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International survey places U of O second in Canada and 14th worldwide

Jesse Mellott | Fulcrum Staff

THOSE WHO CALL the University of Ottawa a concrete jungle may be surprised to learn just how green our campus is.

According to the results of a survey by the Universitas Indonesia (UI), the U of O is currently the 14th most sustainable university in the world. The UI GreenMetric World University Ranking listed the Université de Sherbrooke as the most sustainable campus in Canada, followed by  the U of O.

The survey takes into account six different factors in determining campus sustainability: the setting and infrastructure of the buildings, energy and climate change, waste management, water consumption, transportation, and environmental education.

Jonathan Rausseo, sustainable development manager at the U of O’s Office of Campus Sustainability, completed the survey for the university. He said that in addition to the aforementioned categories, a number of other things were also taken into account when determining sustainability, like the size of each university and the student population.

“This kind of index is one that kind of levels the playing field for everyone, because if you want to compare us to a really small university, it’s not fair,” Rausseo said.

The survey considers each university’s energy consumption, land use, and the type of academic programs in place. The U of O is denser and uses less space than many other campuses, but it also has less green space.

“If we are using as much energy as a small college, that’s great, because we should be using a lot more given our size, but we aren’t,” said Rausseo.

The survey is concerned with how much of their research budget each participating university puts toward sustainability. Also important is the number of professors the school employs and how many of those professors are publishing articles about sustainability each year.

Rausseo explained that the U of O’s use of energy and transportation helped it achieve its high ranking.

Assistant director of engineering and sustainable development Pierre De Gagné acknowledged energy efficiency as an important issue in helping to maintain the university’s standing. He pointed to the new Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS) building as an example of how the University is taking steps towards becoming as green as possible. De Gagné explained that the heat generated from people, lights, computers, and the data centre in the basement is nearly enough energy to heat the building.

“Eighty per cent of its heating during the winter will be provided by its own internal heat,” said De Gagné. “This isn’t new technology, but reusing existing technology.”

The UI GreenMetric survey has been ranking the world’s universities in terms of sustainability since 2010. Last year, the U of O placed 19th.