About Sustainability

Aerial map of campus east side viewSustainability is embedded across many areas of the University of Waterloo. With over 525 courses related to sustainability and 485 faculty members conducting research that advances the global Sustainable Development Goals, Waterloo is actively developing a sustainable future.

As the University continues to grow, this commitment to sustainability is also reflected in our own operations, including ongoing efforts to minimize waste, reduce emissions, and shrink our environmental footprint. The Sustainability Office works collaboratively with departments across campus to move these efforts forward.

More importantly, Waterloo is continually increasing its efforts. Created by the President's Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability, two guiding documents will spur further efforts at Waterloo:

Environment 3 building


Waterloo's sustainability efforts have a deep history. It has long demonstrated leadership in environmental curriculum and interdisciplinary approaches to solving complex sustainability challenges.

It was the first university in Canada to adopt Greening the Campus, the philosophy that university campuses should reflect the world students seek to create. Throughout the 1990s, students were tasked with identifying on-campus challenges and opportunities through the course ERS 250, "Greening the Campus and Community." This course alone generated over 200 student project ideas and led to real changes on campus, including pesticide phase-outs, recycling and composting programs, and more.

In 2009, Waterloo joined all other Ontario universities as a signatory to the Going Greener Pledge, facilitated by the Council of Ontario Universities. This accelerated our partnerships, projects, and capacity building on campus and in the community.

Timeline of Sustainability at UWaterloo 


  • Receives Sustainability Breakthrough Award from Sustainable Waterloo Region 
  • University of Waterloo hires Sustainability Engagement Coordinator 



  • Waterloo invites input for Sustainability Strategy through campus-wide survey and open house
  • Green Office program piloted on Campus



  • Sustainable Campus Initiative implements Davis Centre permeable pavement project
  • St. Paul’s Greenhouse launches community garden for local food production
  • UW hires its first-ever Energy Manager
  • Student group launches UW Campus Compost initiative


  • University of Waterloo Sustainability Project rebrands as Sustainable Campus Initiative
  • Parking Services launches summer suspension program to facilitate walking and cycling in the warmer months


  • UWaterloo joins the Regional Carbon Initiative as an observing organization
  • UWaterloo joins the TravelWise pilot program with the Region of Waterloo
  • Upgrade and retrofit of data servers saves approximately $200,000 annually


  • UWaterloo releases first Sustainable Development Report, with forward from President Hamdullahpur
  • EV3 becomes the first campus building in Ontario to receive a LEED Platinum certification


  • UW Executive Council approves Statement on Green Information Systems and Technology from the Green IT Advisory Board
  • Student group produces feasibility study for regional Climate Action Plan
  • Conrad Grebel and St. Jerome’s launch organic waste collection pilot program through Region of Waterloo Green Bin
  • Central Stores launches e-waste initiative, saving over 30 tonnes of electronic waste annually


  • UW signs Council of Ontario Universities Pledge, Ontario Universities: Committed to a Greener World
  • Founding of the School of Environment, Enterprise, and Development


  • Waterloo joins the Blue Box program through the Region of Waterloo
  • Biology 1 fish laboratory retrofit saves approximately 19,000m3 of water annually


  • Campus Master Plan highlights sustainability and environmental stewardship as defining development features of the next 25 years
  • Residence Reduction Challenge achieves 18% water reduction and 4% electricity reduction


  • UW Food Services opens Farm Market, with 100% local produce


  • Solar Technology Education Project installs 2 kilowatt solar array on Fed Hall


  • University of Waterloo Sustainability Project student group launches, to encourage campus sustainability and engage students


  • Waterloo releases first State of the Environment Report
  • WATgreen nominated for Environmental Sustainability Award by the KW Chamber of Commerce


  • Plant Operations achieves 0% pesticide use target, 2 years ahead of schedule


  • UW issues Guidance Statement for Research & Technology Park to protect the environment, creates a 109 hectare Environmental Reserve
  • Plant Operations, WATgreen, and faculty members compile native plant species list, for exclusive use for future operations.


  • Waterloo faculty, staff, and students serve on the university’s first campus-wide WATgreen meeting


  • WATgreen wins Company of the Year Environmental Achievement Award from KW Chamber of Commerce
  • Turf Grass Maintenance Action Plan launches with 0% pesticide target


  • WATgreen wins Environmental Achievement Award for General Ecology from KW Chamber of Commerce


  • WATgreen Task Force on Turf Grass Management launches
  • WATgreen wins Environmental Achievement Award for Innovation from KW Chamber of Commerce


  • Waterloo hires a Waste Management Coordinator
  • Environment and Resource Studies runs WATgreen course for the first time, helping students understand environmental impacts


  • Waterloo accepts proposal for “Greening the Campus” initiative
  • WATgreen launched with goal of integrating learning onto the campus