THE UNIVERSITY OF Ottawa has been ranked the 19th most sustainable university campus in the world, according to a study done by the University of Indonesia. The study ranked 178 universities worldwide by their efforts in the categories of setting and infrastructure, energy and climate change, waste, water, and transportation.
Jonathan Rausseo, sustainable development manager for the Sustainability Office at the U of O, said the rating brought joy to everyone in the office.
“We’ve been working on this a long time—and we know the University of Ottawa is a good university, but there are so very few places that ever measure that,” said Rausseo. “What happens is that somebody comes up and says ‘Look, we’ve measured everything, we’ve done all the work, and you guys are great: You’re one of the top 20 in the world.’ It made us feel really good.”
In addition to the 19th worldwide rating, the University of Ottawa was also ranked the second most sustainable campus in Canada behind York University, which ranked 14th globally.
According to Rausseo, it is the U of O’s relatively good scores in all areas that helped the university rank so high. Despite water being the category in which the U of O received the lowest scores, the school’s water consumption has decreased by 20 per cent in the last decade.
“What we have here at the university is a pretty good portfolio of sustainability streaks,” said Rausseo. “We’re really good with energy; we’re really good with water; we’re really good with recycling. Those are the three key ones that people think of.”
The U of O did best in the category of energy and climate change, which Rausseo said is logical due to Ontario’s relatively high energy prices. Conservation helps to save costs while being environmentally friendly.
Kira Lamont, volunteer at the Sustainability Office, shared Rausseo’s pride in the university’s accomplishments, saying the rating is phenomenal.
“To me, it’s really inspiring when we sit here in Canada and we see that overall there’s this inaction on environmental issues,” she said. “And here we stand as an institution at the university that has exceeded environmental standards.”
Rausseo said there is always room for improvement, and the U of O administration and Sustainability Office are looking to implement those improvements.
“Next year, we’d love to see how we can move up,” he said. “We can study the competitors. We can look at all the best practices from other universities. We can’t do everything that every university does, but we’ll try to incorporate what we can and see if maybe next year we can come out at least being the top [university] in Canada.”
—Spencer Van Dyk