NC is on the podium when it comes to sustainable colleges and universities, having received a bronze rating according to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
NC earned the rating through AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.
“Incorporating environmental sustainability into our operations is a key priority for Niagara College,” said Niagara College president Dan Patterson.
“Participating in the STARS program allowed us to measure areas where we’re making significant progress in that regard, and identify opportunities to set new sustainability targets and goals.”
The STARS program allows post-secondary institutions to measure sustainability in three areas: education and research; operations; and planning, administration and engagement. The program is open to all institutions of higher learning globally, and the criteria are transparent and accessible to all. Because STARS is based on a system of earned credits, it allows for internal comparison as well as comparison with similar institutions. NC’s STARS submission is available online at https://stars.aashe.org/institutions/niagara-college-of-applied-arts-and-technology-on/report/2013-10-03/. The rating is valid for three years, although institutions can re-submit their assessments annually.
“Our first STARS assessment has helped us set important benchmarks, and the framework will guide our ongoing sustainability initiatives,” said Taryn Wilkinson, NC’s sustainability coordinator. “We look forward to building on our bronze rating in our next STARS assessment.”
“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE executive director Wendy Scott. “Niagara College has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS bronze rating and is to be congratulated for its efforts.”
Niagara College offers comprehensive programs in environmental education and renewable technologies, and has also identified the ongoing incorporation of sustainable practices and technologies as a key priority in its 2013-2016 Strategic Plan, which can be viewed online at www.niagaracollege.ca/strategicplan.
Through its sustainability committee, NC has set five sustainability targets, including 10 percent reductions in electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions; a five percent reduction in water consumption; cutting paper consumption in half and achieving 65 percent diversion in waste. Naturalization projects have been undertaken at both main campuses, and the college has incorporated renewable technologies into its operations, including geothermal, wind and solar energy systems. Niagara College also became the first Canadian post-secondary institution to have a Carbonzero Certified building when its Wine Visitor + Education Centre attained this accreditation in January 2013.
About AASHE: AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. AASHE’s mission is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation. It provides resources, professional development and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything they do, from governance and operations to education and research. For more information about AASHE, visit www.aashe.org.