A Council of Ontario Universities (COU) report released today says Ontario universities are shrinking their environmental footprint and that students are helping to drive the agenda.

COU chair and U of G president Alastair Summerlee says the Going Greener report acknowledges that students are playing a leadership role in reducing waste and increasing recycling on their campuses.

COU president and CEO Bonnie Patterson adds: “Whether it’s protected bike racks, discount transit passes, low-flow toilets or local food at campus cafeterias, Ontario universities and their students are showing they really care about the environment.”

The report says universities have also expanded their commitment to teaching about environmental sustainability, with 15 of 22 campuses across the province introducing new courses related to the environment in the past year.

Overall highlights of Going Greener include:

* 2/3 of campuses in Ontario now have staff dedicated to environmental sustainability;

* Most Ontario campuses measure emissions and energy consumption;

* 86 per cent of campuses offer free or discounted transit passes;

* More than 85 per cent of campuses have installed low-flow toilets, shower heads and faucets;

* Local foods are available at most campuses.

COU is a membership organization of 21 publicly assisted universities in Ontario. Its members signed a sustainability pledge in 2009 that commits them to environmental sustainability with measurable outcomes and mandatory reporting. The pledge, as well as background information on Going Greener projects, can be found on the COU website.