The University has adopted a building, renovation and campus grounds management strategy that focuses on design efficiency, target performances, water efficiency, energy conservation, reduction of emissions, material and resource selection, green construction practices, indoor environmental quality and site re-naturalization. In terms of greenspace, York's urban forest contains approximately 97,000 trees, with an estimated value of $60 million. Collectively these trees remove almost 12 metric tonnes of pollutants from the air each year and sequester 32 metric tonnes of carbon.
There are currently a number of initiatives working towards enhancing the sustainability of the built and natural areas at York.
Environmental Design and Sustainability
This initiative is responsible for the planning, development and management of university infrastructure relative to the campus built, natural and human environments ensuring environmental, operational, social, safety and aesthetic objectives of the University are met. For more information, please visit www.yorku.ca/csbo/envirodesign/index.html.
All capital projects at York are subjected to ongoing analysis from the standpoint of sustainability. Projects are conceived giving consideration to sources of material, construction methods, the reduction of energy consumption standards, redirection (recycling) of waste heat sources to building heating, utilization of recycled material (fly ash concrete, asphalt, wood), viability of green roof, efficiencies in building envelope and floor plate, efficiencies in HVAC and lighting systems, use of recycled materials for landscape furniture and benches. Proposals for new developments are examined from the standpoint of maximizing building and operational sustainability, carefully examining the viability for fixed guidelines, such as, but not limited to, LEED Certification.
Several recent infrastructure improvements, including new parking garages, roadconstruction and extensive stormwater management projects, have incorporated sustainability considerations into planning and implementation. For example, parking garages were built using 50% slag concrete and are located on the periphery of the campuses, while transit stops are more centrally located for commuter convenience. New roads have been constructed incorporating storm water management, carefully selected lights that eliminate up lighting, and designated bike lanes. Extensive stormwater management initiatives have alsobeen undertaken. These include the creation of retention ponds, bio swalesinstead ofstorm sewers; the use of porous paving, “stormceptors” in parking lots, and green roofs; and the removal of excessive paved areas with soft ground treatment to allow for water infiltration.
Renovations, small and large scale, have incorporated sustainability measures into planning and design, which in turn, have yielded more sustainable operations. This includes consideration to the reuse of existing buildings, materials, and in the case of new, the use of environmentally friendly sourced materials and supplies. Each renovation brings unique opportunities, and at the same time, all are subject to review from the standpoint of more generally applicable green guidelines, including, but not limited to, the use and distribution of natural light, operable windows, use of low VOC (volatile organic compounds), minimized inflexible interiors (focus on partitions and open concepts for office designs), the use of light sensors and the use of exterior sun shades and canopies to minimize cooling requirements.
The York Research Tower is a LEED Silver certified building, and the Life Sciences Building is also LEED Silver certified. Additionally, the following York buildings, while not certified, meet LEED certification requirements related to sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy, materials/resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation:
- Lassonde Building
- Pond Road Residence
- Seymour Schulich Building
- Technology Enhanced Learning Building
- Sherman Health Sciences and Research Center
- Osgood Hall (expansion)
- York University Stadium
- Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence
Completed in 2001, the Lassonde Building (formerly the Computer Science Building) was one of the first green buildings built in Ontairo, and was awarded the 'Green Building of the Year' by World Architecture Magazine in 2002, along with the Governor General's Medal in Architecture and the Ministry of Natural Resources 'Energy Efficiency Award' for 2002.
Housing Services - Residence Initiatives
Student Housing Services is committed to York’s sustainability principles, and have implemented the following sustainability initiatives to date:
- 230 residence laundry machines replaced with high efficiency units
- Composting initiatives implemented in Passy apartments and suite style residences
- Low flow showerheads installed across campus residences
- All residence faucets have been equipped with aerators
- Incandescent light bulbs replaced with compact flourescent
- Light fixtures have been replaced with higher efficiency florescent lights
- Older appliances are being replaced with Energy Star models
- A battery recycling program has been implemented
In addition, the newest York residence on Pond Road was constructed to green building standards.
The Maloca Community Garden features both individual and communal plots for growing organic foods. The Garden is now in its ninth year and continues to attract gardeners from all walks of life and all levels of experience. The garden is maintained by diverse members of the York community including staff, faculty, alumni, friends, family and local residents. For more information, please visit http://malocagarden.wordpress.com/.
Secondary Plan for Keele
The University is in the process of updating the Secondary Plan for Keele Campus, and is working closely and cooperatively with the City of Toronto to promote a plan that incorporates future public transit and related land development intensification. The Master Plan Update uses three “lenses” to examine the use of academic lands at the University, and each lens has an element of sustainability that focuses on conditions and considerations that influence the physical character of the campus.
Three Lenses for the Master Plan Update:
- Keeping York University Green: the gateways, the Common, the Honour Court, courtyards, natural areas, and the athletic precinct.
- Pedestrians First at York University: the Ring Road, University streets, parking, transit, pedestrian connections, and cycling routes.
- Infilling York University: the location, form, and character of the new buildings, as well as opportunities to intensify existing buildings on campus.
The plan strives for a "net environmental gain" and key natural heritage features and open spaces have been included for protection. In addition, new locations for green corridors and natural heritage restoration have been identified. At the Glendon campus, a stewardship plan for the Don River valley forest area is being implemented in conjunction with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and the City of Toronto. For more information, please visit yudc.ca.
York’s annual Arbour Day plantings typically see dozens of trees and shrubs added to the campus greenspace. These additions are designed to improve water and soil conservation in the wetland areas around Stong Pond, and in other designated greenspace areas across campus. Funding for the Arbour Day plantings are provided by the York University Bookstore, which donates proceeds acquired from the five-cent charge for plastic shopping bags mandated by the City of Toronto.