[July 13, 2023] Conrad Grebel University College has set a 35% greenhouse gas reduction target by 2030, supported by Sustainable Waterloo Region’s Impact Network. This is Grebel’s first target as a Pledging Partner, matching the University of Waterloo’s GHG reduction goal. 

“Meeting this target requires a sustained commitment to update and invest in our buildings,” said President Marcus Shantz. “We owe it to our students to take responsibility for our carbon emissions.” 

Grebel’s target is an absolute GHG reduction target based on 2019 greenhouse gas emissions and includes two facilities and the optional Scope 3 emission of water usage. The College will also report on electricity and natural gas from their campus in Waterloo. Additionally, Grebel has recently incorporated other sustainability initiatives in operations such as creating a pollinator garden, installing more electric vehicle chargers, adding additional bike racks, and tracking business travel as a possible future addition to scope 3 goals. 

Inspired by student enthusiasm and concern, Grebel’s Operations Director Paul Penner leads a Green Team that has examined the details to make the 35% target achievable. “Climate change is a huge issue for students. We are all facing a major environmental disaster if carbon emissions aren’t addressed,” he said. “Students are ready to put the effort in, and so is Grebel.”  Even though Grebel is a small institution, the College has often been at the forefront of sustainability and environmental issues in the past, including recycling, composting, and energy recovery. 

“Sustainable Waterloo Region is helping us to make connections, ask the right questions, advise on next steps, and guide us in our data collection,” Penner added. “When setting our GHG reduction target, we wanted to set a goal that was realistic, motivating, and tangible. This goal is a signal to the rest of the world that we’re taking our responsibilities seriously and is a good way to start conversations, internally and externally.”

The Scope 3 water usage goal was chosen by Grebel because 1) it’s clearly measurable; 2) Waterloo’s water supply is not plentiful; 3) there’s an environmental impact in the creation and delivery of clean water; and 4) students can individually and collectively make a difference in meeting this goal.

This summer, co-op student Eva Booker is creating a pollinator garden at Grebel. As a former resident who participated in student-led climate advocacy at Grebel, she has also spent several summers working on local urban farms. “The pollinator garden will not only benefit many pollinating insects, but it will also have an effect on carbon sequestration,” said Booker. “The plants in this garden are native to Ontario’s tallgrass prairie ecosystem and can store significant amounts of carbon in their deep roots. These plants are also less resource-intensive than turf and more resilient to climate impacts, as they thrive in hot and dry conditions.” This project demonstrates Grebel’s eagerness to take steps towards more holistic and tangible forms of creation care. 

Sustainable Waterloo Region is pleased to see educational institutions practicing what they teach and acknowledging their programs’ impact on students and the environment. With retrofits top of mind for the facilities, we look forward to seeing what Grebel achieves and how to continue to support the College in meeting the reduction targets. 

“Setting a target to reduce their operating impact on the environment is a critical step for Conrad Grebel,” said Tova Davidson, Executive Director of SWR. “This commitment to long-term impact is so well aligned with the mission of the College, and we are so happy to be able to support them in this process of building a more just and sustainable future for all!”

Founded by the Mennonite church, Grebel is affiliated with the University of Waterloo and is home to 172 UWaterloo students each term. The College offers undergraduate courses in Music, History, Mennonite Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, Religious Studies, and Sociology, as well as graduate programs in Theological Studies and Master of Peace and Conflict Studies. Some of Grebel’s core values include community building, global engagement, and responsible citizenship. 

Contact: Fred W. Martin

Director of Advancement


About Sustainable Waterloo Region 

Sustainable Waterloo Region is a social enterprise non-profit that helps the local business community, and Waterloo Region as a whole, become more environmentally and economically sustainable, and therefore stronger.

Our Impact Network program facilitates setting voluntary reduction targets in greenhouse gas emissions, water, waste, and waste diversion and provides a customized approach to inspire action and support transformation in organizations of varying sizes and industries.

Contact:           Tova Davidson

Executive Director