Message to the Community

Dear friends,

In 2015, we celebrated UBC’s 100th birthday, and with that over 20 years of sustainability commitment and achievement.

As we reflect on our history, we also look to the future. It is expected that by 2100, 80 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities. Many of our biggest challenges, including climate change, will need to be solved in urban centres around the globe.

As a university, we have been presented with a clear and urgent opportunity to leverage our expertise to catalyze a sustainable transformation of communities and cities in order to address grand challenges of our time.

Our efforts and successes already have a direct application to urban sustainability, including building and energy innovation, behaviour change, and wellbeing.

The task now is to focus our intellectual capital on creating a regenerative campus and generating long-term solutions so that current and future generations can live in complete communities that are happier, healthier, and more sustainable.

Already, UBC faculty members, in partnership with the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS), are working to explore opportunities around the development of low-or-zero emission pathways for sustainable air, land and domestic marine transportation, evaluate community energy solutions and identify policy pathways toward ultra energy efficiency buildings for British Columbia.

Our Greenest City Scholars are gaining applied skills while also supporting City of Vancouver efforts around issues such as autonomous vehicles, ride-sharing, and renewable energy.

This report provides an opportunity to share such successes, track progress made and manage change towards advancing sustainabiliy on and off campus.

“UBC’s sustainability efforts continue to earn recognition. In 2015, we obtained our second consecutive STARS Gold rating from the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and another consecutive Canada’s Greenest Employer Award.”

We also have a responsibility to ensure our students leave as responsible global citizens. To ensure their success, we provide on and off-campus opportunities for students to develop applied skills and make a positive impact in the community.

Our new partnership with the Metro Vancouver Regional District will provide graduate students with applied experience through the new Sustainable Region Scholars program, expanding on our existing MoUs with BC Hydro and the City of Vancouver.

Across operations, our focused efforts on renewable energy and demand side energy conservation have reduced emissions at our Vancouver and Okanagan campuses by 28 per cent relative to 2007 levels, despite rapid campus growth.

“UBC is a carbon neutral university and these success have in turn decreased our carbon offsets by $2.5 million from 2007 levels.”

We are also pleased to report a stronger integration with our UBC Okanagan campus through the development of a new Okanagan Campus Plan, supported by an innovative Whole Systems Infrastructure Plan. These will provide a roadmap toward achieving a net-positive impact on the wellbeing of the campus community and ecology while supporting the University’s strategic plan and academic mission.

Linked to these efforts, Wellbeing at UBC leads a university-wide strategic effort to build happier, healthier, and more sustainable campus communities. Integrated with this agenda, our community development programs advance the development of a model of a vibrant, complete, sustainable community.

“Finally,we know that the wellbeing of people and the planet is inter-dependent.”

Building on our campus wellbeing and community development efforts, UBC advanced the wellbeing agenda internationally by co-hosting the International Conference for Health Promoting Universities and Colleges, ultimately leading to the development of the International Okanagan Charter for Health Promoting Universities and Colleges.

Moving forward, we will explore, innovate and collaborate with our partners to develop the most sustainable university campus in the world and seek to inspire others to do the same.



Dr. James Tansey
Acting Director
UBC Sustainability Initiative


Michael White
Associate Vice-President
Campus and Community Planning


Rob Einarson
Associate Vice-President
Finance & Operations, Okanagan