A new trades and innovation centre built certified to LEED Gold standards. A new exterior wall that will increase energy efficiency by over 50 per cent. Hydration stations that keep thousands of bottles out of the waste stream. An organic waste system that supports the growth of vegetables for a campus cafeteria.
Thanks to initiatives like these, NSCC has been recertified with a STARS Gold Rating in Sustainability from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. NSCC is the highest scoring college in Canada and top four across post-secondary institutions in the country.
“The STARS Gold rating means we’ve continued to make real improvements in our sustainability efforts in the last three years,” says Michael Chapman, manager of Infrastructure, Sustainability and Space Planning. “While we’re happy to have this recognition, we’re continuing to build on the foundation we’ve created and take every opportunity to become more sustainable.”
Over the past eight years, the college has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 31 per cent, reduced energy consumption by 23 per cent, decreased water consumption by 40 per cent and now, diverts 75 per cent of waste away from landfills. And NSCC has continued to look for ways to increase sustainable practices since its first STARS Gold designation in 2014.
A new three-year sustainability plan aims to further reduce energy and water usage, increase and maintain waste diversion rates, increase energy savings across the college and more. In fact, much of this work has already begun.
For example, the replacement of exterior walls is underway at Lunenburg Campus that will increase energy savings by over 50 per cent. Additionally, the new Trades and Innovation Centre (TIC) at Pictou Campus is designed following LEED Gold building standards. These initiatives allow for more sustainable educational practices in teaching sustainability and providing a sustainable learning environment.
Since the first Gold rating in 2013, NSCC has implemented its first-ever sustainability policy. It has enhanced its sustainable purchasing requirements to consider qualifications such as packaging, durability, and labour and human rights records. And, Chapman notes, everyone at NSCC plays a vital role in building on the STARS designation.
The college would like to achieve a STARS Platinum status, something no post-secondary institution in Canada has managed yet. Meanwhile, Chapman sees this as an opportunity to embed sustainability practices across the College.
“We hope our graduates will become ambassadors of what they’ve learned at NSCC in the labour force," says Chapman. "That will benefit our industry and our economy, while boosting Nova Scotia’s reputation as a world leader in sustainability.”
See more information on the STARS Gold rating here.