When Lindsay Walker started her career as a civil engineer, she knew she didn’t want to build things, because, as she puts it, “There are enough people doing that already.”
Instead, Humber’s first-ever sustainability manager wanted to help minimize the environmental impact of things as they were being created and used – and discovered along the way that encouraging environmentalism takes a practical approach.
“Sustainability is a combination of social, environmental, and business factors,” Walker explains. “All three of those things have to work together, or you’re not going to achieve the goals you set.”
Walker has goals for Humber. She’s looking at getting the school recognized through the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), which offers LEED-type certification designed specifically for postsecondary institutions. She’s also exploring ways to improve communication within the college community about sustainability issues like energy use and waste reduction.
Walker says there are a lot of things Humber’s been doing well.
For instance, the school has one of the most efficient chiller plants in the country, saving the college over $100,000 in electricity costs every year. The Centre for Urban Ecology, located in the North Campus’s Arboretum, is LEED-certified gold. There’s a green roof at the Lakeshore Campus.
And, maybe best of all, although Humber’s enrolment has risen by 20 percent since 2005, our energy and water consumption have both decreased significantly.
With this good foundation in place, Walker says she’d now like to get back to basics – working on something as simple as recycling.
“Because of my background, I’m particularly sensitive to that area,” laughs Walker. “I find that the waste bins are jam-packed and overflowing with stuff that could be recycled. I’ll bet all of us manage to recycle at home – and I think we could probably do a better job of recycling here.”
As a first step, Walker and her team of sustainability volunteers are in the middle of a campaign to recycle used cellphones and other small electronics. Students and staff can drop off their digital discards in boxes outside the HSF offices at both the Lakeshore and North campuses.