In 2018, U of T made a commitment to cut its carbon footprint to 37 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030 – even though its three campuses have undergone (and will continue to see) significant growth. The majority of the planned reduction will come in the next five years from projects undertaken by the University to reduce it’s carbon footprint.
The effort is one of six “Campus as a Living Lab” projects being undertaken at U of T. The idea behind them, says Robinson, is to involve students and faculty in testing new sustainability programs. Other activities include evaluating the comfort and environmental performance of the Daniels Building at One Spadina Crescent, and examining how U of T’s guide for running sustainable events could be made more useful, and more widely used, across the university. In the future, a vertical farm slated to open at U of T Scarborough in 2023 will serve as an interactive lab for students and could even provide food for the community.
“This is a massive opportunity for the university to engage with problems in ways that are helpful to society but also incredibly helpful and popular with our students,” says Robinson. The goal is to have a thousand students a year working on Campus as a Living Lab projects, he adds. “That’s where we want to get to – where all new projects are deeply sustainable and they have a research and teaching dimension. We’re just starting this process.”