Tread lightly, grow greener, invest sustainably. Cycle more, drive less. Make an impact by making less impact.
If only the complexities of environmental responsibility could be reduced to a simple act or aphorism. But this isn’t the 1970s, and Woodsy Owl’s cheery “give a hoot, don’t pollute” ditty doesn’t cut it against rising oceans, global deforestation and hurricanes so numerous there’s not enough alphabet to name them.
Recommitting to ask the tough environmental questions and follow through on some even tougher answers, Western geared up its sustainability efforts in 2020.
Ranked 26th (of 766 universities) in the 2020 Times Higher Education Impact rankings for sustainability practices and policies, Western also signed an international climate charter this year and committed to investing as much as 10 per cent of fund assets in sustainable investments.
Among the newest and most visible of these is the super-deluxe, solar-powered bike bar(n) beside Alumni Hall, part of an active-transportation spoke in a much larger wheel of sustainability plans and actions on campus.
It also goes hand-in-cycling-glove with a relaunch of the President’s Advisory Committee on the Environment and Sustainability – a group that will help guide the university’s environmental strategy, from research and teaching to operations and culture.
The (phosphate-free) laundry list of the year’s work could go on and on: cutting-edge environment and climate research, deep-energy retrofits to buildings, staff who champion the cause with innovative ideas, students who combined science and policy for climate change action, personal steps to a smaller carbon footprint.
Woodsy Owl would be pleased.
Buildings such as the LEED Platinum-Certified Amit Chakma Engineering Building are designed to have a small carbon footprint.