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The Office of Sustainability

Advancing and incorporating the principles of sustainability across York's campuses

SUSTAINABILITY IS EVERYTHING

At York, sustainability is more than a promise to control our waste and energy. It is the lens through which we see everything we do. It is in the character that we all have, in the space we all occupy, and in the culture we create for everyone—on campus and in our communities. Most importantly, it is the challenge that we must all agree to tackle together.

We are challenging ourselves, to work towards reaching the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the United Nations. And we’re inviting everyone—students, faculty, and community members—to join us.

PEOPLE

York University is working to foster a culture of collaborative behaviour that harmonizes the efforts of the York community to pursue widely understood sustainability objectives. York’s holistic understanding of sustainability includes human well-being and social dimensions, and recognizes the social, economic and environmental roles of York University in and with our local neighbourhoods.

PE1: Culture of Sustainability: The York University community demonstrates a culture of sustainability through individual behaviour and institutional practices, such as dedicating staff and academic positions to pursue sustainability, embedding sustainability in all job descriptions, and changing behaviour and practices through focused training and continuing education for new and incoming staff, faculty and students.

PE2: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Social Justice: York University’s holistic approach to sustainability includes social sustainability. York is an inclusive and welcoming community that draws strength from inclusivity and diversity and a commitment to equity and social justice.

PE3: Anchor Institution: Each of York University’s campuses is an anchor institution6with their surrounding communities. They proactively engage to promote sustainable economic, cultural, social, and environmental opportunities and innovation.

KNOWLEDGE

York University’s mission is the pursuit, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge through excellence in research and teaching. Our strengths in sustainability research inform our teaching. York aspires to develop pathways for all students to access sustainability curriculum, especially experiential education opportunities in sustainability.

KN1: International Reputation: York University’s international reputation in sustainability education and research draws students from across Canada and around the world to study here.

KN2: Living Lab & Experiential Education: York University utilizes its campus operations, grounds and buildings as ‘living labs’ that provide experiential education opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students.

KN3: Sustainability Learning Outcomes: Undergraduate learning outcomes and graduate attributes of York University students include, wherever appropriate, the ability to identify and articulate sustainability challenges facing our world, and to assess, critique, explain and take action to address these problems.

KN4: World Leader in Research: York University is recognized as a world leader in applied sustainability research.

KN5: Leading Edge Research: York University researchers and staff work together to develop, conduct and apply leading edge research and technology in sustainability initiatives.

KN6: Network of Centres of Excellence: York University will establish a Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE) in Sustainability that attracts world class researchers in sustainability and enables York to partner with other institutions and stakeholders around the world in sustainability research and knowledge mobilization.

PLACES

Campus sustainability consist of development, operations and maintenance on our campuses. New development is guided by green building targets, and York is building on successes with waste diversion, sustainable procurement, transportation, carbon reductions and operations.


PL1: Decision-Marking: York University integrates sustainability into both long-term institutional strategic planning and day-to-day decision-making.

PL2: Intentional Design: As an established institutional value, York University makes sustainability visible and tangible on our campuses through intentional design that improves ecological and human well-being, supports experiential education, fosters innovation and demonstrates best practices.

PL3: Financial Sustainability: York University integrates sustainability into its overall financial plan, integrated resource plans and procurement, and is a responsible investor with respect to sustainability.

PL4: Innovation Fund: York University has an ongoing sustainability innovation fund to support sustainability projects on its campuses.

PL5: Carbon Emissions: York University has a long-term energy strategy and action plan with the goal of minimizing carbon emissions on our campuses. This will be achieved by pursuing integrated strategies in key areas such as energy, transportation, buildings, and operations.

PL6: Ecosystem & Human Well-Being: York University’s campuses are ecologically healthy, and provide accessible and inviting spaces to learn, live, work and play. Valuing and prioritizing open and green spaces allows York University to manage our campuses to generate “co-benefits” that improve ecosystem health as well as human health and well-being.

PL7: Green Buildings: Buildings on York campuses and lands held by York University are models of sustainable design and operation in multiple dimensions. Not only do they achieve energy, water and human health sustainability benefits, but they also serve as living labs that support experiential education and research in sustainability.

PL8: Net Positive: All new development, and where possible renovations, on York University campuses are constructed to the highest green building standards, and aspire to net positive contributions with respect to energy and utility consumption and other dimensions of sustainability.

What York is Doing

York University has long been recognized as an international leader in sustainability-relevant research, teaching, partnerships, and campus practices. By challenging ourselves to deepen this work over the next five years, and to track and report on our contributions, we reaffirm our longstanding York values of social justice, equity, sustainability, and excellence in all that we do.

Creating a sustainable future starts now and it starts with us.

Are you up for the challenge?

What You Can Do

Get involved!

Getting involved in York’s sustainability initiatives is a great decision—for yourself, your community, and our future. The United Nations has established 17 Sustainability Development Goals and challenged the world to meet them. York University is already recognized as an international leader in SDG-relevant research, teaching, partnerships, and campus practices.

Learn more about the UN’s 17 SDGs and how York is rising to the challenge.

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Watch this video to understand York's Land Acknowledgement.

York University acknowledges its presence on the traditional territory of many Indigenous Nations. The area known as Tkaronto has been care taken by the Anishinabek Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Huron-Wendat, and the Métis. It is now home to many Indigenous Peoples. We acknowledge the current treaty holders, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. This territory is subject of the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement to peaceably share and care for the Great Lakes region.

We also understand that Indigenous peoples around the world have important knowledge about how to live sustainably:

Sophisticated knowledge of the natural world is not confined to science. Human societies all across the globe have developed rich sets of experiences and explanations relating to the environments they live in. These ‘other knowledge systems’ are today often referred to as traditional ecological knowledge or Indigenous or local knowledge. They encompass the sophisticated arrays of information, understandings and interpretations that guide human societies around the globe in their innumerable interactions with the natural milieu.