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University joins United Nations Environment network

Third Canadian university connected to global partnership

International youth climate justice activists at the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) UN climate conference in Marrakesh, Morocco (November 2016).
International youth climate justice activists at the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) UN climate conference in Marrakesh, Morocco (November 2016).

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology promotes sustainable development in energy and environmental sciences, and contributes leading social research into the global human condition.

The university is excited to announce its membership in the Global Universities Partnership on Environmental Sustainability (GUPES) under the United Nations Environmental Program (UN Environment). The university becomes the third in Canada to join GUPES, a group that also includes such American universities as Yale University, the State University of New York, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Washington. More than 600 universities are in the worldwide network, mostly in Asia-Pacific, Africa and Latin America.

GUPES promotes the integration of environmental and sustainability concerns into teaching, research and community engagement. It also supports the management of universities, including the greening of university infrastructure/facilities/operations, as well as enhancing student engagement and participation in sustainability activities.


“The vast majority of GUPES members are in the southern hemisphere, reflecting the GUPES mandate, but it is essential that northern universities are also involved in the global effort. The University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s research portfolio, award-winning environmental initiatives and capacity for community engagement strongly positions us to share fresh, innovative knowledge and opportunities in sustainability and make significant contributions to GUPES and the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.”
-Peter Stoett, PhD, Dean, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

GUPES objectives

  • Provide a strategic platform for the mainstreaming of environmental and sustainability concerns into university systems across the world.
  • Facilitate inter-university networking on sustainability issues with an emphasis on South-South and North-South tertiary partnerships.
  • Build, through university education systems, a professional capacity and leadership needed for the prevention of and responses to environmental issues, risks and associated sustainable development challenges. 
  • Contribute to revitalizing the global higher education system and enabling it to address current sustainable development challenges with emphasis on UNEP’s seven thematic priorities.
  • Contribute to the knowledge generation within UNEP’s seven priority thematic areas and other contemporary environmental and sustainability issues, risks and challenges.
  • Optimize development opportunities provided by ecosystem services in a sustainable manner in line with the principles of ‘Green Economy’ and in the context of sustainable development.
  • Help prepare the world for the projected impacts of global climate change, disasters and conflicts, harmful substances and hazardous wastes, as well as assist in reversing and mitigating these and other negative environmental and sustainability trends.
  • University of Ontario Institute of Technology sustainability initiatives
  • Geothermal energy system
    • The university operates as one of the lowest carbon emitting post-secondary institutions in Canada. When the university opened in 2003, the north Oshawa campus location was home to Canada's largest geothermal well system (and was the second largest in North America).
    • The 1,500-tonne Borehole Thermal Energy Storage System sits hidden beneath the 7,500-square-metre quad at the centre of the building complex.
    • The installation is made up of more than 370 boreholes (180 metres deep), which are used to heat and cool the campus buildings. Water circulates through the underground network (150 kilometres of polypropylene piping).
    • In the winter, the geothermal system takes heat from the earth and carries it to the buildings. In the summer, the same system removes heat from the buildings and disperses it into the ground. The innovative system links each building to a central heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) plant.
  • Water management
    • The university uses a 'greywater' collection and management system to enhance water conservation efforts. It recycles the 180,000 litres of water used daily in its Aquatic Toxicology laboratory into ‘greywater’ that flushes toilets and urinals on campus. This system saves 32 million litres of water every year.
    • To manage runoff at the university’s north Oshawa campus location, stormwater is directed to ponds, bioswales and storm ponds. The sustainable stormwater design also enriches the campus landscape.
  • Other sustainability initiatives
    • Energy-efficient buildings feature green roofs.
    • New buildings made with recycled concrete.
    • Incandescent bulbs phased to LED bulbs campuswide.
    • Occupancy sensor lighting systems and dimmable lighting systems in classrooms and offices.
    • Installed compactors for waste compression.
    • Sixty-five advanced power meters installed within university buildings for accurate energy-use recordings.
    • Paper supply features only recycled content and wheat-derived products.
    • Waste Wise campaign educates students and staff about waste streaming and responsible consumption.
    • Installation of 32 hydration stations, and distribution of reusable bottles to all staff and students, diverting millions of bottles from landfill.
    • Ridesharing program.
    • A 2.8-hectare on-campus pollinator garden of native wildflowers and 15 beehives, as part of the university’s Pollinator Project.
    • Tree nursery of approximately 500 native trees.
    • Installation of photovoltaic solar arrays and solar thermal collectors at the Windfields Farm lands.
  • Awards for campus sustainability

Media contact
Bryan Oliver
Communications and Marketing
Ontario Tech University
905.721.8668 ext. 6709