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Buildings and Grounds

Operating more than 40 buildings in downtown Toronto, the university’s buildings represent a huge opportunity to adopt practices that contribute to a sustainable, healthy place for teaching, learning and research. 

Buildings make a significant contribution to our carbon and environmental footprint. Recognizing the need to minimize negative impacts, all capital projects at TMU are subjected to ongoing analysis from the standpoint of sustainability and making efficient use of our existing space to optimize scarce and valuable urban land.

We seek to incorporate natural spaces and features into our unique urban campus grounds and develop green spaces that support sustainable food production and practical learning opportunities for students. We also work to ensure that sustainability is integrated into maintenance practices on campus, from cleaning our buildings to salting our sidewalks.

Sustainable Building Guidelines

Our  (google doc) Sustainable Building Guidelines (external link)  ensure our commitment to carbon reduction and environmental sustainability is reflected in the design and creation of our spaces.  The guidelines include robust energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions performance targets, waste reduction and diversion goals and other requirements that promote sustainable building design. The guidelines apply to all capital projects (new construction, additions and major renovations), minor renovations with carbon and energy implications (as applicable) and should be included in all request for proposals. 

LEED Certification 

TMU leverages advanced systems and technologies to more efficiently light, heat, cool and operate our spaces. We are committed to achieving a minimum of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) (external link)  Silver certification for all new construction and major building renovations.

The university has been awarded with and targets LEED certifications for renovations and builds, including:

Campus Core Revitalization

The Campus Core Revitalization (CCR) streetscape project updated the streetscape along Nelson Mandela Walk to provide increased natural vegetation and a modern, more accessible space. The project also included a green strategy that aligns with our commitment to sustainability. The trees and plants that were struggling to survive in our campus’ urban environment were removed and replaced with native species such as Elm and Red Oak. The new, underground soil cells supporting the new trees were designed as an integrated stormwater management system that contributes to the natural filtration, storage and absorption of stormwater runoff.

The trees that were removed were ground to mulch and returned to TMU’s campus for use in our landscaping. Arborists also cut logs from some of the mature trees that were removed and returned them to be used as natural enrichment features in the Early Learning Centre playgrounds. The topsoil was also removed and sent to a facility to clean out the debris that tends to accumulate in urban gardens. The restored topsoil recovered from the CCR project will be reused in landscaping instead of being discarded as backfill.

Grounds Electric Fleet Vehicles and Equipment

The university Grounds team owns and operates two 100% electric utility trucks. The switch from diesel vehicles to electric was made in an effort to reduce their impact on the environment. The Grounds team also made the decision to replace much of their gasoline powered ground maintenance equipment with battery powered equipment.  They are continuing to explore alternate equipment options to improve the sustainability of their operations.

Road Salt Reduction 

The Uban Water Research Centre and Facilities Management and Development ("Facilities") have partnered with WWF-Canada on a project to reduce the university’s use of road salt in the winter. Reducing the amount of road salt applied to our urban surfaces is key to mitigating the impacts on water quality and aquatic ecosystem health.

What began as a pilot project during the 2018/2019 winter term, is now standard practice for the Groundskeeping team. They create a liquid brine solution (a mixture of salt and water) and apply the spray solution to de-ice campus walkways and stairways in anticipation of snowfalls and freezing rain. Treating the TMU campus as a living lab, Dr. Oswald from the Uban Water Research Centre and her team are analyzing the data collected by Facilities staff to study the on-going safety, cost effectiveness and environmental impact of the liquid de-icer. Using this method, TMU’s annual road salt use is reduced by one third (more than 6 tonnes) on campus and costs are reduced by approximately 30%.

We are very proud of the cross-departmental team that took part in the sustainability initiative and successfully achieved a measurable, positive outcome that is cost-effective and will be scaled up to positively impact communities beyond our campus.

To learn more about the impact of salt in urbanized watersheds and this initiative, visit the Urban Water Research Centre website.

Additional TMU Initiatives