Sunday, March 18, 2007

History & General Background

In February of 2005, the Sierra Youth Coalition gave a presentation on the Canada-wide Sustainable Campuses project to the Environmental Programmes Student Society. and was also working with DalGreen. Students from these two organizations joined forces to create the Dalhousie Integrated Sustainability Initiative, co-founded by undergraduate students Zoƫ Caron and Jason Pelley in September 2005.

DISI was officially launched on October 25, 2005 by a small group of students, including other such as Lilith Wyatt, Angela Alambets, Kirsten MacLean, Anna Claire Ryan, Sarah Dawson, Vern Woolsey, and Heather Reed. Then-Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada gave an inspiring talk, followed by an informative session by a group of DISI presenters, outlining what DISI was to become.

DISI has approximately 150 members. The group's mandate is to institutionalize environmental, economic, and social sustainability through changing university operations, curriculum and culture. DISI has an Advisory Committee made up of students, faculty, staff and administration to ensure informed decisions are made.

The major project of DISI is the Campus Sustainability Assessment Framework. (See Concoria's first completed assessment here.) This is a holistic framework that recognizes that people and our economy function within the environment as a greater whole. The assessment measures the level of sustainability of a campus using over 170 different indicators.

These indicators fall under 10 main headings: Water, Land, Air, Materials, Energy, Knowledge, Economy & Wealth, Governance, Health & Well-being, and community. It spans issues such as tuition fees, campus green space, access to health services, and energy efficiency.

So, although saving energy and minimizing our overall environmental impact is a large piece of the puzzle, campus sustainability means much more!

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