GUPES Green Gown Awards 2016 North America The University of British Columbia Winner

Tags: sustainability | International | GUPES Green Gown Awards | Canada | student engagement | The University of British Columbia

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SEEDS Sustainability Program

Over the past 16 years, UBC’s SEEDS (Social Ecological Economic Development Studies) Sustainability Program engaged over 6,000 students, faculty and staff on hundreds of Campuses as Living Lab sustainability projects, resulting in over 1,200 publicly-accessible research reports.

Facilitating collaborations across operational and academic units, the program develops student career capital through experiential learning, while contributing to the implementation of operational sustainability plans. Notable projects include:
1. Sustainable food efforts, including community garden guidelines; creating over eight campus food gardens and a farm-to-institution partnership ensuring local food procurement;
2. Launching of a $1 million Sustainability Revolving Fund that provides loans for energy and water-saving projects;
3. Social sustainability initiatives, including creative public realm installations around concepts of identity, refuge and home, based on interviews with UBC students who arrived in Canada as political refugees.

Top 3 learnings

1. Invite all stakeholders to the table: Our students’ sustainability projects proved to be an excellent opportunity to reach across institutional silos to forge new partnerships that advance our community sustainability goals.
2. Even the big projects start small - project management is critical: Our incremental radicalism approach ensures we iteratively build on previous projects and leverage collective institutional memory.
3. Early engagement and active involvement is key: we connect with members of community early on to scope the project, foster positive relationships, and incorporate a participatory action research approach that helps us co-create tangible results.

What it means to win

“Winning a GUPES Green Gown Award helps demonstrate UBC’s ongoing commitment and leadership in sustainability by spotlighting our SEEDS program on a global scale. This is a humbling recognition which will only strengthen our commitment to continue sharing our model and build partnerships with other institutions around the world.”

Michael White, Associate Vice-President, Campus + Community Planning, The University of British Columbia

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