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LU pushes forward green agenda with new hire

Benchmarking of energy consumption, composting in residences and a zero-waste cafeteria: these are just a few of the initiatives in progress as Laurentian University advances its “green agenda” under Kati McCartney, manager, energy and sustainability
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Workers dish up samples at the grand opening of the newly-renovated Great Hall cafeteria at Laurentian University Aug. 27. With the modernization of the university's food services, some students are now compelled to purchase meal plans. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.
Benchmarking of energy consumption, composting in residences and a zero-waste cafeteria: these are just a few of the initiatives in progress as Laurentian University advances its “green agenda” under Kati McCartney, manager, energy and sustainability.

“This position is new to Laurentian, but the university is already recognized as an environmental champion on many fronts, and we have the potential to create real leadership in sustainability and conservation,” said McCartney, in a press release. “I’m confident that we can be in the top tier of green universities.”

As Manager of Energy and Sustainability, McCartney will lead the development of sustainable operation planning and will manage the energy purchase and use portfolio.

She is developing both short and long-term sustainability goals for Laurentian, with initiatives in energy consumption, waste diversion, outreach and education. McCartney graduated from Laurentian University with a Master of Science (Chemical Sciences) and a Master of Business Administration.

McCartney will also lead efforts to accurately measure, benchmark and reduce energy consumption across campus. Those efforts will include the installation of meters for all commodities – electricity, natural gas,and water – to track consumption and to benchmark efficiency.

A campus audit conducted in July showed that Laurentian is performing “a bit better than the average for universities in Ontario,” according to McCartney.

“With our benchmarking, we’ll be able to identify those areas where we can improve our performance in energy conservation. We’ll retro-fit where it makes sense, and we’ll also be encouraging changes in behaviours related to energy use.”

One of the high-profile initiatives now underway on the Sudbury campus is the introduction of composting in Laurentian’s residences. With the start of the school year, Laurentian became the first institution in the City of Greater Sudbury to adopt the municipality’s residential composting program.

“We are the first university in the north to implement composting on such a large scale, and it will be our students who make it happen,” said Laurentian’s Director of Housing and Food Services, Ben Demianiuk.

“We’ve worked with the City to put it in place, but it will be up to all of us to create a culture that supports it,” he added. It is estimated that the introduction of composting in residence could divert as much as 50 tonnes of organic waste from landfill each year.

The waste diversion effort goes even further in the University’s newly-renovated dining space in the Great Hall. The restaurant-style cafeteria has no garbage bins, and no blue-box receptacles for glass, plastic or aluminum containers.

“This is a real step change, and a bold move,” said McCartney. “There are no disposable cups, paper plates or plastic cutlery; no pop cans or glass bottles to toss in the blue bin. Everything that is used to serve meals is washable, and anything that’s left on the plates goes right into the compost. This is really a big deal in terms of waste diversion,” she said.

Laurentian University is committed to fostering a strong culture of sustainability and environmental stewardship. Laurentian has signed the Council of Ontario Universities pledge, Ontario Universities: Committed to a Greener World, which commits universities to assist in finding solutions to the challenges of environmental sustainability; to share knowledge about sustainability and climate change; and to incorporate, wherever possible, principles of sustainability into their own operations.

Laurentian will be holding a Campus Sustainability Forum Sept. 29 which will include a public lecture by environmental activist and former Toronto mayor David Miller, current President and CEO of WWF Canada. Further details of the Sustainability Forum will be published later this month.


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