George Brown College Best in Class at Sustainability

George Brown pic_Green Team mascotFrom nine locations in downtown Toronto, George Brown College offers a range of college and university programs to equip more than 24,000 full-time students and 61,000 Continuing Education students with the skills needed for success in today’s workplace. And when it comes to success in environmental sustainability, George Brown definitely gets high marks.

George Brown’s sustainability initiatives are guided by the school’s Green Team, a dedicated committee that works together to reduce the school’s ecological footprint through sustainable practices. It includes members from all departments, as well as representatives from George Brown’s leadership.

In 2008, George Brown College released its first Green Plan I (2008-13), a long-term strategy to increase efficiency, reduce waste and conserve resources, which included environmental objectives and measurable outcomes for reducing the College’s environmental impacts over a five year period.  It set targets in a number of areas including facilities and operations, green purchasing, policies and practices. It also set goals to encourage greening of the school’s academics and the curriculum areas.

In 2013, a revised Green Plan II includes new targets for reducing the College’s environmental impacts over the next five years.

With Green Team support, the college is working towards embedding environmental consciousness into its culture and implementing environmental best practices across operations and facilities.

The most notable initiative is George Brown’s award-winning “green” Waterfront Campus. Opened in September 2012, the 330,000 square foot campus is a model for the college’s future. More than 90 percent of the construction waste associated with the Waterfront project was diverted from landfill, and regionally sourced materials with recycled content were used to build the new structure. The campus includes eco-friendly elements such as a green roof, special glass to minimize bird collisions, storage for more than 300 bicycles, 16 carpooling spots and 10 charging stations for electric cars. Inside, the building features promote the kind of healthy environment that is proven to increase learning and staff productivity.

In terms of addressing climate change, the college has successfully reduced its carbon footprint by 20% compared to 2006 levels in spite of adding approximately 100,000 square feet of building space (excluding the Waterfront Campus) and increasing occupancy as the student population has grown.

Green Team members have launched numerous successful environmental initiatives in support of George Brown’s Green Plan. Some examples include:

  • The Go Green campaign, which features monthly themes for how students and employees can reduce their ecological footprint (i.e. turning off classroom lights, using reusable water bottles/coffee cups, etc.)
  • Washroom renovations at the school’s two older campuses now have installed sensors on faucets and toilets to reduce water consumption.
  • 90 % of the cleaning products used by the college are certified environmentally friendly.
  • A custodial program eliminated late evening cleaning so that lights can be turned off at night.
  • A comprehensive recycling system at all of its campus locations is in place, which includes battery recycling through the Call2Recycle program. Staff and students can drop off their used household batteries and cellphones at Call2Recycle boxes in the college’s First Aid offices. George Brown tracks its monthly waste and recycling for a variety of products including scrap metal, used electronic equipment, printer toner cartridges, light bulbs, wood waste and saw dust. More than 60 % of the school’s waste was diverted from landfill in 2012—a reduction of 23 % person, far exceeding the school’s 15% per person target.

George Brown College has made good progress on many fronts to fulfill its Green Plan goals but there is still work to do.  The Green Plan II is the road map that the college will follow to continue on its journey to become an even more environmentally friendly educational institution and provide a brighter future for its students and the planet.

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