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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 69.54
Liaison Trina Innes
Submission Date June 30, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Alberta
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Monica M. Chahal
Program Lead
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have one or more active student groups focused on sustainability?:

A brief description of active student groups focused on sustainability:


Sustain SU is a service of the Students’ Union (SU) that provides peer-to-peer learning and support for all undergraduate students to incorporate sustainability into every aspect of their university experience. This includes providing sustainability-based services to the entire campus community, as well as opportunities to facilitate change on a larger scale. To achieve its mission, the organization operates under three pillars:

1) Student Engagement – Sustain SU provides employment and volunteer opportunities that allow students to become involved in sustainability-based services, as well as larger-scale cultural change. In addition, Sustain SU personnel help all departments within the SU advance and communicate the sustainability of their operations.
2) Services – Sustain SU provides campus community members with tangible and easy ways to live more sustainably, as well as information on how to further explore what sustainability means to them. Each project is facilitated by volunteers who communicate the sustainable qualities and results of the respective project to clients.
3) Collaboration – Through a strong working relationship with the Office of Sustainability, Sustain SU works to make it easier for students to launch sustainability-related initiatives and improve the sustainability of current efforts.


Campus Vert is Campus Saint-Jean’s green campus club, made up of students, professors and staff whose mission is to make the campus greener through engagement and sustainability awareness. They mostly organize events by and for students. Their initiatives include Mill Creek Ravine clean-up, tree planting in partnership with the City of Edmonton’s “Root for trees” program, an Eco Station Tour where students can recycle electronic devices, etc.


Earthwise is a student club at Augustana Campus dedicated to raising environmental awareness, promoting sustainability and an environmentally-friendly campus and lifestyle. The club was established in 2006 and is run by an elected executive; membership is open to all students at Augustana. Earthwise frequently organizes activities and events around campus which educate and promote environmental sustainability. Activities include involvement in Sustainability Awareness Week; environmental careers night, featuring alumni; Earth Hour activities including dark yoga, make your own granola, and a campfire with a s’mores bar; and Cozy Day, when a pop-up second hand sweater shop is run and the temperature of campus buildings is decreased a few degrees to promote energy conservation. In 2016, they participated in Pride Week by hosting a Social Sustainability Speaker Panel. Earthwise has also been involved in the annual Spirit of the Land Conference and the Prairie Peace Convergence.

The website URL where information about the student groups is available (optional):

Does the institution have gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and/or urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems?:

A brief description of the gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and/or urban agriculture projects:


Sustain SU initiated the Campus Community Garden in collaboration with the Alberta Public Interest Research Group (APIRG) during the spring of 2003. This organic, shared-plot garden is located on North Campus and showcases sustainable gardening and agricultural techniques. The garden is approximately 300 square metres and located a few blocks from the university. In addition to creating nature-connected recreational opportunities for students, the mandate of the garden is to:

1) Promote local, organic food production by producing food in a sustainable manner, without the use of pesticides, chemicals or genetically modified plants.
2) Provide the campus community with an opportunity to apply classroom knowledge within a living laboratory.
3) Provide organic, local, fresh and healthy food for garden volunteers and the wider Edmonton community through either the Campus Food Bank or similar programs, promoting food security.
4) Promote neighbourly involvement and social interaction as means of establishing strong, resilient communities. Students, staff, and community members are all welcome to participate in this garden project. Garden volunteers are responsible for preparing, planting, maintaining, and harvesting the garden. The level of experience in gardening ranges from first-time planters to dedicated gardeners. Since volunteers learn directly from seasoned gardeners and through organized gardening sessions, volunteer training is ongoing. Sustain SU hires a garden coordinator in the spring to provide support and knowledge to the volunteers. The garden coordinator also organizes several educational sessions over the summer that provide information on gardening techniques and management.


This community garden opened officially on June 8, 2006 as a collaboration between staff of Campus Saint-Jean, Résidence Saint-Jean, and residents of the Bonnie Doon neighbourhood, where the campus is situated. The garden was funded in part by the City of Edmonton, the Community Garden Network (Edmonton), the University of Alberta and Campus Saint-Jean. The garden is grown organically and in an environmentally sustainable way. No pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers are used, and the gardeners practice water conservation. There are four compost bins in the garden used for garden waste and organic waste from Résidence Saint-Jean.


The Green & Gold Community Garden is a community garden with a difference. We think of it as a garden with both local and global benefits. The garden is run by volunteers and is located on the beautiful University of Alberta farm in the heart of Edmonton. Our produce is grown using organic gardening practices, with no pesticides or herbicides. The garden is open to the public during twice-weekly markets, when our freshly picked produce is available for a donation based on fair market prices. All of the proceeds go towards supporting the Tubahumurize Association in Rwanda.


The Faculty of ALES has some of the most comprehensive agricultural and environmental research infrastructure and teaching facilities in the world, including the Rangeland Research Institute, a 5,000 hectare ranch located near Duchess, in southern Alberta. It supports research and teaching in rangeland ecology and management, including grassland ecology; wildlife management; grazing systems and cow-calf management; carbon sequestration and storage; impacts of climate change on rangelands; the establishment, production, harvesting and storage of forages; land reclamation and water resources management.

The Poultry Research Centre is home to the Adopt a Heritage Chicken Program. This program was started to promote the conservation of the unique genetic lines, and to provide a way for the lines to become financially self-supporting.


The Prairie Urban Farm is a mixed-crop garden on South Campus approximately 0.4 hectares in size. An initiative born out of the Faculty of ALES, the garden offers community and student participants an opportunity to get their hands dirty, learn food production skills and get involved in local food security. The garden organizes educational workshops on topics ranging from composting and beekeeping to planting and canning. Mentors are available to help volunteers develop their gardening knowledge.

The website URL where information about the gardens, farms or agriculture projects is available (optional):
Does the institution have student-run enterprises that include sustainability as part of their mission statements or stated purposes (e.g. cafés through which students gain sustainable business skills)?:

A brief description of the student-run enterprises:


The University of Alberta Farmers' Market is coordinated by Sustain SU, a student-run sustainability service operating under the undergraduate Students’ Union. The market is organized by the Farmers' Market Coordinator with the support of several Sustain SU Campus Sustainability Volunteers. The market runs from September to April on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the main floor of the Students' Union Building. The program is planned and implemented almost exclusively by student staff and volunteers. Participants gain the following business skills: marketing and communications planning and implementation; recruitment and retention of vendors; developing working relationships with vendors; increasing knowledgeable of liability requirements and enforcing market procedures; collecting and processing payments from vendors; and logistical requirements for market operations, including placement of booths.

The website URL where information about the student-run enterprises is available (optional):

Does the institution have sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives through which students can develop socially, environmentally and fiscally responsible investment and financial skills?:

A brief description of the sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives:

The website URL where information about the sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives is available (optional):

Does the institution have conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience?:

A brief description of the conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability:


The Student Sustainability Summit is a joint initiative between the Office of Sustainability and Sustain SU. The summit takes place each January and brings together students in a manner that encourages awareness, collaboration, and action on sustainability and social justice initiatives on campus. Students and student groups wishing to effect change are provided with the tools, resources, and contacts necessary to do so. Moreover, the summit fills a recognized gap in the sustainability and social justice movements by providing students with opportunities to interact with leaders in sustainability from campus (staff and faculty) and beyond. In 2017, 159 students from eight Albertan post-secondary institutions attended the summit. This was the university's eighth summit.


This speaker series gives people the opportunity to be exposed to new ideas, promote understanding about the diversity of topics involved in sustainability, and expand the dialogue about sustainability. Over the past six years, 16 speakers have been a part of this program, including Edward Burtynsky, Raj Patel, Majora Carter, and Manulani Aluli-Meyer; 5,767 people have attended these events.


SAW educates and motivates the campus community to live a more sustainable lifestyle. This annual series of events offers thousands of participants the opportunity to become more aware of sustainability issues, learn more about campus sustainability, and develop sustainability skills. Running since 2008, SAW is a week filled with dozens of events coordinated by many sustainability-related campus and off-campus organizations. The target audiences for many of the SAW events are: students, staff, faculty, and the community at large. Over 4000 individuals engaged in SAW 2016.

The website URL where information about the conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability is available (optional):
Does the institution have cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience?:

A brief description of the cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability:


The Sweetgrass Bear, by Stewart Steinhauer, is part of the university’s efforts to work toward respectful, meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous people. A bear sculpture has been installed in three locations including Augustana Campus, Faculty of Extension and North Campus.


This dance brings together children, friends, families, youth and Elders of our community to share stories, catch up on news, break bannock, and share some tea. It is a time to honour traditions and memories of our ancestors. Everyone is welcome.


The Bike Library and Workshop launched an art competition showcasing students' bicycle-related artworks.

The website URL where information about the cultural arts events, installations or performances is available (optional):

Does the institution have wilderness or outdoors programs (e.g. that organize hiking, backpacking, kayaking, or other outings for students) that follow Leave No Trace principles?:

A brief description of the wilderness or outdoors programs that follow Leave No Trace principles:


This club has been active on campus for 76 years. It offers a variety of outdoor trips, experiences, social events, educational opportunities, free equipment rentals, local retail discounts, and opportunities for both experienced and inexperienced participants to challenge themselves in a variety of activities. The club runs all trips at cost with the help of local sponsors and a dedicated team of volunteer executives. In the past, activities have included camping, hiking, scrambling, climbing, canoeing, rafting, mountain biking, back country trips, skiing, snowshoeing, ice climbing, winter camping, weekly runs, ice skating, and an annual trip to California.

The club introduces outdoor experiences to new members but also to provide networking opportunities to our most experienced members. By appealing to such a broad base of outdoor enthusiasts, the club provides the chance to improve and educate oneself in interdisciplinary for the outdoors. The "leave no trace" principle is explicitly outlined in section 1.2.3 of the club's constitution: "To foster respect for the environment and have as little impact on nature as possible ('leave no trace')" and Article 12.1: "That we will leave the natural spaces that we pass through in a better state, and commit to acting sustainably."

The website URL where information about the wilderness or outdoors programs is available (optional):

Does the institution have sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences (e.g. choosing a sustainability-related book for common reading)?:

A brief description of the sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences:


The Office of Sustainability and Residence Services partnered to offer students the opportunity to live on an "eco floor" in the university's Schäffer Hall, part of the Lister residence complex. The sustainability floor houses a supportive community of students from various academic programs who are interested in sustainability and environmental issues.

The website URL where information about the sustainability-related themes is available (optional):

Does the institution have programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills?:

A brief description of the programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills:


The Office of Sustainability partnered with Residence Services to transform a traditional dorm room into a sustainable living space in Lister Residence. This model of sustainable living encourages students moving into their new spaces to consider the options available to them. It also shows them how easy it is to consider the environment and their community by making simple choices to improve the sustainability of their living space. The virtual room includes descriptive photos and 20 tips.


Since 2012, Augustana Campus has had a model dorm room available for prospective students to view. Over the summer of 2016, Learning -Advising -Beyond (LAB) worked in coordination with the Prospective Student Office to integrate some education around sustainability for students living in dorms.

The website URL where information about the sustainable life skills programs is available (optional):

Does the institution offer sustainability-focused student employment opportunities?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution:


Sustain SU provides employment opportunities that allow students to become involved in sustainability-based services, as well as larger-scale cultural change. These positions include the Sustain SU Coordinator, Bicycle Mechanic, Campus Gardens Assistant, Reusable Dish Program Coordinator, and Farmers' Market Coordinator.


This internship program runs every year from mid-August to mid-May. Paid, part-time positions are open to undergraduates, graduate students and recent graduates. Interns gain real-world, meaningful experience and build relevant qualifications for future careers. The program focuses on developing skills in program development, outreach, leadership, evaluation and communications. Interns become familiar with the University of Alberta’s sustainability initiatives and have the opportunity to conduct sustainability-related research.


A multitude of faculties across campus offer sustainability-related paid internships, such as the Agriculture Summer Internship Program and the Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences (ALES) Internship Program.


The Sustainability Scholars program was initiated by the University of Alberta and the City of Edmonton to further the sustainability goals of both organizations, and to provide opportunities for graduate students to develop their skills in applied research. The Sustainability Scholars Program is funded in part through the Graduate Student Internship Program.

The website URL where information about the student employment opportunities is available:

Does the institution have graduation pledges through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions?:

A brief description of the graduation pledges:

The website URL where information about the graduation pledges is available (optional):

Does the institution have other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives?:

A brief description of the other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives:

The website URL where information about other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives is available (optional):

Estimated percentage of students (full-time and part-time) that participate annually in sustainability-focused co-curricular education and outreach programs (0-100):

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Contacts listed alphabetically by first name:

Christopher Avelar
Team Lead, Involvement
Sustain SU - The Student Sustainability Service

Jasmine Farahbakhsh
Program Lead - Sustain SU
Sustain SU - The Student Sustainability Service

Kayleigh Wiebe
Project Planner - Engagement
University of Alberta's Office of Sustainability

Maja Osmanagic
Project Planner - Engagement
Office of Sustainability

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.