Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 76.63
Liaison Karen Oberer
Submission Date Dec. 11, 2020

STARS v2.2

McGill University
PA-2: Sustainability Planning

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address sustainability in curriculum and/or research?:

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to academics and the plan(s) in which they are published:

Vision 2020: Climate and Sustainability Action Plan 2017-2020

Research objectives:
- Publish a regular column on sustainability research in McGill’s newsletters or publications [ongoing]
- Host and support networking events to promote sustainability research [ongoing]
- Launch sustainable labs awards program [complete]
- Develop a sustainable labs design process [complete]
- Integrate sustainability information into Welcoming Sessions for new investigators [complete]
- Integrate sustainability information into investigator guides [complete]
- Articulate a small number of McGill research themes in sustainability systems [complete]
- Develop transdisciplinary projects based on the research themes in sustainability systems [ongoing]
- Seed-fund innovative and ambitious sustainability systems projects and ideas [ongoing]
- Develop a “carbon responsibility” program to offset air travel emissions [in progress]
- Quantify and communicate GHG emissions information to University travelers [ongoing]
- Raise awareness of teleconferencing options [ongoing]

Education objectives:
- Embed sustainability in McGill’s Skills 21 program [complete]- Develop a sustainability leadership program [complete]
- Include a campus Sustainability Tour at Orientation [complete; sustainability information included in regular Orientation Tour]
- Increase the number of orientation events that are sustainable-event certified [in progress]
- Incorporate sustainability into orientation training materials [ongoing]
- Create and implement a Sustainability Literacy Test [in progress]
- Collaborate with professors across faculties to include the carbon neutrality challenge in their courses [ongoing]

Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address student, employee, or community engagement for sustainability?:

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to engagement and the plan(s) in which they are published:

Engagement objectives as outlined in the Vision 2020: Climate and Sustainability Action Plan 2017-2020:
- Establish a Sustainable Workplace Certification program [complete]
- Update the McGill Design Standards to improve physical accessibility [in progress]
- Complete an accessibility audit and integrate audit findings into the McGill Map [in progress]
- Launch a Staff Sustainability Network [complete]
- Embed sustainability in the performance dialogue plan and appraisal form of employees [in progress]

Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address sustainability in operations?:

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to operations and the plan(s) in which they are published:

Operations objectives as outlined in the Vision 2020: Climate and Sustainability Action Plan 2017-2020:
- Develop a sustainable Vehicle Management Program [complete]
- Offer training to promote eco-driving techniques [in progress]
- Identify the primary challenges in McGill becoming a zero-waste campus [complete]
- Create a Waste Reduction and Diversion Plan that addresses these specific challenges [complete]
- Attain the LEED Operations & Maintenance certification for 5 buildings [in progress]
- Have all new buildings and most major renovation projects be at least LEED Silver certified [in progress]
- Implement the Energy Management Plan [complete]
- Use the Licensee Code of Conduct for all McGill branded products sold by “Le James” bookstore [completed]
- Expand the use of the Licensee Code of Conduct to other university areas [in progress]

Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address diversity, equity, and inclusion; sustainable investment/finance; or wellbeing?:

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to administration and the plan(s) in which they are published:

Governance objectives as outlined in the Vision 2020: Climate and Sustainability Action Plan 2017-2020:
- Include sustainability-related content in the Board of Governors and Senate orientation material [completed]
- Add sustainability key performance indicators (KPIs) to the Board of Governors' reporting framework [completed]
EDI objectives as outlined in the Vision 2020: Climate and Sustainability Action Plan 2017-2020:
- Recruit an Indigenous scholar or artist-in-residence with the assistance of a representative Steering Committee [in progress]
- Collaborate with campus and Indigenous partners to implement projects around Indigenous symbolism [ongoing]

Does the institution have a published strategic plan or equivalent guiding document that includes sustainability at a high level? :

The institution’s highest guiding document (upload):
Website URL where the institution’s highest guiding document is publicly available:
Which of the following best describes the inclusion of sustainability in the highest guiding document?:
Major theme

The institution's sustainability plan (upload):
Website URL where the institution's sustainability plan is publicly available:
Does the institution have a formal statement in support of sustainability endorsed by its governing body?:

The formal statement in support of sustainability:

Sustainability Policy (2010; rev. 2018)


1.1.1. As institutions committed to the advancement of knowledge and solutions-based inquiry, universities have a unique role to play in the face of complex environmental, social and economic issues. Through research, education, daily operations and interactions with the broader community, universities can be effective contributors to policy and attitudinal change needed to create a sustainable future.

McGill University is committed to achieve the highest possible standards of sustainability. We strive to be a leader in research and education, creating and communicating the knowledge required for humans to live sustainably at the local, regional and global scales. In our operations, we will meet or exceed governmental standards of sustainability for educational institutions and the norms of sustainability achieved by our comparator universities. Our goal is to become an institutional model of sustainability for society as we pursue our academic mission. In order to achieve this, the University will leverage the talent and ingenuity of its students, faculty and staff to transition towards a more sustainable, low carbon future.

1.2. SCOPE
1.2.1 This Policy applies to all students, faculty and staff across academic practices, facilities and operations.

2.1.1 The objectives of the Policy are as follows:
a) Undertake the activities and operations of the University in a manner that strikes an appropriate balance between the needs and aspirations of current and future generations of the McGill and broader communities;
b) Foster inquiry into sustainability through teaching, learning, research and the university experience;
c) Share knowledge to stimulate innovation, raise awareness and ensure effective participation of the McGill community in the implementation of sustainable practices;
d) Encourage economic efficiencies in the University’s operations that are consistent with social equity and respect for the environment;
e) Promote a healthy, safe and productive work and learning environment for the McGill community;
f) Advance individual and collective efforts and accountabilities throughout the McGill community to make sustainability a priority in the life of the University;
g) Identify and conserve the cultural and natural heritage of McGill University, including properties, buildings, landscapes, traditions and knowledge, taking their intrinsic rarity and fragility into account;
h) Minimize the use and consumption of energy, water and material resources in recognition of the finite capacity of the biosphere to accommodate human activities;
i) Consider the economic, environmental and social impacts of the activities carried out by or on behalf of the University in order to guide decision-making.
j) Comply with regional, national and international declarations and accords of which McGill is a signatory, notably the Talloires Declaration and the Halifax Declaration.

2.2.1 To ensure a structured and collaborative approach in support of this Policy, the University will produce action plans in support of the University’s climate and sustainability initiatives that involve all relevant university stakeholders. These action plans will outline programs and initiatives that will move the University closer to its sustainability goals.

2.3.1 The University will report annually to its community on progress toward achieving its sustainability goals.

3.1 The Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) has the authority to establish, approve, amend and repeal procedures which are secondary to and comply with this Policy.

4.1. A review of this Policy shall be conducted by the Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) every five (5) years, or may be initiated sooner by the Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) or Board of Governors when necessary to ensure legislative or statutory compliance, or when deemed necessary to do so in the best interests of the University.

Source: https://www.mcgill.ca/secretariat/files/secretariat/gd18-25_revised_sustainability_policy.pdf

The institution’s definition of sustainability:

About Sustainability at McGill:
"At McGill we take a broad view of sustainability. It’s not just green, and it’s not just about our operations. The three dimensions of sustainability—social, economic, and environmental—are embedded in our approach. Sustainability involves recognizing the interdependence and complexity of systems. In many cases, moving toward a sustainable future will involve building connections and breaking down boundaries."

Is the institution an endorser or signatory of the following? :
Yes or No
The Earth Charter No
The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) Yes
ISCN-GULF Sustainable Campus Charter No
Pan-Canadian Protocol for Sustainability No
SDG Accord No
Second Nature’s Carbon Commitment (formerly known as the ACUPCC), Resilience Commitment, and/or integrated Climate Commitment No
The Talloires Declaration (TD) Yes
UN Global Compact Yes
Other multi-dimensional sustainability commitments (please specify below) Yes

A brief description of the institution’s formal sustainability commitments, including the specific initiatives selected above:

Halifax Declaration (1991)
From December, 9 through 11, 1991, the presidents and senior representatives of 33 universities from 10 countries on 5 continents met in Halifax, Canada to take stock of the role of universities regarding the environment and development. They were joined by a number of senior representatives from business, the banking community, governments, and non-governmental organizations. The meetings were sponsored by the International Association of Universities, the United Nations University, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, and Dalhousie University, Canada, which also provided the detailed planning and secretariat support. The Halifax Declaration was released at the conclusion of the conference.

Declaration of the island of Montreal community in favour of biodiversity and greening (2010)
McGill signed on to the declaration in 2010. This acknowledged the importance of taking action on biodiversity at a local level.

Website URL where information about the institution’s sustainability planning efforts is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Evidence in support of Part 2, from the institution’s highest guiding documents:
Sustainability as KPI:
Sustainability is one of McGill's Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): "[t]he development of the KPIs have been directly informed by the University’s major strategic priorities. The purpose of the KPIs is to ensure alignment with the University’s core activities and its mission. They provide a high-level measurement of the University’s performance toward its strategic priorities."


McGill University Strategic Academic Plan 2017-2022:
"No university can lead globally in the 21st century without putting sustainability at the centre of its operations, research, and teaching. To this end, McGill will leverage the Advisory Council on Sustainability to promote carbon neutrality, climate literacy, climate resilience, and the development of sustainability-focused research and teaching. We will work with various sectors of the University to implement additional institution-level programs to facilitate individual and collective action to reduce the University’s carbon footprint, including reducing and/or offsetting carbon-intensive university travel" (p.2).

In addition to this statement, the McGill Strategic Academic plan includes multiple sustainability-focused objectives:

- increasing global engagement for undergraduate and graduate students. McGill plans to increase "the number of enriched educational opportunities that create occasion for global engagement through internships, field courses and field semesters, research internships, international competitions, and international exchanges" (pp.2-3). Though not explicitly stated, this global collaboration is fundamental to accomplishing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The University Global Coalition, of which McGill is a member, states, "it is imperative to collaborate and establish multi-stakeholder partnerships in an effort to increase awareness, support, and lead local and global efforts towards achieving [the SDGs]" (https://universityglobalcoalition.org/events-and-media/ugc-decade-of-action/).

- expanding social, economic, and intellectual diversity among the student body: "[o]pportunities for intellectual, academic, and professional growth flourish in communities that reflect a diverse set of social identities and experiences" (p.3).

- deepening the university's commitment to diversity in faculty and student recruitment. The university maintains targets to increase the proportion of female full professors and
increase the proportion of tenured and tenure-track members of equity groups (p.3).

- enhancing accessibility for students from underrepresented groups, especially Indigenous students (p.3)

- encouraging and facilitating interdisciplinary teaching and research (p.4)

In summary, the McGill Strategic Academic plan includes several sustainability-focused objectives in various sections: increasing global collaboration, improving diversity of students and staff, and encouraging interdisciplinary academic activities. These social sustainability goals are in addition to the operational goals of reducing and offsetting carbon emissions.


Sustainability and McGill's Master Plan 2019 (Campus Planning and Development Office):
The McGill Master Plan is a planning document "to guide the evolution the University’s downtown and Macdonald campuses over the next 20 years" ("Master Plan"). Guiding Principle #2 in the Plan's framework is "Support Sustainability through Governance" (p.42). Sustainability is an important theme that is woven throughout various plan items. This theme is best illustrated in the medium-term plan to construct a new sustainability and public policy hub (item D12): "a pavilion in new and heritage buildings on the site of the former Royal Victoria Hospital will give a home to Sustainability Systems and Public Policy. These are two anchors that will feature spaces for state-of-the-art research, events, quiet and group study, as well as a major classroom hub, teaching labs, and a food venue" (Master Plan, p.22). The goal of the New Vic project (to be completed in 2028) is "to pair outstanding strengths in sustainability-focused science and engineering with the social science and policy expertise to translate knowledge into real-world sustainability impact" (The New Vic, n.p.).


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