Mission Zero: Sheridan’s $30 Million Commitment

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120525-Sheridan-5972-EditA $30.6 million investment over the next seven years, confirmed in Sheridan’s recently approved 2013-14 budget is the latest milestone in Sheridan’s efforts to re-envision its energy future to become a ‘living laboratory’ for sustainability and conservation.

Mission Zero Initiatives

Two ‘Mission Zero’ initiatives will now get underway: Sheridan’s Integrated Energy and Climate Master Plan (IECMP), which aims to decrease the College’s overall energy and carbon emissions by 50% by 2030, and Zero Waste Sheridan (ZWS), which will guide its transition to a zero waste campus by 2020.

Dr. Jeff Zabudsky

Dr. Jeff Zabudsky

“New regulations stemming from the Green Energy Act require public institutions in Ontario to create a five-year energy plan by 2014,” explains Dr. Jeff Zabudsky, Sheridan’s President and CEO. “Sheridan has spent the last two years creating and refining a 20 year plan, and has done so fully one year ahead of schedule. Not only have we achieved this important milestone, but we’ve also already begun to take action.”

2013 Objectives & Targets

The first year entails a $3.4 million investment in a series of sub-projects, including gaining control of energy use through building automation, energy conservation measures and infrastructure to distribute heating and cooling systems.  While the first year will net approximately $83,000 in savings, Sheridan is projecting savings of close to $2M in 2015, $3.5M by 2017 and approximately $5-6M per year starting in 2020.

Immediate targets related to the Zero Waste plan, achievable by the end of the 2013 fiscal year include: the reduction and elimination of waste to landfill by 50%; capturing 20 tons of material for reuse in the College and community; waste diversion of 65%; 100% separation and processing of organics; and a reduction of 10 million sheets of paper used across the institution.  These efforts are expected to save Sheridan $230,000 annually by the end of 2013 and reduce carbon emissions by 200 metric tons over the same time period.

More Milestones

In 2011, Sheridan formalized an institutional policy on sustainability. That same year, it became the first Ontario College to be assessed and rated through the Association of the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Sheridan will move forward on its next assessment later this year.

“Some people celebrate Earth day once a year.  We’re trying to create a culture that promotes sustainability and conservation every day,” says Elaine Hanson, the Director of Sheridan’s Office of Sustainability.  “Designing a 20 year sustainability plan with a full range of conservation and renewable supply options such as photovoltaics or biofuels provides the strategic foundation which balances Sheridan’s desire as a public institution to increase efficiency and align with the Province’s energy and climate strategy.  It allows Sheridan to significantly deepen and quantify its environmental and social impacts.  It also serves to increase engagement with industry and community partners.”

Turning Sheridan into a Living Laboratory

“Sheridan’s Mission Zero initiatives are all about transitioning and aligning our business operations with sustainability,” adds Hanson. “But we don’t want to lose sight of another critical benefit – the opportunity to create new programs and applied skill sets for our students here in Ontario and in Canada.  Our plan creates tangible opportunities to address the challenges of our day, such as climate change, pollution, and depleting natural resources. By turning Sheridan into a living laboratory, we’re expanding avenues for curriculum development and undergraduate applied research.” Work has begun to explore how Sheridan can bring together its expertise in animation, visualization and digital media to capture and display data in a way that will drive behaviour change.

Elaine Hanson

Elaine Hanson

“Another hallmark is our consultative process that has brought together over 100 faculty, staff and students in energy and climate change initiatives,” notes Hanson. “By connecting people, we’re encouraging knowledge exchange, nurturing new 21st century skill sets, and we’re building a learning community.  Best of all, we’re giving people ownership over the outcome.”

 

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