Oct. 27, 2021

University leads local change for global impact: 2021 Institutional Sustainability Report released today

UCalgary uses bold approaches to spark a sustainable world

From creating pop-up homeless shelters during the pandemic to designing sustainable, culturally appropriate affordable housing, the University of Calgary is reshaping our community locally to create a more sustainable future for all, according to the 2021 Institutional Sustainability Report released today.  
Bold strides within the university show sustainability innovation can flourish anywhere.

“Through entrepreneurial thinking, innovative research approaches, and hands-on learning, the University of Calgary is committed to inspiring sustainability leaders ready to make a truly global impact. Our Institutional Sustainability Strategy (ISS) is a road map for making the world a better place for all. This year’s report highlights the extraordinary progress is already taking place. And this is only the beginning,” says Dr. Teri Balser, provost and vice-president (academic). 

For UCalgary, sustainability isn’t confined to protecting the environment. It’s also about building a world where everyone can thrive. Creating sustainable cities and communities, promoting gender equality, ending poverty, and enabling good jobs and economic growth — the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals align with the university’s vision for supporting a thriving Calgary.   

Inspiring action 

Providing meaningful real-world experiences for students to engage in sustainability practices is fostering the next generation of leaders.

A group of students created the Sustainable Development Goals Alliance (SDGA) to support community-centred initiatives and amplify youth voices and action toward building a more sustainable world. The SDGA is a student-run organization comprised of student clubs who collaborate to solve sustainability issues on local and global levels, and the group represents the diversity of students interested in sustainability on campus.   

“Sustainability impacts all of us,” says medical student Tyler Warnock, who is also a founding member of the SDGA. “As students and youth there is a unique connection that many of us have to this work — the actions we collectively take now will impact our livelihoods and collective prosperity in the future.” 

Progressive research approaches 

Research excellence is sparking new approaches to support social, economic, and environmental change. As a global intellectual hub in Canada's most enterprising city, the University of Calgary fosters a rich environment for transdisciplinary sustainability research. These diverse bodies of work are contributing to enhancing various aspects of sustainability, which are highlighted throughout the report. Some include:   

  • UCalgary researchers have advised on a National Action Plan to end gender-based violence and gender equality in the Arctic. 
  • Teams have launched research on Canada’s changing mountain systems based on western scientific and Indigenous knowledge systems to find new ways to protect the natural world through ecosystem restoration.
  • Academics are exploring linkages between economic and social development, power relations and justice issues in our society.  

The world is watching 

In 2021, UCalgary was ranked among the top five per cent globally for a second year in a row by the Times Higher Education for progress in advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This ranking assesses the sustainability commitment of universities at institutional, local, national, regional, and global levels. More than 1,100 institutions were evaluated in the 2021 ranking.  

UCalgary was also ranked 28th out of 328 North American institutions by Sierra Cool Schools for their environmental commitments and demonstrated action. This is the fifth consecutive year UCalgary has been named a Cool School.  

And the University of Calgary was named to Princeton Review’s 2022 Green College Honor Roll, which recognizes the top 30 schools in North America from among close to 700 institutions.

Sustainability annual report 

There are plenty of reasons UCalgary continues to rank highly.  

  • Nearly 17,000 students have engaged in one or more sustainability-related courses in the past year.  
  • Fifty-four sustainability-related startups have been launched.  
  • Approximately 20 per cent of researchers in over 80 per cent of UCalgary departments are conducting sustainability-related research.  
  • UCalgary was named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for the sixth consecutive year. 
  • UCalgary has reduced its GHG emissions 39 per cent since 2008. 
  • UCalgary has reduced water consumption 44 per cent since 2008. 

Check out the report highlights video

See the 2021 Sustainability report here.

The release of this report is also aligned with the annual Sustainability Week at UCalgary, which encompasses a week of events to bring the UCalgary community together for discussions on various sustainability topics. See the full list of offerings.

About the Institutional Sustainability Strategy  

The University of Calgary’s Institutional Sustainability Strategy provides a road map for continuous improvement in our pursuit of excellence and leadership in sustainability. We aim to be a Canadian post-secondary education leader in sustainability in our academic and engagement programs, administrative and operational practices, and through supporting community and industry in their aims for leadership in sustainability. Learn more about UCalgary’s leadership in sustainability.