Changing our systems to ensure a sustainable world
Sheridan is fully committed to integrating sustainability into all aspects of teaching, learning, energy, waste and operations. Throughout our post-pandemic recovery, our commitment to environmental sustainability has remained steadfast. As climate change continues to dominate headlines, we recognize our responsibility in setting new standards for green efforts on our campuses and in local communities.
Harnessing heightened environmental awareness
Building a sustainable future for our campus communities requires a holistic approach – and environmental sustainability is an essential component of Sheridan's efforts.
In Sheridan’s Strategic Plan: Sheridan 2024: Galvanizing Education for a Complex World, sustainability is identified as one of its ‘empowering enablers’. And by becoming the first Ontario postsecondary institution to sign the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Accord in early 2021, Sheridan solidified its commitment to fostering a sustainable future.
Here are a few ways we reinforced our leadership in green campus initiatives over the past year:
In 2021, Sheridan was recognized as the EnVisioneer of the Year by Danfoss, a global supplier of energy-efficient solutions, for developing innovative energy savings systems. Sheridan uses pre-engineered, factory-built energy transfer stations (ETS) in its recently upgraded district heating system.
Sheridan replaced its nearly 50-year-old steam plant at the Trafalgar Road Campus that served six of its buildings with a new hot water district heating system capable of serving centralized heat to the entire campus.
Sheridan reduced its annual natural gas consumption by more than 280,000m3 — which equates to an annual greenhouse gas emission reduction of 530 metric tonnes. District energy systems help conserve energy while increasing usage efficiency and are an important component of the Integrated Energy and Climate Master Plan, which aims to decrease the College’s overall energy and carbon emissions by 50% by 2030.
Partnerships with the Town of Oakville and City of Brampton led to the development of the 30-year Community Energy Strategy. The plans support a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2041, representing an estimated 48.3 million metric tonnes. Initiatives within the plan are expected to repatriate a good portion of the roughly $1.9B of energy expenditure currently leaving the communities, support local economic growth and job creation, and return at least $33B in cost savings to residents.
Sheridan was a primary driver in the creation of Future Energy Oakville in the spring of this year, leveraging its experiences with campus energy management and district energy to initiate and shape the community energy strategy. This new not-for-profit organization has a mandate to implement the strategy and transform the city’s energy future. Sheridan’s Vice President, Finance and Administration, Wayne Steffler is a founding member of the board.
Sheridan was named the sole Canadian International Green Gown Award finalist in the Benefitting Society category for its Sustainable Development Innovation Ecosystem Project. The Green Gown Awards, supported by UN Environment Programme, recognize the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges around the world.
Our sustainability progress, by the numbers
Sheridan set a source energy (total primary energy consumption) reduction goal of at least 50% by 2030, compared to our original 2010 baseline. So far, we’ve achieved a 20% reduction and are on track to meet that goal.
We set a 50% reduction goal in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. We’ve exceeded the target, achieving a 54% reduction more than a decade early.
We've achieved a 54% (732 metric tonnes) reduction in landfill waste from our three campuses and have seen a 167% increase in recycling and organics when compared to data from before the introduction of Sheridan’s Zero Waste program in 2013-14.
As Sheridan continues to lead as an institutional model for sustainability, partnership projects demonstrate our commitment to restoring biodiversity, building stronger communities and projecting true global citizenship.
Building towards a greener and brighter future at Sheridan
A new naturalized garden is blooming at Sheridan’s Trafalgar Road Campus after the College partnered with Oakvillegreen to ‘de-pave’ an unused area of asphalt. Over the course of two days, volunteers removed the 100-square-metre section of pavement. The area was filled with soil, mulch, native grasses and shrubs.
Life is a buzz at Sheridan
The Davis and Trafalgar Road campuses welcomed a new colony of residents last summer: bees. The Sheridan Student Union partnered with alumnus Ted Parkes, owner of Teddy Bee Honey, and FAST (Faculty of Applied Science and Technology) professor Anna Wachholz to bring four hives to Sheridan. The nucleus hives house approximately 15,000 bees per hive and are expected to grow to 50,000 each, producing up to 30 kg of honey annually, some of which will be used by student food services.
United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals
Last year, Sheridan became Ontario’s first institution to sign the SDG Accord, the postsecondary sector’s collective international response to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals . These 17 Global Goals were adopted by countries around the world in 2015 as a means to guide global action on the urgent social, economic and environmental challenges facing our planet. Which goals do the stories on this page advance? See below.