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Sheridan College’s Mission Zero

The City of Mississauga Economic Development Office recently sat down with members of Sheridan College’s Sustainable Development team to learn about the exciting work they have been doing to transform Sheridan into a leader in sustainability. Sheridan College’s Engineering for Sustainable Development team will be providing the keynote lecture at the upcoming Mississauga Climate Leaders Program, ‘Identifying GHG Reduction Opportunities’ workshop for local businesses on November 28th. To learn more and register, click here.

In 2013, Sheridan College’s Board of Governors endorsed an Integrated Energy and Climate Master Plan (IECMP). The IECMP sets out goals to consume 50% less source energy and emit at least 50% fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030.

What progress has Sheridan been able to make towards these goals?

Since the endorsement of our IECMP, Sheridan has invested in a comprehensive energy and greenhouse gas reduction solution that includes campus-wide control and metering, building efficiency retrofits, upgraded and expanded heating and cooling distribution, on-site heat and power generation, and performance standards for new construction. As a result of these efforts, by 2018/2019 Sheridan’s energy-related emissions had decreased by over 54% and source energy was reduced by over 15% compared to 2010/2011. Some of the key enhancements completed include mechanical and lighting upgrades, automation system upgrades, installation of the district energy systems at our Brampton and Oakville campuses, and decommissioning of the Oakville steam plant.

Can you describe Sheridan’s process to identify priority areas and opportunities for GHG reductions and energy cost savings? Did you encounter any significant challenges along the way?

The IECMP was developed over 16 months by a core team of faculty members, facility staff, and students under the project management of the Director of Sustainability. This team was mentored by a small group from Garforth International LLC., a partner with internationally recognized energy expertise. To guide decisions on project scope and goals, Sheridan followed the “trias energetica” concept, which instills a three-step project order discipline for approaching energy reduction in the building sector that focuses on: 1)  Efficient use of energy, 2) Efficient distribution, and 3), Clean and efficient supply.

This team was challenged to create a robust plan that would not only meet goals related to reduction in source energy and greenhouse gas emissions, but also achieve an acceptable internal rate of return, and ensure energy supply reliability.  In addition, we wanted to build on Sheridan’s “living laboratory” model by thoughtfully integrating operational initiatives into opportunities for student learning, curricular innovation and interdisciplinary sustainability research excellence.

Sheridan’s Strategic Plan and the IECMP emphasize Sheridan’s ambition to take a leadership role within the wider community and have an impact beyond campus boundaries. How has that ambition shaped Sheridan’s approach to sustainability?

One of the empowering enablers in Sheridan’s Strategic Plan is to lead, manage, and innovate for long-term fiscal and environmental sustainability. The creation of the District Energy system is a great example of such leadership and innovation and enables the community to see real district energy architecture in action. Sheridan’s district heating system creates an energy network, where heat can not only be recovered and reused within campus buildings but can also be recovered and supplied to buildings beyond Sheridan’s campus boundaries, supporting potential for more energy and emissions reductions across a wider community.

What is next for Sheridan?

Sheridan’s Mission Zero outlines a framework for institution-wide sustainability initiatives and continuous improvement. We are now developing ambitious targets out to 2030 and beyond!  We are building upon the foundation laid by the IECMP to strive for net zero carbon emissions, as well as expanding and accelerating efforts related to zero waste initiatives, sustainable and active transportation, protecting and enhancing biodiversity, and furthering development of water management initiatives. In February 2022, Sheridan also became the first post-secondary institution in Ontario to sign the SDG Accord, which is the university and college sector’s worldwide response to integrating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In doing so, Sheridan committed to aligning its strategies and operations based on the multi-faceted environmental, social, and economic lens provided by the SDGs, demonstrating our commitment to play a pivotal role in building a more equitable future and sustainable world for all through innovation, education, and principled leadership.

What advice would you give to businesses starting on their sustainability journey?

When first starting out, planning and visioning is key. Do your homework to build a strong sense of clarity on how you want to proceed with your decarbonization/sustainability journey. You will need to clearly define goals and objectives and then ensure approval and support/resourcing from senior management. We encourage businesses to leverage best practices from others to help guide their journey, as there are many mentors and champions with experience to share.

Mississauga Climate Leaders Workshop Series

Want to learn more about Sheridan College’s approach to reducing GHG emissions and improving energy efficiency? A member of Sheridan College’s Engineering for Sustainable Development team will be providing the keynote lecture at the upcoming ‘Identifying GHG Reduction Opportunities’ on November 28th. This session will help you and your business identify ways to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) through suggested actions.  Click here to learn more and register.

To learn more about Mississauga’s Climate Leaders Program, click here.