Nearly two decades have passed since McGill adopted its first environmental policy.
Now, in 2020, environmental sustainability at McGill has advanced in strides and continues to be woven into the fabric of the institution, with both environmental and sustainable considerations now at the forefront of McGill’s strategic priorities.
In recognition of this work and progress in sustainability, McGill has once again been named as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers.
Canada’s Greenest Employer
Canada’s Greenest Employers is an editorial competition organized by Mediacorp Canada Inc., who also hosts the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project. The Greenest Employer designation recognizes organizations for having developed “exceptional sustainability initiatives” and whose environmental leadership is actively attracting people to their organizations.
In the thorough vetting process to establish the Greenest Employer list, each organization is evaluated on:
- the uniqueness of the organization’s environmental programs,
- the extent to which the organization has been successful in reducing their environmental footprint,
- the degree to which employees are involved in environmental programs, and
- whether environmental initiatives have become linked to the employer’s public identity.
For McGill, continued recognition through this list shines the spotlight on both the formal and informal sustainability initiatives that faculty, staff and students have been working towards building and embedding into the culture University. The 2020 listing marks McGill’s third consecutive year on the Greenest Employers list. The list has been running for 13 years.
McGill’s sustainable operations
From eliminating the sale of single-use plastic water bottles on campus to McGill’s sustainable vehicle procurement programs, which will see the phase out of combustion vehicles, environmental responsibility is becoming prevalent in the decision making of the University.
McGill increased its commitment to creating a sustainable future back in 2014 with the implementation of the Vision 2020 Sustainability Strategy, and again in 2017 with the adoption of its long-term targets: to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040 and to attain a Platinum sustainability rating by 2030. The pursuit of these targets will bolster sustainability performance and lower McGill’s greenhouse gas emissions well into the future. Now, in 2020, the University is in the process of drafting its next climate and sustainability strategy, which outlines specific actions for implementation over the course of 2020-2025.
“McGill has, and continues to, take action within its operations to become more sustainable in its daily activities both on and off campus,” said Francois Miller, Executive Director of the McGill Office of Sustainability. “Being selected as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers is both a celebration of the accomplishments that have been made, and a source of inspiration to continue forging forward on the path towards a more sustainable McGill. We are excited to be able to continue to implement initiatives and support projects that create a resounding impact at McGill and in our greater community.”
The next generation of sustainability leaders
To “Design and Create Sustainable Materials, Technologies, Landscapes, and Communities” is one of the University’s seven Research Excellence Themes. The commitment to sustainability within the University’s research and education can be see through the offerings of courses and programs, as well as through the McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative; a hub of expertise and excellence that takes a multi-disciplinary, multi-sector approach to sustainability. Approximately 83 per cent of departments have sustainability course offerings, with four sustainability-focused undergraduate degree programs, and ninety sustainability centered graduate degree programs.
Faculty, staff and students leading the way
Environmental progress and programs at McGill are driven by faculty members, staff, and students with an unwavering passion for sustainability. Members of the McGill community have the opportunity to engage with sustainability through more formal mechanisms, such as the Sustainable Workplace Certification Program, or through more informal channels such as the Staff or Student Sustainability Networks.
Staff, students, and faculty are all eligible to request support for their initiatives through the Sustainability Projects Fund. The SPF is mandated to build a culture of sustainability on McGill campuses through the development and seed-funding of interdisciplinary projects. As of 2019, 86% of the projects funded by the SPF are Student-Staff Collaborations.
“Being recognized as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers would not have been possible without all of the contributions made by the staff, faculty, and students of McGill,” said Professor Yves Beauchamp, Vice Principal, Administration and Finance. “It is the hard work of each individual that is being recognized by this designation. The commitment and enthusiasm of our McGill community with regards to sustainability initiatives is inspiring, and it is that dedication that will propel our collective vision for a more sustainable McGill forward into the future.”