Growing Green – VCC's Vision of a Sustainable Future
The world was a very different place in 1965 when Vancouver Community College first opened its doors: Grouse Mountain SkyRide had just hosted its opening season, the now familiar red-and-white maple leaf Canadian flag was flown over Vancouver City Hall for the first time and Neil Armstrong had yet to land on the moon enabling us to see our beautiful blue planet hanging in space.
At VCC, our thinking about the environment has grown and changed along with our view of the world. Fifty years ago, it seemed impossible that humans could change planetary ecosystems and even the atmosphere itself. But just as VCC strives to help students change their lives, we also are working hard to reduce our impact on the environment and ensure that our students are prepared to play a leading role in the transformation to a green economy.
Our vision is that our approach to environmental sustainability will be a key reason we are an educational institution of choice.
VCC has the largest Green Circle Salon in Canada, recycling and reusing chemicals, hair foils and hair from our 100-seat Salon and Spa. We have a waste diversion rate of over 80 per cent, and our culinary and baking and pastry arts students ensure over 40 tonnes of organics are diverted from the landfill and turned into high quality compost every month. That’s the equivalent of five and half full-grown African elephants.
Over the past five years, our water consumption has decreased by 36 per cent, enough to fill over 715,000 bathtubs! In 2012, we worked with the Student Union to ban the sale of bottled water on campus and to date, have filled over 565,000 reusable water bottles which, if laid end-to-end, would stretch close to 113 kilometres.
We are also doing our part to conserve energy by retrofitting lighting; upgrading equipment and making sure lights are turned off when classrooms and offices are empty. In 2010, we set a target to reduce our energy consumption by 20 per cent by 2017 and, so far, we have achieved an incredible 18 per cent reduction. That’s enough electricity to power 289 homes every year. And, 2010 marked the year VCC became a carbon neutral institution, committing to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions (22 per cent so far!) and purchasing made-in-BC offsets to take responsibility for the rest.
But just as things have changed since 1965 we know that we need to continue to look ahead to the future and identify the part that we can play in achieving sustainability. Led by the campus Environment and Sustainability Advisory Group, our vision is that our approach to environmental sustainability will be a key reason we are an educational institution of choice. Over the next ten years we will advance towards zero—and in some cases restorative—environmental impact. We will be a green community hub, catalyst and partner. Our students will graduate with the competencies, connections, and inspiration to play a leadership role in the region’s transformation to sustainability.
For the past 50 years, VCC has played a strong role in the economic and social development of Vancouver and the region. Over the next 50 years, we will continue to be vital part of our city, enabling students to change their lives and leaving a healthy planet for the future generations to come.
Environment and Sustainability, VCC