The Sustainable Campus: A Comparison of Comprehensive Sustainability Policies in the Campus Master Plans of the University of Guelph and Queen’s University
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Higher education institutions are increasingly welcoming the challenge to reassess their operations against today’s sustainability standards and to steadily implement sustainable planning practices on their campuses. Campus Master Plans (CMPs) with sustainability policies have manifested and their overall goal has been to build sustainable, healthy, vibrant, and balanced communities within their campuses. The promotion and implementation of sustainability planning practices as well as policies have propelled higher education institutions into the public realm as one of the many leaders in sustainable planning. Despite these efforts, there has been little guidance on incorporating sustainability into campus planning policies. There has also been varying approaches to developing and implementing sustainable campus planning policies. This knowledge gap and lack of sustainability coordination has initiated strong interest in investigating how higher education institutions have approached sustainable campus planning. This report assessed the campus sustainability planning policies of the CMPs of the University of Guelph and Queen’s University. It addressed the following research questions: 1) which of the two CMPs offer a more comprehensive and well-defined collection of campus sustainability policies (i.e. ranging from sustainability research and community partnerships to transportation and energy consumption)? and 2) what lessons can the CMP identified in the first research question provide other Canadian higher education institutions with similar institutional and host municipality characteristics looking to implement comprehensive sustainability policies in their CMPs? When comparing the sustainable CMP policies of both institutions, it was found that the University of Guelph held a more comprehensive set of sustainable CMP policies than its counterpart . Although Queen's University's CMP policies exhibited a multitude of sustainability policies and objectives that were also detailed, according to the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System evaluation criteria by the Association for the Advancements of Sustainability in Higher Education, it did not contain a comprehensive set of sustainable policies. This was the focus of the report because of the widely accepted principle that sustainability is holistic and encompasses the three pillars: environment, economics, and equity.