As a way to offset the frequent airplane travel that comes with being an internationally focused business school, the Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria is going carbon neutral – believed to be the first business school in the world to do so.
Gustavson is investing in three carbon offset projects that will improve living conditions in communities in Uganda, Honduras and Thailand, and two environmental projects in BC.
“Offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions of our travel is a way that we’re enacting our school’s values of sustainability and broader purpose, while maintaining our focus on international education and experience,” says Gustavson Dean Saul Klein. “It’s important and timely to demonstrate leadership to our students and to the world; if our actions have a negative impact, we have a duty to do something about it.”
Over 90 per cent of Gustavson students and faculty travel internationally on an annual basis, in keeping with the school’s objective of developing globally minded graduates and demonstrating thought leadership in international business research.
The carbon offsetting strategy is based on extensive research and data collected to assess the school’s greenhouse gas emissions. Gustavson’s 2016 carbon report found employee and student-related international travel and employee commuting accounted for 82per cent of its overall greenhouse gas emissions. Identifying this large source of carbon emissions led Gustavson to strategize about how to reduce its environmental footprint. In late 2017, the school approved a goal to offset these greenhouse gas emissions. The school also researched the carbon neutrality/carbon offsets of other business schools around the world.
To achieve carbon neutrality, Gustavson is investing in five carbon offset projects. In purchasing carbon offsets, the school enables projects that either effectively reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of current activities, or remove from the atmosphere an equivalent amount of greenhouse gas produced by the school’s travel. Selected by a collaborative committee of faculty, student and staff representatives, the projects are located both locally and internationally—further reflecting Gustavson’s global approach.
The selected projects are:
A chlorine dispenser project in Eastern Uganda that provides rural communities with safe drinking water, replacing the need for communities to boil water with wood-burned fire
A wastewater treatment project in Thailand that reduces fossil fuel use by 4,700 litres a day by capturing methane from wastewater at a starch manufacturing plant and converting it to heat for the starch-drying process
An affordable, energy-efficient cooking stove distribution project in Honduras that provides communities with stoves that are 50 per cent more efficient than traditional wood-burning open fires
The Great Bear Forest Carbon Project that helps support the ecosystem-based management model in which coastal First Nations, environmental groups, forest companies and governments co-manage the Great Bear Rainforest to sustain biodiversity and create jobs for Indigenous communities
The Quadra Island Forestland Conservation Project that helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, preserve important site-specific environmental and cultural features and protect the Quadra Island Forestland Conservation area for recreational activities
Each of the international offset projects are Gold Standard Certified—meeting at least two of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. In selecting these projects, Gustavson also reflects the values that recently earned its designation as a UN Principles for Responsible Management Champion School, whose role it is to promote social responsibility and support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals through education, research and activities.