Stories

Creating a more sustainable Mount Royal

Before coming to Mount Royal, University President David Docherty lived in a community that introduced green composting bins — and he still remembers the outcry.

“People railed against them but then, after a while, you kind of get used to composting,” he says.

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Made up of a diverse group of students, faculty and staff, the President's Task Force on Sustainability is charged with exploring ways to move environmental sustainability forward at Mount Royal in a coordinated, efficient and cost-effective way.

“In our household, we went from two big green garbage bags a week to half of one, and that was a very startling at-home reminder that just a little change in behaviour can make a heck of a difference.”

It was an empowering experience, and one that played a role in Docherty’s creation of a new President’s Task Force on Sustainability.

A diverse perspective

Made up of a diverse group of students, faculty and staff, the Task Force is charged with exploring ways to move environmental sustainability forward at Mount Royal in a coordinated, efficient and cost-effective way.

“For better or worse, Mount Royal is a commuter campus. We’re not on the LRT, which means that our footprint is a little bit bigger,” Docherty says.

“So are there ways that we can make up for that by changing our culture on campus and reducing our environmental footprint?”

Docherty has appointed Randy Genereux, PhD, associate vice-president, Academic, and Mike Reed, associate vice-president, Business and Retail Services, as co-chairs of the Task Force.

The other 19 members of the Task Force (see the sidebar) were chosen for the expertise or formal education they bring to issues of environmental sustainability and many are accountable for some aspect of environmental sustainability on campus.

“A lot of faculty, students and staff across campus are concerned about the environment and concerned about sustainability, and my hope is that the Task Force will provide a forum for Mount Royal to move forward,” Docherty says.

“If the Task Force comes up with recommendations that could save the campus money, that would be ideal, particularly right now. But, in many ways, that’s secondary to looking at how we can change our habits and reduce our environmental footprint.”

Since it was struck early in 2013, the Task Force has been working to identify green initiatives already in place at Mount Royal and to research environmental sustainability models at other universities.

Looking for areas of improvement

As they identify gaps and areas for improvement, the Task Force is also asking for input from the campus community. On Thursday, March 21, the Task Force will be on Main Street between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to collect ideas for making Mount Royal more environmentally sustainable. Students, faculty and staff can also join the conversation on Twitter at #MRUGreen starting at 11 a.m. on March 21. Or, people can fill out a quick online survey that will be available at mtroyal.ca/MRUGreen between March 21 and March 28.

“When I see people working out in Recreation or eating healthy, I see that Mount Royal has a campus full of people who take healthy lifestyles very seriously, and that’s a long-term commitment,” Docherty says.

President’s Task Force on Sustainability
  • Harold Berry Supply Chain Services
  • Robert Boschman Department of English
  • Nancy Cope University Advancement — Marketing and Communications
  • Terry Dowsett Continuing Education and Extension, Sustainable MRU
  • Stefan Durston Parking and Transportation Services
  • Helen Evans Warren Department of Interior Design
  • Steve Fitterer Residence Services
  • Diana Fletcher Department of Environmental Science, Sustainable MRU
  • Randy Genereux Co-Chair; Division of Academic Affairs
  • Mario Jean Residence Student Representative
  • Roberta Lexier Department of General Education
  • Brent Mann Sodexo/Food Services, Sustainable MRU
  • Kim McKellar Physical Resources
  • Kaylene McTavish President, SAMRU
  • Gwen O’Sullivan Department of Environmental Science
  • Mike Quinn Institute for Environmental Sustainability
  • Mike Reed Co-Chair; Business & Retail Services
  • Katie Robart Student at Large; volunteer with SAMRU Sustainability Centre
  • Shereen Samuels SAMRU, Sustainable MRU
     

“I think the Task Force on Sustainability is part of that. We’re looking at the long-term health of the campus and making sure we’re not harming the environment. We want to make this campus a place people want to come to in the long run.”

And Docherty says that long-term view is vital, even while Mount Royal is facing immediate financial challenges brought on by the March 7 provincial budget.

“Those budget challenges may tend to focus our thoughts on a particular short-term area, but I don’t want that preventing us from also thinking about the long term,” Docherty says.

“I encourage people to take 10 or 15 minutes out of your day on March 21 to share your ideas for environmental sustainability with the Task Force.”

The President’s Task Force on Sustainability will present its recommendations to Docherty in October 2013.

— Nancy Cope, March 14, 2013