Climate and Energy Action Plan

Aerial view of campus overlooking Environment 3



Shift:Neutral is Waterloo's first institutional climate action plan. It lays out key directions and actions that will be mobilized across campus to enable a shift to carbon neutrality by 2050 and increase the energy efficiency of the University campus.

Core pieces of the plan include:

  • Short and medium-term targets to build momentum:
    • 17.5% reduction by 2025
    • 35% reduction by 2030
  • A long-term roadmap of the types of changes needed to reach carbon neutrality and improve energy efficiency
  • 46 specific actions which can help reach short-term targets and build foundations for long-term achievement
  • A review framework

Roadmap to Carbon Neutral

There is no silver bullet to reduce emissions across campus. Shift:Neutral describes a multifaceted approach as part of a long-term roadmap.

  1. Net neutral growth is achieved through stringent energy efficiency requirements for all new buildings and major renovations
  2. Systems are aligned to support carbon neutrality, including prioritization, financial support, monitoring and transparency, and capacity
  1. Energy demand from current buildings is reduced through efficiency measures, including behavior change, scheduling, envelope upgrades, recommissioning and environmental monitoring, and lighting and equipment updates
  2. Waterloo’s fleet is decarbonized through optimization and accelerated adoption of low-carbon vehicles
  3. With reduced energy demand, centralized infrastructure is right-sized as part of renewal, including conversion of steam to hot water
  4. Advanced heat recovery fully optimizes district thermal energy between buildings, including management of simultaneous heating and cooling

Shift Neutral Roadmap with Icons - 1. Net Neutral Growth; 2. Aligning Systems (Campus Priority, Financial Support, Measurement and Transparency, and Campus Capacity); 3. Building Energy efficiency; 4. Low carbon fleet; 5. Central systems renewal; 6. Advanced heat recovery; 7. Low carbon energy; 8. Indirect emissions reductions; 9. Carbon offsets

  1. Energy used on campus comes from low-carbon sources, including renewables and geothermal
  2. In parallel, non-energy/indirect emissions from embodied carbon, business travel, commuting, and waste are reduced
  3. Remaining emissions are offset or sequestered


Waterloo's progress will be tracked as part of the annual Environmental Sustainability Report. Waterloo also publishes a detailed breakdown of annual emissions and actions completed to reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency.

To see more:

How you can help

Students and employees are a critical part of Waterloo's journey. The plan will involve support through everyday actions like turning off lights and equipment, travelling sustainably, reducing waste, and sustainable purchasing. It will also expand opportunities to be more directly involved, for example through the Green Office, Green Labs, and Green Residence initiatives.

There are many existing initiatives underway already.

Find clubs, programs, training, and resources to get involved on campus.

How many emissions do you produce each year?

Visit the Project Neutral tool and input your information to estimate how many emissions you create and opportunities to reduce.

There are many tools and resources available to reduce emissions.

Check out the Sustainability Guide for tips and resources on and off campus.