Sustainability Assessments at UVic

Measuring Sustainability at the University of Victoria

VIPIRG and the University of Victoria Sustainability Project (UVSP) undertook a large, year long project to measure the sustainability of our university. This project has expanded and is now the work of other groups on campus.

The tool being used for this project is the Campus Sustainability Assessment Framework (CSAF). The CSAF is a tool designed to assess indicators of university sustainability and provide a context for the institution to measure its current level of sustainability. The CSAF framework was developed by Lindsay Cole, founder of the UVSP, as part of her masters thesis at Royal Roads University. The Sierra Youth Coalition (SYC) has since adopted CSAF as a basis for assessing and comparing sustainability in educational institutions across Canada. The goal of CSAF is to paint a detailed and holistic picture of the university community and its ecological, social, and economic impacts. It is meant to challenge the university to become a more sustainabile institution.

CSAF has already been conducted at several other universities in Canada including: Concordia, Royal Roads, McGill, New Brunswick, UPEI, and is underway at BCIT, the University of Ottawa, and Queens.

How does the assessment work?

Employing 172 indicators in 10 chapter areas, the CSAF provides a comprehensive picture of sustainability using quantiative and qualitative research. Students, staff, and volunteers collect the data required to measure the indicators. Each indicator sets short-term and long term benchmarks, providing a road-map for action once the project is complete. Once the data has been collected and analyzed, the final report will be published and distributed by the UVSP. The CSAF is meant to be completed several times in order to track the success of the University in achieving the benchmarks set out in the audit.

More concretely, the assessment examines things like UVic’s ecological footprint, land use, governance structure, labour policies, and sense of community. Examples of indicators include the percentage of total energy consumed derived from renewable resources, the volume of pesticides used as a percentage of campus greenspace, the averaage student debt load, and the availability of on-campus housing. The various indicators provide an outline for research, which once complied into a report, can effectively convey a comperhsenive representation of the campus being assessed. As well, each indicator sets a short-term and long-term benchmark, providing a road map for action once the project is complete.

The Sustainability Assessment Coordinator is now working with UVic at the Sustainability office.