Fanshawe earns Gold STARS
Credit: EMILY STEWART
Fanshawe's sustainability coordinator Michelle Cong and facilities operations and sustainability senior manager Ivan Walker. The College's sustainability efforts led them to the STARS Gold Rating after a few years of holding onto the Silver Rating since 2014.
The College has earned the STARS Gold Rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
An Aug.19 news bulletin from MyFanshawe explained STARS stands for AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System. The system promotes sustainability in post-secondary education and records the progress of the schools.
The notice added that the College boosted its STARS rating from silver to gold after adding several sustainable features to the campus, and that Fanshawe is “one of two colleges in Ontario and three in Canada to achieve this rating”.
Michelle Cong, Fanshawe’s sustainability coordinator, said that although “a lot of people say congratulations to” her, the honour came from a collaborative effort from the College.
“I track and document all of the achievements we have been doing, but it’s actually every part of the College who have contributed to the sustainability initiatives,” she said. “Otherwise, without them, we couldn’t have achieved that.”
Cong added the College earned the STARS Silver Rating in 2014, which was the first time Fanshawe entered for consideration.
The sustainability coordinator said that efforts tracked in the engagement, planning and administrative, academic, and operations departments are part of the “four main categories” for STARS. She then explained what Fanshawe has done in those categories and their subcategories.
Cong said the College’s efforts mainly involve operations, including solar panels on the residence buildings that generate heat for the winter.
“They use the solar energy to heat the outside air and bring the heated air into the ventilation into the building.”
Cong said the College is also working on an initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by “30 per cent by 2030” and “80 per cent by 2050”. The goals match those of the Paris Accord and the federal government.
Other operational efforts around campus include additional water bottle refill stations and the College’s green bin program, where even coffee cups can be composted.
Cong said that to meet the criteria for sustainable academics, the College added more courses and scholarships, along with innovation funding so she could create Fanshawe’s zero waste event policy with students.
She added the College’s engagement efforts include actions taken on-campus, such as talking to people at events like the upcoming Sustainability Fair, and off-campus with students volunteering for ReForest London and the London Environmental Network.
Cong said the College also scored points for their diversity and affordability efforts, by recruiting more Indigenous students and staff, as part of Fanshawe’s 2018- 2021 Indigenous Action Plan and offering fresh produce at both the London and Downtown campuses.
Although she’s proud of the Gold STARS rating, Cong would like to see even more commitment to sustainability by reducing food waste, using recycled paper, and increasing the number of energy-efficient appliances on campus.
“We’ve actually been doing a great job,” she said. “But there are many things right now we can do too.”
Cong added that since there are many concerns for the environment, she wants everyone part of the College to know “that we’ve been doing a great job and that we’ve accomplished a lot”. She also wants to encourage the community to think of more ways to build sustainability.
“We can build a sustainable culture,” she said. “Let’s make recycling a norm. Let’s make putting coffee cups in the compost bin a norm and let’s encourage each other on doing that.”
Kalila Scott, the outgoing vice president of EnviroFanshawe and a second year environmental technology student, said that she’s happy to hear about Fanshawe’s gold star for sustainability, and that she’s becoming aware of the College’s eco-friendly efforts.
“A lot of my classes were out by where they were doing renovations like putting in more solar panels and solar walls,” she said. “So it feels good to be part of a school and a community that is working every day to move forward and promote eco-friendly [lifestyles], just implementing things that will help.”
Moving forward, Scott would like to see more sustainability awareness to educate the students.
She also said she just found out that Fanshawe’s bookstore offers a recycling station for pencils, electronics, and pens.
“Every time I ran out of pen, I didn’t know what to do with it,” Scott said. “And I would just throw it in the garbage and just small things like that, it’s all about awareness.”