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Photo: Marpeck Commons, the newest building at CMU. Photo provided by CMU.
Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, Manitoba, has announced that the university is now Climate Smart certified. This certification marks a significant milestone in CMU’s effort to address its role in climate change and sets the university on a path towards continuous improvement in the stewardship of resources, people and planet.
Climate Smart certification is based on a quantified commitment to greenhouse gas emissions reduction, reflecting standardized measurements of sustainability discerned at a global scale. Climate Smart is a social enterprise based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
To become certified, CMU was required to identify and measure its overall greenhouse gas emissions footprint and, based on that data, develop an action plan with emission reduction strategies in the areas of heating, transportation and electricity over the coming period.
CMU’s pursuit of this designation began in 2018, initiated first by James Magnus-Johnson of the CMU Centre for Resilience, and brought to fruition this year by Julene Sawatzky, campus planning and facilities development manager.
“Climate change is such a monstrous issue, but understanding the part we play as an institution allows for informed, constructive decision-making so that we can be part of the solution,” Sawatzky says.
To determine CMU’s baseline greenhouse gas emissions rate, the university had to calculate annual emissions from a wide spectrum of sources: energy (utilities like lights, heat and computers), fuel, waste (everything from paper to kitchen scraps), and other sources.
“Determining CMU’s baseline emissions has provided a way for us to think critically about everything we do, from day to day operations to large capital projects,” Sawatzky says. “Two particular areas of impact this process revealed were how we heat our buildings and modes of travel—whether that travel was to and from work, or for official programming. This has led to new discussions and opportunities to build meaningful reduction plans moving into the future.”
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