KPU Wins Environmental Leadership Award

The Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce celebrated KPU for its commitment to sustainability

The Langley Chamber of Commerce listed KPU’s hosting of the Langley Farmer’s market as one of the reasons why the school won the Green Award. (flickr/Kwantlen Polytechnic University)

In recognition of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s tireless effort to go green, the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce granted the university a Business Excellence Award in the category of environmental leadership.

KPU remains dedicated to environmentalism, exemplified by the fact that it was named one of Canada’s greenest employers by Mediacorp Canada Inc. in April. This dedication can be found in many aspects of the university, but perhaps most notably in its signing of the Talloires Declaration. According to the Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future, the Talloires Declaration is an official statement made by the head of a university that commits that university to sustainability in higher education.

The Talloires Declaration was signed by KPU President and Vice Chancellor Dr. Alan Davis in 2016. It includes a 10-point plan to incorporate progressive learning strategies about sustainability and environmental conservation into school courses.

Though KPU only signed the Declaration one year ago, the university has been making sustainable improvements for decades. Since 1994, KPU has expanded its campus space by more than 36 per cent, but has still managed to reduce electricity use by nine per cent and gas use by 14 per cent during that time. All new buildings on KPU campuses must meet the Leadership in Environmental Design Gold Standard on the LEED rating scale, while renovated buildings must at least meet the Silver Standard.

Several older buildings, however, still need upgrades to help increase energy efficiency.

“The main doors to the courtyard [on the Langley campus] have a visible gap that lets air through,” says Paul Richard, an instructor in KPU’s Environmental Protection Technology program. “Better doors would keep warm air in, but also send a message. … People would ask why new doors are installed. This is how education starts.”

With his background in resource management, bioresource engineering, and environmental technology, Richard is highly experienced in issues of sustainability. He believes that KPU can further improve as a leader in environmental efforts by instilling a sense of pride for the university and its goals in its students and faculty.

If they are proud of their institution, KPU community members are “more likely to join in on simple tasks [like] turning off lights, turning off computers, that sort of thing,” says Richard.

In addition to its sustainable practices, KPU also teaches students how to be environmentally conscious through its programs. The university currently offers 16 diplomas and degrees associated with environmental sustainability and protection, and a variety of community programs that promote green values.

In addition to the Kwantlen St. Market held in Richmond, KPU’s Langley campus hosts a local Farmer’s Market weekly throughout the growing season, promoting local production and consumption of produce. Similarly, KPU’s Sustainable Agriculture program runs a weekly vegetable-box program, further promoting local, sustainable eating.

To reduce vehicle emissions, KPU partners with two car sharing companies—electric Car2go and carpool.ca—and provides bus shuttle services between campuses for commuting students and faculty. The pilot bus program is made possible by a partnership between the university, the Kwantlen Student Association, and a private bus company.

Environmental leadership is also fostered and maintained by cooperative events like Green Wednesdays. Hosted at KPU Langley in conjunction with the non-profit organization Green Ideas Network, video screenings and speakers cover various issues on the topic of sustainability. Furthermore, KPU has shown additional commitment to the environment by having an Environmental Sustainability Committee, the members of which act as advisors for those making important decisions about the university.

“Ultimately, this should all be a first step,” says Richard. While he believes that the actions taken have been effective, there are still many areas left to tackle to help KPU continue to be an environmental frontrunner.

Nevertheless, receiving the award for environmental leadership from the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce speaks to KPU’s values and sets it on track to continue leading the community in green initiatives and sustainable growth.

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