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Canada: Destination Guides

Canada's top green universities

The environment and its sustainability is a top priority for many universities in Canada. We take a look at some that are really leading the way.

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Many countries all over the world have made steps towards a more sustainable future. Few have truly led the way as much as Canada. Living in the second largest country in the world, Canadians understand the importance of looking after the environment and protecting the planet.  


While, like most countries, they have a long way to go, Canada is making some important changes and encouraging others to do so. Among the institutions and businesses in Canada that are making a difference, some of the universities there are also going above and beyond for the planet.  


All of these universities were rated highly in the ‘climate action’ and 'sustainable cities and communities' measures of The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings (THE). The 'climate action' measure focuses on:   

“a university's research on climate change, their use of energy and their preparations for dealing with the consequences of climate change”.  

THE Impact Rankings are evaluated using the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. Universities are judged by their performance against these goals, showing their commitment to a greener future.  


Here’s a look at just a few of the greenest universities in Canada: 


THE Climate Action ranking: 13th in Canada 


Situated in Edmonton, the University of Alberta attracts students from all over Canada, and all over the world, with the courses that they offer.  


The university has had sustainability on the agenda for a while now, keeping its title of one of Canada’s greenest employers. Of all the changes the university has made, from majorly reducing the amount of its waste that ends up in landfill to maintaining a one-acre urban farm, their certificate in sustainability is definitely one of the best. 


With this, the University of Alberta encourages their students to include sustainability and environmental studies in their current degree. This could be any course a student is currently on that focuses on this topic in some way. By doing this, students at the university generate a much bigger conversation on sustainability from a number of different angles. 


THE Climate Action ranking: 12th in Canada 


Much further East, in the province of Ontario, is the University of Ottawa. Home to over 40,000 students, with over one tenth of those being from one of 150 countries, the university takes the future of the students there very seriously. 


Knowing that greener changes start at home, those at the University of Ottawa set up the Office of Campus Sustainability which “strives to have sustainability integrated into daily life on campus in as many ways as possible, big and small — from taking notes on scrap paper to designing more energy-efficient campus facilities.” 


One of the biggest moves towards a greener way of working by the university is through the food they provide staff and students. Understanding that food has a big impact on the planet, the university lets students know more about the food they can buy and gives them a variety of options.  


Whether that’s local produce or plant-based alternatives, the food available there represents how the university and students feel about the planet.  



THE Climate Action ranking: 9th in Canada 


Western University made it into the top 10 in Canada for climate action Times Higher Education Impact Rankings but made it into the top 3 in the world in sustainability overall.  


No one change made this possible for Western University, as it was their commitment to sustainability in every aspect of their business that took them to the top. The university have their Friends of Gardens, a group of Western University students and staff dedicated to looking after the natural spaces around them.  


Alongside this, their Waste and Recycling Portal “is available to all Western staff, students and faculty who are looking for pick-up on any waste and recycling.” 


A popular postgraduate course at Western University is their Masters of Environment and Sustainability. In this course, students can learn more about taking care of the planet and how to work towards a much greener future. Offering subjects and degrees like this is just another way in which Western University is educating its students on protecting the environment. 



THE Climate Action ranking: 18th in Canada 


Sustainability has been on the radar for Brock University for over a decade and they have a lot to be proud of. The university focuses on environmental issues that surround students, focussing a lot on the sort of waste that can be found in a university environment. 


There would be over 4 million more plastic water bottles in landfill and over 650kg of electronic waste, if it wasn’t for Brock University. It’s not just tech and plastic that students may use a lot of, which is why the university puts a lot of energy into re-using furniture. 


During their time at university, students may find themselves moving around a number of times. With this comes the need to either buy new furniture or throw out the pieces that they no longer need. Brock University’s Furniture Redeployment Program aims to “promote reuse behaviour through the redistribution of used furniture instead of sending it to the landfill.” 


The university has also set up their Environmental Sustainability Research Centre which focuses on research that will help protect their local environment and that of the whole planet. 


THE Climate Action ranking: 19th in Canada 


Many of the university campuses across Canada find themselves in beautiful locations and the University of Regina is certainly one of them. Located right next to the stunning Wascana lake, in the heart of Saskatchewan, it’s this location that reminds those at the university of the natural world every single day.  


The University of Regina deals with issues that the staff and students experience and always looks for the most sustainable solution. Understanding that the location of the university meant many students had to travel by car each day, those at the university set out to provide as many options as possible. From encouraging carpooling, where students share cars instead of driving individually, by offering certain parking spaces to providing an affordable bus pass, they are dealing with this issue directly.  


Of all the changes they’ve made, setting up the Regina Public Interest Research Group was certainly one of the biggest. This group is a “student funded resource centre at the University of Regina committed to social and environmental justice” and mirrors the universities overall outlook towards creating a greener, and more equal, world where possible. 


If you’re a student with a passion for the planet and want to attend a university that shares this with you, Canada might be the right location for you. It’s a popular study destination for international students and has so much to offer.  


Considering studying in Canada? Our other article tells you all you need to know about how to apply for a student visa in Canada. 

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