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Western aspires to be a leading educational institution in sustainability and stewardship by embedding sustainable practices into its curriculum, operations, and research.

Waste reduction

Western has excelled in its waste reduction strategies. Last year, Western achieved a diversion rate of 50 per cent. This means that of all of the waste thrown away on campus, 50 per cent was diverted from landfill through either recycling or composting. Western's diversion rate is one of the highest in the country when compared to other higher education institutions. Westminster Hall's achievement of zero waste status is a testament to the commitment to reduce unnecessary waste on campus and acts as a model for the entire campus. Facilities Management estimates that of the existing waste on campus, 5 per cent are coffee cups, and a further 20 per cent are items that are recyclable. Opportunities are abound for Western to improve on its already impressive performance in waste management. For information on waste and recycling at Western, please visit the sustainability website

Hospitality services

Hospitality Services at Western includes 25 campus eateries, 7 residence dining halls, Great Hall Catering and the Green Leaf Café, and Conference Services. The four pillars of departmental sustainability initiatives for Hospitality Services are (1) Responsible Sourcing; (2) Sustainable Dining; (3) Education, Awareness & Collaboration; and (4) Waste Reduction & Diversion.

Responsible sourcing

35% Sustainable Purchases: Purchasing local is a high priority for Hospitality Services and partners who share our commitment to local are given significant weight in the RFP process.

Sustainable dining

To Western, “sustainable dining” means:

  • Providing food options that encourage students to celebrate food
  • Providing multi-cultural/ethnically diverse foods
  • Moving toward more plant-based options
  • Meeting the needs of students with special dietary needs (e.g. allergies and religious observances)
  • Providing more made-to-order and fewer processed food options

Waste reduction & diversion

  • Hospitality Services promotes Choose-2-Reuse Ecotainer Program to reduce waste.
  • Salvageable food in the Residence Operations, Campus Eateries, Great Hall Catering, and in the Green Leaf Café, is donated to the London Food Coalition by way of the Ark Aid Street Mission.
  • Western composts 328 tonnes annually. Residence Dining and Great Hall Catering compost all suitable pre-consumer and post-consumer food scraps including biodegradable paper and coffee grounds for many years. At UCC Centre Spot, our customers are also able to compost the following items:
    • All food scraps including cooked meats
    • Uncoated paper serving plates/boxes
    • Napkins
    • Wooden chopsticks

Fair Trade Campus

In November 2015, Western received its designation as a Fair Trade Campus. Fair Trade is a new way of doing business. Fair Trade ensures that farmers and producers are receiving a fair wage and are working in fair conditions for the products we buy. This means all coffee served at non-franchise locations is Fair Trade; at least 3 Fair Trade teas and 1 Fair Trade chocolate is available wherever such products are sold on campus. For more information about Western’s Fair Trade initiative, please visit the website.  


Water bottle filling stations

EZ H2O Bottle Filling Stations are being installed and can be retrofitted to many current water foundations on campus. The initiative encourages the use of reusable water bottles, minimizing disposable plastic waste in the environment. The ‘green ticker’ counts the quantity of 12-ounce bottles saved from the landfill by refilling reusable water bottles. In addition to many campus buildings, all six residence halls that will serve as on-campus accommodations for Congress offer the bottle filling stations.

LEED® certified buildings

As part of our commitment to becoming a low-carbon campus, Western is looking to embed sustainable design as part of any new construction or major renovation on campus. The use of an external certification program, such as LEED®(“Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” certified through the Canadian Green Building Council) not only helps showcase our commitment but comply with internationally-recognized standards and performance measurements.

Western has 13 LEED® buildings that meet high standards in efficiency and occupant wellness:

  • Claudette MacKay Lassonde Pavillion (CMLP) - LEED® Gold (2010)
  • McIntosh Gallery (MG) - LEED® Silver (2012)
  • Stevenson Hall (STVH) and Lawson Hall (LWH) - LEED® Silver (2014)
  • WINDEEE - LEED® Silver (2014)
  • Ontario Hall Residence (OHR) - LEED® Silver (2015)
  • Western Centre for Public Health & Family Medicine - LEED® Silver (2015)
  • The Collider - LEED® Silver (2015)
  • Ivey Business School (IVEY) - LEED® Gold (2015)
  • Physics and Astronomy Building (PAB) - LEED® Certified (2015)
  • Music Building (MB) - LEED® Gold (2017)
  • Delaware Hall Residence (DHR) - LEED® Silver (2018)
  • Western Interdisciplinary Research Building (WIRB) - LEED® Gold (2018)
  • Amit Chakma Engineering Building (ACEB) - LEED® Platinum (2019)

Additionally, Western is in the process of certifying Thames Hall (TH) with the target of the LEED® Silver status.

Buildings & green space

The grounds, including pathways, courtyards, the Sherwood Fox Arboretum, natural areas, and wetlands all play an important role in creating a sense of place at the University. Future planning should include preservation of the grounds and development of a Landscape Plan, including the allocation of lands for the Arboretum, and enhancement of courtyards and other spaces while trying to use species native to Southwestern Ontario whenever considering new planting/landscaping. The retention of these spaces is essential for members of the community to enjoy and interact within the pleasant outdoor surroundings. The presence of trees is considered to be an important environmental aspect of the campus which also enhances its natural beauty. In the development of plans for new facilities, the preservation of trees needs to be a critical part of the planning. When it is necessary to remove trees, they will be replaced in numbers equal to or greater than the trees being removed. In addition, the University will commit enhancing the landscape with plantings throughout the campus.

Harmful fungicide and pesticides are not used on campus and haven't been for more than a decade. In 2009, grounds phased out herbicides for weed control on hard surface (between sidewalk slabs). There is a plan to rely on natural remedies in a conversion to all environmental products.

Energy & climate

Western is committed to reducing its energy consumption, implementing conservation programs and promoting energy efficiency.

The sustainability team offers plenty of ways to get involved. Whether it is participating in the Green Office Program, the Residence Energy Reduction Campaign or celebrating Earth Hour, we have a variety of engagement initiatives that staff, students and faculty members can partake in to reduce their energy consumption.

In 2010, Western completed a comprehensive inventory of its GHG emissions from Main Campus. We now report our carbon emissions to federal and provincial agencies every year.

Energy conservation & demand management

In 2014, Western determined a set of Energy Conservation Goals that would drive investment and innovation within our facilities. More recently, Western has updated its commitment to Energy Conservation. The 2019-2024 Conservation and Demand Management (CDM) report includes Western's results from 2014-2018 and the plan for moving forward.

Facilities Management continues to support these and more conservation and demand management initiatives. Please check out the website to learn more about Western’s projects undertaken with conservation outcomes.

Energy & water

Facilities Management (FM) has a multi-disciplinary team who works on conservation and efficiency projects with partners of Western. For the last 25 years, our experts have made improvements to the buildings and their systems to save both water and energy. A few of our initiatives include:

  • Conservation and demand management
    In 2014, Western set Energy Conservation goals that would drive investment and innovation within our facilities. These goals included:
    • Achieving a 9% reduction in energy use intensity (ekWh/m2) below 2012 levels
    • Reducing overall energy use by 4% below 2012 use
    • Reducing direct Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions below the 2009 baseline
    • Reducing water use intensity (m3/m2) by 8% below 2012 levels

FM continues to support these and more conservation and demand management initiatives.

  • Electric & Hybrid vehicles
    FM has invested in both hybrid cars and electric vehicles reinforcing a commitment to alternative fuels and reducing carbon footprint. Electric vehicles:
    • Are virtually silent
    • Can travel up to a maximum speed of 40km/h
    • Are licensed for road use, although they are intended to be used in a closed environment, such as a university campus
    • According to the distributor, Vantage low speed electric vehicles can reduce annual carbon emissions by more than nine tons and operate for one-tenth the cost of comparable gas-powered units
    • Western is the first university in Ontario and the second in Canada to purchase these electric vans
  • Solar power LED lamps
    The University Student Council (USC), in partnership with FM, installed two solar powered LED lamps on campus in the summer of 2012. The project cost $16,000 and is an initiative generated as a result of the USC’s 2010 Student Legacy Fund Challenge. The solar panels are mounted onto two poles along Oxford Drive in front of UCC. The panels have a life expectancy of 20 years, and the LED lights are expected to last up to 50,000 hours.
  • Ultra-low freezer replacement initiative
    Western is working with researchers to replace old, energy intensive ultra-low freezers with new, energy-efficient Thermo Scientific TSX Freezers. The initiative will help mitigate risks that are associated with older, less reliable units, as well as help promote a higher level of research while saving energy and supporting the University’s carbon reduction goals.
    • The program brought 34 new TSX freezers to campus
    • The new freezers use up to 70% less energy than older ultra-low freezers
    • Advanced features of the new units include wireless monitoring, touch-screen interface, and quiet operation
  • New faucets in residences
    Western’s utility supplier, Union Gas, delivered hundreds of shower heads, kitchen sink aerators, and bathroom aerators for a program directed at campus residences. These new faucets use about 30% less water compared to previous fixtures. According to the Union Gas literature, a 100-unit residence can save about $5,000 on water and energy each year and receive $900 as an incentive from the utility supplier.