been recruited as sustainability champions on campus, and now a Green Office pilot program is supporting them in implementing measures with co-workers in their offices. "It has been really popular," says MacPhee. Offices can earn points, which are posted online, through such measures as turning down the thermostat or using sustainable transportation.
The university also runs a Move Out program to collect the vast amounts of furniture, clothing and other items left behind by students, usually curbside, when they depart at the end of the academic year. The used items are given to students free or for a donation at move-in time, with the proceeds supporting a scholarship for a student studying sustainability. "It's perfectly good stuff," notes Gross. "It's a great thing to be able to have people reuse these items."
MacPhee, an environmental engineer with a master's in engineering from Western University, says working in her field at Laurier has been exciting. "I love working for a progressive institution that wants to set these ambitious goals and has a leadership that wants to invest in achieving them," she says. "And it's a very collaborative environment here, with so many sustainability champions. It has been really great."