Quality and Productivity Database

Descriptive Title of Proposal: The number of start-up companies involved through this partnership year to date is fi ve. Four of which are now
Year Submitted 2016
Person(s) Responsible for the Idea
Name Title
Dan Maclachlan Director of Design, Engineering, Construction
Name of Institution University of Guelph
Office Address 50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1
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Telephone: 519-824-4120 ext. 52114
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Name (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Don O'Leary
Title (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Vice President of Finance, Admin & Risk
Office Address 50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1
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Telephone: 519-824-4120 ext 53841
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The University of Guelph is proud of its history of building, maintaining and operating the best possible campus for our community to live, learn and grow. This includes a focus on resource use in an effort to reduce expenditures, carbon emissions and water usage.

In 2001 the student population became interested in global sustainability and wanted to take effective action on their campus. Encouraged by their positive working relationships with physical resource personnel and administration, the students made the unprecedented decision to each make a $20 yearly contribution to be used for energy conservation retrofit projects. Supporting this, the University committed to matching the student contributions. This new funding mechanism is called the Student Energy Retrofit Fund (SERF). The agreement between the students and the University called for the creation of the Energy Conservation Working Group – a team of goal-orientated student stakeholders and key University decision makers whose mandate was to collaborate and determine which sustainability and campus energy improvement projects would be allocated SERF funding.

Now, 10 years into this unique arrangement, we are able to set increasingly ambitious goals to improve our University Sustainability Plan – and it all started with students dedicated to the cause of global sustainability and a team of administration personnel who opened up the campus sustainability dialog and engaged our students.

This funding and engagement process serves as a model for how students, campus citizens, physical resources and administration can work together to make tangible impacts on campus sustainability and energy/resource usage.

Recently, this unique partnership played a vital funding role in the creation of our current energy project – “The Green Gryphon Initiative” – a $26.2 million investment in sustainability and energy improvements. The project includes many innovative and challenging measures – including a chilled water Thermal Energy Storage system - one of the largest utilities projects ever undertaken at the University. www.greengryphon.ca

Criteria Please submit one paragraph describing how the proposal fulfills each of the evaluation criteria.

Applicability to other institutions:

Student involvement in campus energy initiatives can easily be applied at any institution. This comes at an opportune time as growing interest from students to participate in affecting climate change and energy efficiency presents an opportunity that other Universities could embrace.

Transferable Features

  • Student funding for energy initiatives – administered as a separate fund. At the University of Guelph this was introduced as part of the student fees. Funds collected were allocated to the “Student Energy Retrofit Fund” or “SERF”.
  • Energy Conservation Working Group - consisting of Administration and student stakeholder representatives. .
  • Campus Community Engagement - through social media, special events and student working group.

Possible Steps to Facilitate Transferability

  • Formation of an Energy Conservation Working Group – to guide the implementation steps.
  • Campus Survey – to establish interest to contribute a dedicated student fee to support a more sustainable, energy-efficient campus.
  • Student Referendum – to formalize the funding agreement.
  • Energy Conservation Working Group - administering fund and developing energy initiatives.
Quality Impact

The expected outcomes, associated results, and how results were measured are described below.

Improvement to the Student Experience - the initiative was shown to be an effective vehicle for student participation that impacts real change to campus sustainability. The initiative provides a positive learning experience for students through the ECWG and various engagement events. Student surveys over the period clearly demonstrate satisfaction with the ECWG, how their SERF dollars are administered and ultimately their ability to make a difference.

Efficiency in delivering Building Services – increased occupant comfort as a result of improvements to outdated building systems. For example - improved building lighting levels and temperature control were demonstrated through before and after measurements. In addition, maintenance service calls associated with these systems have decreased.

Efficiency in Providing a High Quality Learning Environment - the cost savings realized through energy and utility conservation efforts is being used to support the core education and research mission of the University. Energy performance results since the start of the initiative and measured over a five year period between 2008 and 2013 resulted in utility cost avoidance of over $10M. As the price of utilities continues to increase the cost avoidance will increase.

Productivity Impact

Quantitative Impact of this initiative:

2008 to 2013 Reductions under the Student Engaged Campus Sustainability Initiative

After the introduction of:

· Student Energy Retrofit Fund

· Energy Conservation Working Group


Utility Cost Avoidance


Water Usage Savings

Emission Reduction


526,782 m3

5,929eCO2 tonnes

16% Savings

42% Savings

8% Savings

(Annual Average for the period)

(Annual Average for the period)

(Annual Average for the period)

Referenced to a 2002/2003 Baseline.


Comparison to:

2003 to 2007 Reductions associated with Energy and Water Retrofit Projects


Utility Cost Avoidance


Water Usage Savings

Emission Reduction


92,036 m3

1,115 eCO2 tonnes

3% Savings

9% Savings

1% Savings

(Annual Average for the period)

(Annual Average for the period)

(Annual Average for the period)

Referenced to a 2002/2003 Baseline


Looking Ahead:

2014 and beyond The Green Gryphon Initiative

With an increasingly engaged student stakeholder group the University of Guelph has set even greater campus sustainability targets under the next phase project - the Green Gryphon Initiative, the most ambitious sustainability project to date for the University.

Learn more at www.GreenGryphon.ca



What’s Innovative?

  • The Student Energy Retrofit Fund - this innovative funding mechanism provides the opportunity for Administration and Students to collaboratively develop and participate in an approach to energy conservation. This yields improvement in the energy performance of a University and enhances its reputation as a leader in sustainability and student engagement. This funding partnership has been applauded by a number of high ranking Ontario officials including: Peter Love – former Ontario Chief Energy Conservation Officer, Chris Bentley – former Minister of Energy and most recently Glen Murray – Minister of Environment and Change.
  • The Energy Conservation Working Group - ECWG is a unique forum where Students and Administration work together to plan and guide improvements to campus energy use and sustainability.

Why is this Initiative Different?

This approach stands out by harnessing student enthusiasm and support to amplify the University’s energy conservation commitment. For example, student engagement was critical to the implementation of numerous energy retrofit projects and ultimately the Green Gryphon Initiative, the most ambitious sustainability project to date for the University.