Intro to Sustainability at Durham College

By Brennan Amofah

When the environmental movement roared through Ontario in the late 1980s and 1990s, only a few bright minds in academia realized some of these issues were here to stay. Intuitively, Durham College (DC) jumped ahead of the trend and hired some of these people to contribute towards the creation of DC’s environmentally friendly programs (e.g., Ross Stevenson, former Federal and Provincial MP) such as the Renewable Energy Technician, Water Quality Technician and Environmental Technology programs.

These programs provide graduates with the necessary skills and knowledge to manage and combat changes in our natural environment and climate. Although many post-secondary institutions in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) have programs that specialize in increasing environmental awareness, DC has set the foundation to become a leader among post-secondary schools in Ontario aiming to become more energy efficient, lower their greenhouse gas emissions and reduce more waste all together.

Currently, DC has an energy use intensity (EUI) of 1.54 gigajoules per square-metre annually. This EUI is above the benchmark average for colleges in Ontario, indicating that better energy performance is attainable. A goal of reducing facility energy consumption by 10 per cent and achieving an EUI of 1.40 gigajoules per square-mile has been set, with energy savings being targeted in the following areas with an estimate savings of $562,000:

  • Pneumatic conversions/DDC upgrades
  • Advanced lighting controls
  • Building commissioning
  • Equipment renewal and reconfiguration

The Sustainability and Green Team has set out some bold goals for the 2014-2015 school year. With the waste reduction strategy about to kick off, Tanya Roberts, sustainability co-ordinator, and her volunteer/placement students are preparing to showcase DC’s ability to be a leader in reducing all types of waste. Green team members will not only focus on the waste created from everyday student activities, but also on opportunities to support capacity surrounding batteries and electronic waste (e-waste), an emerging area of concern for developed countries like Canada.

Aside from these upcoming planned initiatives, the Green Team has been actively engaging its members behind-the-scenes. Whether conducting audits on the college’s printer systems or brainstorming concepts to encourage student participation, the Green Team is building momentum and is always looking for new volunteers to contribute. If interested please contact Tanya Roberts @