Sustainability Around Campus

"I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I am frightened of the old ones" - John Cage

Green Tip

Make a bison burger. Once almost extinct, thanks in part to a rise in bison consumption, their population has risen to 450,000

Facilities Management Division
University of Saskatchewan University Services Building
110 Maintenance Road
Saskatoon SK
Canada S7N 5C5

Sustainability Around Campus and Best Practices

People from throughout the University of Saskatchewan are starting to take sustainability to heart. Here are some of the projects and initiatives - some big, some small - that are happening across our Campus.

Assessment of our Sustainability Progress
Commitments and Policies
Food and Beverages
Green Buildings
Green Spaces
Waste Reduction
Water Conservation
Other Neat Stuff

Assessment of our Sustainability Progress

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS was developed by AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) with broad participation from the higher education community. The University of Saskatchewan has a STARS score 37.14 which qualifies it for a bronze rating. Of the 23 Canadian universities that have participated in STARS, 7 have a bronze rating, 15 have a silver rating and only one has a gold rating. U of S STARS report

Commitments and Policies

Facilities Management Division Sustainability Policy

In 2006, the Facilities Management Division adopted a Sustainability Policy for the Workplace. By modeling sustainability in the workplace, Facilities Management hopes to demonstrate its commitment to sustainability to the campus community.

Institutional Commitment

As a signatory to the Talloires Declaration the U of S is committed to implementing an action plan to promote sustainability on-campus and abroad. See Sustainability at the U of S for more details.

Integrated Planning

One of the 20 areas of commitment in the University's Second Integrated Plan was "Sustainability as a Shared Challenge." A campus-wide Sustainability Commitment Working Group met regularly throughout the 4-year planning cycle (2008-2012) to develop plans and strategies to move the campus towards greater sustainability. The Third Integrated Plan (2012-2016) commits the university to "Model Sustainability and Practice Effective Stewardship" as well. See Sustainability at the U of S for more details.

University and College Presidents' Climate Change Statement of Action

In October 2010, President Peter MacKinnon signed the University and College Presidents' Climate Change Statement for Action. The statement recognizes the potential for adverse health, social, economic and ecological effects of global climate change and commits the university to using its leadership position and research expertise to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This statement of action commits the university to several actions. First and foremost is to demonstrate leadership by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. To do this, the university will develop measurable emission reduction targets, develop practical plans to achieve these targets, and establish monitoring and measurement procedures. See Climate Action Plan for more information.

USSU Sustainability Board and Policy

In 2005, the University of Saskatchewan Students' Union (USSU) created a standing Sustainability Board to examine issues of social and environmental sustainability within the USSU. As its first task, the Sustainability Board created a USSU Sustainability Policy, which was revised in 2012. The USSU also conducted a baseline sustainability assessment which provided recommendations on how the organization can improve its social and environmental responsibility. Contact for more information.


Energy Management

The U of S Facilities Management Division (FMD) is undertaking the development of an energy management plan that will identify potential energy reduction strategies. FMD incorporates energy efficiency into their everyday work and will continue to move forward in identifying new opportunities for campus. Along with the energy management plan development, FMD is also working on baseline energy audits of all major campus buildings. The path to energy reductions on campus will take efforts from everyone, and utilize both technology and behaviour changes.

Power of the Sun

The installation of a 24-kilowatt solar panel system at the Horticulture Science Field Facility was one step to fulfilling the university’s commitment to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. The array will supply about 70 per cent of the yearly power needs of the horticulture facility, located south of the main campus on 14th Street, or about the same as it takes to power 3.7 homes. For more information go to: Power of the Sun

Plugging In Efficiently

Since 2008, Parking and Transportation Services has been installing parking lot controllers on campus. The first installations were at the Stadium Parkade and McEown Park. Since that time approximately 1600 devices serving 3200 parking stalls have been installed throughout campus, many with the help of a $50.00 per stall incentive program from SaskPower. Another 417 will be installed this year. A parking lot controller is similar to a standard outdoor electrical outlet, except it regulates electricity flowing to the outlet based on outdoor temperatures. So far audits show 45.62% savings on the energy costs associated with plugging in cars on campus. Maintenance costs have also gone down thanks to the automated features of the devices.

Lighting Retrofits

Over 26,000 magnetic ballast fluorescent fixtures have been replaced with more energy efficient electronic ballasts and fluorescent bulbs. In addition about 3,000 incandescent bulbs have been replaced with compact fluorescents and almost 700 exits signs retrofitted with light emitting diodes, which reduces them from 25 to 2.5 watts each. In addition to conserving energy, these measures improve lighting quality.

The overall target for energy saved by the lighting retrofit project is 17,893 GJ/yr or $277,365 saved per year in electricity costs (at current utility rates). This amounts to greenhouse gas emission reductions of about 4,240,000 kg CO2/yr, which is roughly equivalent to 656 cars and light trucks being taken off the road in Saskatchewan.

Even though the project is not yet finished, up to September 2009, the energy saved by the lighting retrofit project was 9,266 GJ/yr or $143,635 saved per year in electricity costs (at current utility rates). The GHG emission reductions to date are 2,196,000 kg CO2/yr or 340 cars and light trucks not used in Saskatchewan.

Check out On Campus News, January 9, 2009

Lights Off Campaign

Lights-Off stickers throughout campus remind us that even the most energy efficient lights are wasting electricity if they are burning for no reason. A good rule of thumb is that if you anticipate that the room you are leaving will be empty for 10 minutes or more, shut off the lights. Saskatchewan's electricity is primarily derived from burning coal, which means that it produces more greenhouse gas emissions than electricity derived from other sources, such as hydro.

If you would like Lights Off stickers for your on-campus workplace or office, email with your request.

McEown Park Lighting Retrofits

Over 1650 incandescent light bulbs have been replaced with compact fluorescent bulbs in Seager Wheeler Hall. It is estimated that this retrofit saves about $1000 in energy costs per month. As well, fluorescent lighting has been upgraded to new energy efficient tubes and electronic ballasts in the hallways of Assiniboine Hall.

Food and Beverages

Culinary Services Sustainability Initiatives

For information on Culinary Services sustainability initiatives, go to: Culinary Services Sustainability

Culinary Services sustainability initiatives include:

  • Tray-less dining which saves water, energy and chemicals needed for washing and reduces food waste.
  • Cage Free Eggs
  • Biodegradable Take-Out Containers
  • Recycled content serviettes
  • Purchasing from local suppliers
  • Fair trade coffee at non-branded coffee outlets
  • Discounts for travel mug use

Good Food Market

The Aboriginal Students' Centre along with the Student Health Centre and the Child Hunger and Education Program (CHEP) have started a weekly Good Food Market at the ASC where you can pick up fruits and vegetable at lower costs then some grocery stores! Contact the Aboriginal Student Centre for details.

Green Buildings

Green Building standards and practices have been integrated into the planning and design of a number of new buildings and renovations on campus, including the Law Building addition, the Health Sciences additions, the Aboriginal Students Centre, the Murray Building renovations, and the Place Riel Renovation and Addition. Over their lifetime, these projects will use less energy and water, generate less pollutants and greenhouse gases, produce less waste and cost less to operate than comparable projects.

University Learning Commons in the Murray Building

The Academic Health Sciences Additions

The two additions to the Academic Health Sciences Building are being constructed with sustainability in mind.

The D-wing addition will include such green features as:

  • Salvaged stone incorporated into the new building veneer.
  • A high quality and durable building envelope.
  • Reflective and living roofs.
  • A high percentage of local and regional materials.
  • A high degree of daylight and views, in contrast to most laboratory buildings.
  • Heat reclamation to conserve energy on exhaust air.
  • The E-wing addition will include:

    • A prairie pond to collect and manage stormwater runoff.
    • Low and ultra-low flow plumbing fixtures.
    • Solar Collectors to supply up to 80% of the building's domestic hot water.
    • Occupancy sensors to automatically reduce ventilation in unoccupied areas.
    • Occupancy sensors to turn off lighting when spaces are unoccupied.
    • Daylight sensors in the atrium and library to reduce lighting when natural lighting is sufficient.

    For more information, see the

    College of Law Addition

    The recently constructed College of Law received LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold certification. For information on the Law Addition, check out.. For photos of the living roof on the Law Addition, click here Law Living Roof 1 and Law Living Roof 2.

    Learning Commons Green Transformation

    The green features in the University Learning Commons in the Murray Building include:

    • The existing concrete floor was hardened and polished, eliminating the need for new floor materials and finishes.
    • Light quality was improved and energy requirements reduced with daylight sensors and dimmable fluorescent ballasts that adjust lighting levels according to the amount of natural light present.
    • Demountable wall partitions were used in place of drywall and steel studs in office areas, to eliminate the waste associated with future office reconfigurations and allow for flexibility in office layouts.
    • 75% of construction waste was diverted from the landfill. For example, 300 light fixtures were reused in campus retro-fitting programs.
    • Water saving flush valves on flush toilets and water efficient urinals were installed.

    The University Learning Centre and Learning Commons is registered under LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) Commercial Interiors, and is expected to achieve a silver rating for its sustainability performance.

    Living Roof Test Plots

    Facilities Management partnered with the Department of Geography to develop living roof test plots. These plots tested the feasibility of employing this technology here at the University of Saskatchewan, and specifically in the extreme climate conditions of our region. See the article in On Campus News, September 9, 2005.

    Place Riel Renovation and Addition

    The University of Saskatchewan Students' Union (USSU) places sustainability at the core of its practices, events, campaigns, operations, and services. For the Place Riel Renovation and Expansion Project, U of S students tasked the design team with making the project as environmentally sustainable as possible. The project is intended to achieve LEED Certification, targeting Silver. Some of the green building initiatives used in the design include: an energy efficient mechanical system, building envelope, and lighting; low or zero VOC emitting interior finishes; and renewable and recycled building materials. Place Riel Feature

    Green Spaces

    College of Education Prairie Habitat Garden

    The College of Education's Prairie Habitat garden is designed to be a source of education by offering students a chance to see prairie plants in a natural setting designed to showcase native Saskatchewan plants. This garden is intended to inspire students to strive to protect the plants and their habitats. Check out the Prairie Habitat Garden website.

    Community Gardens

    The University of Saskatchewan has two community gardens, on at Seager Wheeler and one run by the Horticulture Club. The Seager Wheeler Residence has a community garden for its residents and their families. The garden allows families to grow their own organic food. A side benefit is that the garden has become a hub of activity and has contributed to the Seager Wheeler residents' quality of life. Not only that, but in the summer of 2008, residents doubled the size of the garden to accommodate the demand for gardening plots. See On Campus News, September 7, 2007 . The Horticulture Club has a community garden which is located at the U of S greenhouses on 14th Street. The project involves approximately 25 students, who are responsible for starting transplants in the greenhouse, field seeding, transplanting, maintaining (weeding), harvesting and storing of produce. Some produce is designated for sale to cover the cost of inputs, however the students consume the majority of produce. A faculty adviser and student coordinators assist the students in learning more about vegetable production.


    Grounds (a division of Facilities Management) is trying to find ways to make the U of S landscape less dependent on water. In addition to specifying drought tolerant plants in areas outside of the bowl, Grounds is experimenting with different turfgrass mixtures.

    The landscape in front of the University Services Building is serving as a test plot for a seed mixture containing 5 different fescue grass species with attributes such as drought tolerance, slow growth rate, and ability to outcompete weeds. Once established, this stand of fescue turf grass will not require irrigation, fertilizer, regular mowing, or chemical weed control. Grounds will continue to watch this area, receive feedback, and determine if this type of turf grass could provide the university with a more sustainable option for many of our landscaped areas.

    College of Agriculture Edible Landscape

    Started in 2012, to mark the 100th anniversary of the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, this garden of domestic fruit crops developed by the Domestic Fruit Development Program demonstrates the potential for landscaping with fruits to support sustainable local food production and food security. Plant varieties include dwarf sour cherry cultivars, multiple grafted apple trees, Haskap, grapes, and raspberries. This program is headed up by Dr. Bob Bors, Assistant Professor and fruit breeder.


    The Green Road Project

    The "Green Street Pilot Project" (on the North Road) was a partnership between Facilities Management and the Saskatchewan Centre of Excellence for Transportation and Infrastructure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve city transit access, and take advantage of onsite salvaged materials. The North Road was reconstructed using sustainable construction methods that used salvaged materials like road rubble, crushed concrete, glass, and porcelain to produce a greener, more durable finished product. In one portion of the road asphalt was applied using a cold process (much less energy-intensive), while in another a form of pervious pavement was installed. The road performance will be monitored and it is hoped that these techniques will help transform the road rebuilding industry by lowering capital and lifecycle costs, lowering emissions, enhancing road performance, and providing useful end-uses for recycled construction, renovation, and deconstruction waste. Check out On Campus News, May 8, 2009 and On Campus News, September 4, 2009 .


    Sustainable Purchasing Guide

    A working group, comprised of representatives from Consumer Services, Purchasing Services, Facilities Management Division, and the USSU, started collaborating in the spring of 2007 to develop strategies to address the sustainability implications of campus procurement guidelines and procedures. The result of this group's work, the University of Saskatchewan Sustainable Purchasing Guide, was launched in October of 2009. The Protocol is primarily intended as a resource for university purchasers, but it is hoped that rest of the campus community will also use it as a resource for making more sustainable consumer choices.


    The Parking and Transportation Office is working on initiatives to encourage sustainable transportation choices. For detailed information go: Parking and Transportation Initiatives .

    Campus Cycling Club

    The newly formed Campus Cycling Club (CCC) is made up of cycling enthusiasts who want to promote bicycle transportation to students, staff, and faculty at the University of Saskatchewan. Through partnerships with the USSU and Office of Sustainability the club will endeavor to provide cycling activities and programs. The CCC will also advocate for a bike co-operative that will rent or sell refurbished bicycles to students at fair rates and provide workshops on topics such as winter cycling and bike maintenance. Above all, the CCC will aim to reduce barriers to bike riding and empower people to choose this sustainable form of transportation - year round! For more information or to join contact or visit their facebook page.

    Campus Transportation Committee

    The Campus Transportation Committee is the review and advisory body regarding all modes of sustainable transportation for the university community and within campus core lands. The committee assists in defining the transportation needs of the University Core Area Master Plan and works towards the goal of implementing transportation systems and policies that contribute to human and ecosystem health.

    U-Pass and Eco-Pass

    The USSU has a U-Pass program for undergraduates that reduces the cost of taking public transit by about 75% over the normal adult fare. Find out more at: USSU U-Pass. A U-Pass for graduate students will start in September, 2013.

    University staff can apply for an Eco Pass is a regular adult bus pass which costs 40% less than a normal adult bus pass. Follow this link to find out more about the program and to place your name on the waiting list: Eco Pass

    Car Sharing

    Enterprise Car Sharing is a membership-based car sharing program for people who are looking for an alternative method of transportation that lowers the cost and reduces the hassles of traditional transportation. Car sharing can help reduce the total number of cars on the road, Enterprise Car Share members help contribute to a cleaner, greener environment. To find out more information on how to join click on

    Bike Lockers

    The University of Saskatchewan's has bike lockers are made from 100% recycled black plastic except doors and hardware, and come with a locking mechanism and padlock and can be placed in many locations throughout campus as required by the individual user. For more information on the bike lockers and rental agreements, go to: bike lockers

    Ride Sharing with UCommute

    UCommute allows users to easily find carpool partners as well as bike, walking, and transit buddies. The program is accessible only to PAWS users and is tailored to commuters traveling to campus. A "Log my Commute" function allows users to track their individual trips and generate stats like greenhouse gases saved, fuel use, and even calories burned. Statistics are tallied per trip and per month, allowing users to get a good sense of their contribution to greenhouse gas production and the use of fuel resources.

    Secured Bike Lock-up

    Bicycle racks in the Agriculture Parkade provide reserved storage for bicycles. These spaces will provide year round heated storage free from the elements (rain and snow) and will include video surveillance, a secure locking system (frame and tire), and a tough Kryptonite Keeper U lock. Bike Lockers are also available at key locations throughout campus. To find out more, contact Parking Services at 966-4502.

    Transit Hub and U-Pass

    Thanks to the hard work of the USSU, the U-Pass went into effect in September of 2006. At the same time the new Transit Hub was opened, which allows 15 of the city's 18 city bus routes to connect through the campus. These two initiatives have substantially increased use of the transit system. Check out On Campus News, September 22, 2006.

    USSU Bike Tool Service

    With a valid student card, bike tool kits and supplies for minor repairs can be rented from the Physical Activity Complex Equipment Room during PAC hours. Not only that, but in September 2011 the USSU installed a Bike Tool Repair stand outdoors between the Arts and Thorvaldson buildings. More information can be obtained from

    Waste Reduction

    Since it started in September 2006, Campus Recycling has recycled close to a half million beverage containers and provided jobs to about a dozen students (check out On Campus News, July 7, 2006 on Recycling Launch). Over the years Campus Recycling has expanded adding various materials to the program. As of January 1, 2012, the University has partnered with Loraas Disposal to provide a single-stream recycling system in order to make recycling simple and straightforward. For details on what materials can go into the recycling bins on campus and programs for diverting other materials and products from the landfill, see the recycling page.

    Toner and Ink Cartridge Recycling

    Supreme Basics, the university's contracted supplier for office and IT supplies, will take back your empty toner and ink cartridges as part of their sustainability program and ensure they are properly recycled. Simply return them to the Supreme Basics driver on the next visit, or contact the dedicated customer service team, or add a note on your next online order to request a pickup. All contacts for the program provided by Supreme Basics can be found on the Purchasing Services website

    Fluorescent Tube Recycling

    The mercury in one, four-foot fluorescent light tube (about 23 mg) can contaminate 30,000 litres of water, according to Environment Canada. Fluorescent tubes at the U of S are processed in a 'bulb eater' that works exactly like you'd expect - by eating the tube. The machine crushes the glass tube and then three filters catch over 99.9 per cent of the mercury and phosphorous, which is re-used for the production of new bulbs. The glass is used to make reflective highway paint and the metal is melted down and re-used as well.

    Grounds Composting

    Currently the U of S composts most grounds waste, diverting approximately 570 tons of organic waste from the landfill per year. Work is being done on exploring options for composting of food waste.

    Water Conservation

    Baseline Study of Water Use on Campus

    During the summer of 2008, a baseline study of water uses on campus was conducted. This included inventories of all water-consuming fixtures throughout campus. The results of this study will be used as the basis for a number of water conservation projects in the upcoming years.

    Irrigation System

    Over the course of several years, Facilities Management is installing a new central control irrigation system. The system includes satellite irrigation control stations throughout campus linked to a central control station. This central control station will measure variables such as temperature, evaporation, and rainfall, as well as water flows at each satellite station. Based on this information, the system will ensure that watering happens under optimal conditions at optimal rates. See the article in On Campus News, July 8, 2006.

    Water Conservation Initiatives in the Education Building

    Facilities Management Division is in the process of replacing the Education Building's 63 toilets with dual-flush, low-flow toilets. It is estimated that this will save up to 90% of the water currently used, as much as 8.9 million litres every year. Large quantities of water are also used to flush the urinals in the washrooms. By replacing seven urinals with a manual-flush, 1.9 litre/flush model and retrofitting the banks of urinals in other washrooms with a sensor system designed by one of the university's electricians, Gord Poole, another estimated 5.4 million litresliters of water will be saved per year. As resources permit, similar retrofits will be undertaken in other buildings across campus.

    Other Neat Stuff

    Green Cleaning

    As of May 1, 2008, all products used to clean the 43 campus buildings maintained by Facilities Management are EcoLogoM certified. The cleaning products are non-toxic and low-VOC (volatile organic compounds). In addition to this, all chemicals used by custodial staff are metered. By measuring these chemicals carefully, staff will ensure they are only using the correct ratios. The residence cleaning staff have also switched to green cleaning in nine buildings including the four high-rise residences in McEown Park.

    The Residences are also doing a pilot project with using green cleaning supplies. As green products are approved for use in the Residences, they will also be used in Marquis Hall. Please see the On Campus News article for more information about the Residences project.

    Green Computing Initiatives

    To see green computing initiatives happening on campus, visit the Information Technology Services website.

    Greening of Campus Conferences

    More and more on-campus conferences are striving to be more sustainable.. Strategies included compostable plates and dinnerware, paper use reduction, lug-a-mug programs and public transit promotion. For more information, check out On Campus News, March 23, 2007

    A University of Saskatchewan Green Conference Guide is available to make it even easier to host green conferences at our university.

    Opportunities for Students

    The Office of Sustainability provides opportunities for students to engage in applied sustainability. For instance, it regularly collaborates with a number of colleges to provide class-based sustainability projects for students, as well as career-oriented summer employment internships and part-time winter internships.

    Are we missing something from this list? Let us know!