University of Waterloo

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Reduction commitment: Observing Organization in Milestone 2

Business Type: School/University

In just half a century, the University of Waterloo (UW), located at the heart of Canada’s technology hub, has become a leading comprehensive university with 36,000 full- and part-time students in undergraduate and graduate programs. And has been consistently ranked Canada’s most innovative university, Waterloo is home to advanced research and teaching in science and engineering, health, environment, arts and social sciences.

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Notable GHG Reduction and Sustainability Projects:


Lighting Audit:  A campus wide lighting audit was conducted in order to identify the best areas to implement changes. As a result, a lighting retrofitting project was conducted and reduced energy use by 1 megawatt.

Waste Signage: Research was conducted on campus to identify why people would not recycle, and inconsistent signage proved to be a factor. As a result, signage was simplifies and placed in key areas.


2015 Carbon Cleanse: The University of Waterloo was an enthusiastic and active participant in the 30-day carbon cleanse challenge, engaging employees with activities based on heating, electricity, waste and commuting.

Lighting Retrofit: Upgraded T12 light bulbs to high-efficiency T8 bulbs for over 300 light fixtures. This created annual savings of 61,000 KwH with an approximate 2.5 year payback.

Building Lighting Upgrade: Upgrade T8 & T12 fixtures to LED fixtures and bulbs, saving 401,000 KwH/yr with approximately an 8.5 year payback.

Waste: Collection of organic wastes from select offices and purchased a second composting unit. Cost of $10 000 for a digester and an additional $10 000 for the composting unit.


Hired a Sustainability Coordinator: This position was created to support all campus groups who are implementing sustainability programs and policies. As well as provide administrative support to the creation of a Sustainability Advisory Committee.


Changed pump control method at CSB

Replace heating system converters at Village 1 residence

Hired an Energy Manager: The Energy Manager is responsible for supporting further energy projects going forward.


District energy plant heat recovery system

Water use reduction strategies widely implemented

 Reuse of construction materials from renovation projects

 All new development lands at main campus are storm water management self sufficient

 Newest subdivision is designed for central parking facilities rather than building-by-building

 All fall leaves are composted on site rather than landfilled

 E-waste diversion

 Naturalization of Laurel Creek Corridor

 Replaced Servers with higher efficiency units


Sustainability Culture:

Due to the size and diversity of the University of Waterloo an organization-wide group has not yet been formalized. UW is currently working on putting together a campus-wide advisory committee that will include faculty, staff, students, and the administration. However, there are several formal, and informal, sustainability committees across campus. These include (but not limited to): The Food Advisory Committee, Green IT Advisory Committee and FEDS Sustainability Advisory Committee.


Until a formal Green Team is established sustainability has been led by the various departments on campus, each attempting to integrate into their own operations. This support from a number of different areas is encouraging, and these groups have accomplished a substantial number of projects and initiatives. This approach to sustainability has, unfortunately, lacked formal coordination and goals. It will be essential to harness the collective energy, passion, and existing accomplishments when designing future sustainability goals and strategies moving forward.




Waste: UW collects six waste streams. Their custodial team handles garbage, recycling, and cardboard, while the Central Stores team handles all paper and e-waste recycling. Food Services also have organics collection for all kitchens as part of a Region of Waterloo green bin pilot, and some residences have this program as well. All paper towels on campus are from recycled material, much of which comes from UW own recycled paper! In addition, they have a very successful e-waste program that repurposes used computer equipment and sells it as part of a bi-monthly surplus sale. Any remaining or broken electronics are sent to a government-approved local recycling company.

Procurement: The Green IT Advisory Group has a list of guidelines for purchasing energystar or other efficient web resources. Additionally the Procurement and Contract Services team has also made a policy to consider environmentally superior choices and, when appropriate, will factor a certain percentage of costs towards environmental goods and services.

Building Materials and Design: Although UW does not seek certification, there is an informal understanding that all new buildings will be constructed to meet LEED Silver standards.

Commuting: UW is a TravelWise member and is ideally situated on the emerging rapid-transit corridor. Where applicable, staff are allowed to work from home. Since launching the U-Pass, there has been a stabilization of demand on parking facilities even though student enrollment and employee headcount have increased.



“Smart About Salt” Certified (2012-2014)

SharcNet Energy Conservation Project: Highlighted as a case study by Waterloo North Hydro.


University of Waterloo


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