Struggle towards local weather change

The climate emergency has strongly fueled the will to act of the University of Sherbrooke, which is announcing the feat of reaching its carbon neutrality target this year, 8 years ahead of schedule.

The UdeS announcement was made in the media presence on June 16 at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Photo: Mathieu Lanthier – UdeS

The announcement was made in the presence of David Suzuki, a global figure in promoting the environment and science, during the day the EDU, andn green and against climate changeinstitutional event held at the Health Campus on June 16th.

Carbon neutrality is one of the most powerful levers to limit global warming to less than 2°C. That’s why UdeS has been multiplying for 20 years the actions aimed at minimizing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy consumption.

Being carbon neutral means having zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To achieve this, UdeS reduced as many GHGs as possible at source. The remainder was offset by the purchase of certified carbon credits.

Carbon neutrality was at the heart of its Sustainable Development Plan 2018-2022, with an initial goal set for 2030. However, the UdeS has been working hard in recent years, which makes it possible to make significant progress in achieving its goal: “ The remarkable performance of our energy efficiency program and the 64% reduction in our GHG emissions over the last twenty years has allowed us to cross the threshold of carbon neutrality today. This concrete commitment once again illustrates the university’s leadership in terms of sustainable development. says Denyse Rémillard, deputy dean and vice dean for administration and sustainable development at UdeS.

In calculating its carbon neutrality, the University took into account GHG emissions over which it has direct control, such as the amount of gas and fuel oil burned to heat its facilities. The so-called indirect GHG emissions were also considered, for example, the steam that the institution buys and imports to supply the Health Campus.

Do more by polluting less

In 20 years, the University of Sherbrooke’s GHG emissions went from 16,373 tonnes of CO2 per year to 5,864 tons of CO2 for the period 2020-2021. Being able to reduce its GHG emissions by 64% in 20 years is a tour de force for an institution that has experienced such strong growth. In fact, since 2002, the UdeS housing stock has increased by 118% and its student population has increased by 66%.

But how can a university that has continued to grow at breakneck speed achieve carbon neutrality?

In recent years, the University has adopted a carbon neutrality strategy for 2030 and has implemented a whole series of measures to reduce its GHG emissions as much as possible.

These include major investment projects aimed at optimizing the energy efficiency of its facilities and modernizing existing equipment, as well as the use of new renewable energy sources. For example, she did:

  • The purchase of renewable natural gas (biogas);
  • The installation of heat pumps in the Rectory building and the main library on the Main Campus;
  • The installation of a geothermal system at the Music School and the total elimination of steam in favor of hydroelectricity for heating;
  • Complete renovation of the Student Life Pavilion;
  • The addition of an electric boiler to the Z5 pavilion of the Health Campus;
  • The modernization of heating of student residences on the Main Campus.

Sustained efforts to reduce GHG emissions affect all campuses.

don’t leave anything to chance

The threat of climate change is very real. Therefore, the measures adopted to minimize the impacts must be rigorous and considered.

Thus, for net GHG emissions that cannot be reduced or eliminated at source, UdeS has adopted a carbon offset approach. For the period 2020-2021, it has offset 50% of its issuances by purchasing certified bonds used to finance GHG reduction projects here and in other parts of the world. Today, it commits to compensating them 100% starting in the fall of 2022 for the 2021-2022 budget year and beyond.

It is important to remember that the purchase of carbon credits remains the last resort of UdeS, whose actions are focused on reducing its GHGs. In addition, the remuneration units it acquires allow the realization of promising sustainable development projects here and abroad.

The University has a local partnership with ECOTIERRA and also acquires credits certified by the United Nations (UN). The institution also involved students from its Master’s program in the environment, who carried out an inventory of the world’s best practices in terms of remuneration. This will allow you to be exemplary in this area.

For the future, redouble our efforts against the crisis

the clothes of the day The UdeS, in green and against change is the perfect example of the University’s leadership in sustainable development. It is worth remembering that in 2019, it mobilized Quebec universities to the signing of the climate emergency declaration.

The June 16 unifying event was marked, in particular, by the awarding of an honorary doctorate to Canadian geneticist and zoologist David Suzuki and by the holding of a lecture by the latter. In addition, the press conference that followed gave us a preview of UdeS’s upcoming commitments in the fight against climate change.

For the dean, the institution has every intention of continuing to inspire change through its excellent practices, bold ideas and deeply human values: “ Universities are key actors in the fight against climate change, both for the exemplary nature of their practices and for the expertise and solutions they can offer society. UdeS intends to position itself in the coming years as a collaborator and decisive partner in the implementation of this climate transition. “, he argues.

Please note that the UdeS strategic plan, which will be unveiled next fall, will be an important place for climate issues.

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