Quality and Productivity Database

Descriptive Title of Proposal: Incorporating Sustainability into University Governance: Sustainability Strategy 2016-2018
Year Submitted 2017
Person(s) Responsible for the Idea
Name / Nom Title / Titre
Andrew Konowalchuk Associate Vice-President (Administration)
Ian Hall Director, Office of Sustainability
Name of Institution University of Manitoba
Office Address 55 Chancellor's Circle
Rm. 501 Fitzgerald Building
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N2
Map It
Telephone: (204) 474-6121
Email Address: Email hidden; Javascript is required.
Name (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Leanne Shewchuk
Title (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Director, Office of Sustainability
Office Address 55 Chancellor's Circle
Rm. 501 Fitzgerald Building
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N2
Map It
Telephone: 1 (204) 474-7995
Email Address: Email hidden; Javascript is required.

The University of Manitoba’s Sustainability Policy outlines a commitment to excellence and leadership based on a strategy of broad engagement and integrated planning across the entire University community. In response to the Policy, the Sustainability Committee and the Office of Sustainability undertook broad engagement to identify priorities for the University. Based on the results, the Board of Governors adopted the Sustainability Strategy 2016-2018, providing direction for the University of Manitoba through a collection of goals, objectives, and actions.

In alignment with the University’s overall strategic priorities, the Strategy identifies 70 actions related to resource conservation and efficiency; transportation and accessibility, ecology and environment, land use, climate, and campus life. These actions touch on all aspects of University programs, operations and community. A robust set of sustainability performance indicators is also included to enable the tracking of impacts and overall progress. Collectively, these actions create new opportunities for students, help the university forge new and unique partnerships with industry, deliver social benefits for the wider community, affirm and maintains the university’s position as a school and an ‘Employer of Choice’, and contribute to the sustainable financial management and organizational efficiency of the University. The primary method of tracking implementation of the Strategy are annual Sustainability Reports prepared by the Office of Sustainability and reported to the Board of Governors and broadly within the University community.

Integrating sustainability into the governance structure of the University through the Strategy and reporting metrics, creates several important outcomes. Objectives, targets and key deliverables have been discussed and agreed to at the highest level and thus initiatives can move forward in a timely fashion. With the Strategy presenting a university-wide implementation plan, multiple parties are empowered to tackle the various targets resulting in cross-departmental partnerships and multiple initiatives happening simultaneously. Furthermore, with the progress of the Strategy being monitored by the Board of Governors, sustainability status of the university is being considered alongside more traditional metrics such as financial, thereby creating the opportunity for more balanced and holistic decision-making.

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

The foundation of the Sustainability Strategy document is a concise business management tool that can be easily transferred to institutions who share similar sustainability goals. It requires a commitment to engage with University community members to create tangible actions attached to accountability and advancing a sustainable campus vision. Integrating high-level planning documents and policies is a primary step that other universities could follow to facilitate endorsement from University administration. The creation of sustainability performance metrics directly connected to the strategy using a triple bottom line (social, environmental, and economic) as opposed to a traditional financial bottom line further highlights the impact of strategy actions and solidifies political will. The STARS framework provided by is a tracking program with a universal measurement system that many other institutions are currently using.

Quality Impact

The expected outcome of integrating sustainability into the governance of the university through the Sustainability Strategy is the achievement of sustainable actions across the University of Manitoba campus. By formalizing the Strategy, resources have been mobilized and allocated effectively, often through resource sharing and partnerships, to address these prioritized actions. Since January 2016, the Office of Sustainability has collaborated with University administration, faculty and students to achieve successes in each of the Strategy’s six categories. Examples include:


Resource conservation and efficiency:

  • A pilot occupancy-driven energy management system was initiated through the Commercial Building Optimization Program (CBOP) mechanism for Max Bell Centre and Engineering and Information Technology Complex. This program will reduce energy inefficiencies in these two buildings and help drive future energy management in other campus buildings.
  • In building on an already robust waste management diversion program, a waste audit was organized as a first step to implementing a campus-wide compost system.


Transportation and accessibility:

  • Funding to hire a Transportation Planner was secured in the summer of 2016, to plan and implement a sustainable transportation strategy, and improve upon existing resources pertaining to sustainable transportation modes and practices.
  • Transportation demand surveys will now take place bi-annually.
  • A Sustainable Transportation Strategy was developed and is on track to be finalized in the spring of 2017.
  • To support biking at all times of year, a Bike Parking Strategy was developed and more user and climate-friendly bike racks were installed.
  • The planning for a Bike Kiosk and Cycle Plaza has been completed with construction to; which runs along the Trans-Canada Trail will commence in 2017.
  • Continued efforts to expanded carpool parking options, electric vehicle charging/parking programs, and bike and car share programs will be pursued for 2017.


Ecology and Environment:

  • Funding for a new project coordinator was allocated in the fall of 2016 to manage the collection of vegetation, rainwater, and biodiversity baseline data.
  • Pesticide free status was achieved for the main campus.
  • Reduction of potable water use by more than double the Strategy’s target.


Land Use:

  • A new development and planning process was implemented that aligns with campus master plans and supports University priorities.



  • Significant building energy improvements have been identified, with many implemented.
  • The engagement process for a Climate Action Plan and the first stages of an emissions inventory are underway.


Campus Life:

  • A Sustainability Research in Action - Living Lab program has been established to connect students to applied sustainability projects on campus for course credit or volunteer hours.
  • A Green Office program has been developed and implemented in several offices across campus a guide to incorporate green office practices into day to day operations.
Productivity Impact

Sustainability performance metrics are assessed annually and have been tailored to meet the objectives and goals of the Sustainability Strategy. As shown in the attached report, there have been substantive resource use reductions in both energy and water. All metrics are measured against an available baseline and previous measurement years to provide an annual trend percentage. These values are then compared against the metric targets as stated in the Strategy.

The primary method of tracking implementation of the Strategy are annual Sustainability Reports prepared by the Office of Sustainability and reported to the Board of Governors and broadly within the university community. In addition, progress is benchmarked against other universities through the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS). Near the end of the planning horizon (i.e. the 2018/19 academic year), a comprehensive performance review will be undertaken. If fully implemented, the strategy will result in a Gold rating under the STARS 2.1 system.


The University of Manitoba's Sustainability Strategy goes beyond the scope of sustainability plans across Canadian Universities. A comprehensive list of actions spread across six categories address campus priorities and designate offices and departments that are accountable for these actions. The priorities are shared by administration and operational departments as well as the University’s academic community. Board of Governor approval of the Strategy and the actions it outlines provides clear direction enabling the University community to quickly tackle a large number and wide range of sustainability issues, knowing it has the full support of the highest levels of governance. Furthermore, administrative decision-making can become more holistic rather than solely financial since sustainability performance metrics monitored by the Board of Governor’s surpass the scope of standard corporate metrics.


The Strategy intends to activate policies and high-level planning documents by highlighting achievable actions that have been discussed through the campus-wide engagement process. The document is a road map for sustainable action that sets priorities to guide decision-making and implementation in both the short- and long-term. Overall vision and goals are intended to remain fixed within the strategy’s horizon; recognizing that innovation, partnerships and feedback loops will determine, to some extent, the order and structure of strategies applied. This flexible format allows the University to act on target areas quickly as new information and opportunities present themselves and to extend beyond the 2016-2018 timeline.

Supporting Documents