U of T sustainability

The University of Toronto named the most sustainable university in the world

The University of Toronto has secured the top position as the most sustainable university globally in a new ranking.

“The University of Toronto community is absolutely delighted by this recognition of our global leadership in sustainability,” said U of T President Meric Gertler. “It is a wonderful tribute to the innovation and commitment of the many U of T faculty, students, staff and alumni who are dedicated to meeting every aspect of this great challenge of the 21st century.

The QS World University Rankings: Sustainability 2024 was released by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), and evaluates universities based on environmental impact, social impact, and governance. U of T, topping the list of more than 1,400 institutions across 95 countries, exhibited notable strength in environmental and social impact, securing second and fourth places globally, respectively. The newly introduced governance category saw U of T tying for 15th place.

The sustainability ranking utilizes data from the QS World University Rankings, including reputation surveys and research output related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It assesses institutional policies, operational data, alumni impact, and national data from organizations like the OECD and World Bank, considering over 75 data points across nine lenses.

university of Toronto sustainability
New student residence will meet Passive House standards for energy-efficient construction

New additions to the ranking this year include net-zero commitments, renewable energy generation, and citations of scholarly research in policy documents. U of T’s outstanding performance contributed to Canada’s strong representation, with two universities in the top five and three in the top 10.

The university’s sustainability initiatives, spanning its three campuses, align with its commitment to becoming climate-positive by 2050. Infrastructure projects, academic programs, and research focus on achieving this goal, with U of T making advancements in geothermal and solar energy, retrofitting district energy systems, and launching initiatives like Project SHIFT and Project LEAP.

For example, U of T Scarborough unveiled a recently constructed student residence adhering to Passive House standards for energy-efficient design. Additionally, the campus is advancing climate-responsible projects, such as the construction of the Scarborough Academy of Medicine and Integrated Health (SAMIH) and the EaRTH (Phase 2) complex. The latter is a pivotal component of the collaborative EaRTH District initiative, featuring proposals for a net-zero vertical farm.

The significance of sustainability credentials in students’ decisions was highlighted by QS’s CEO Jessica Turner, citing the growing importance of social and environmental impact alongside academic excellence. U of T’s consistent top rankings across various international assessments reinforce its position as a leading global university.

“Our 2023 Sustainability Survey revealed a striking trend: 79 per cent of prospective international students view an institution’s sustainability practices as extremely or very important. Additionally, 82 per cent actively seek information on these practices while researching universities,” wrote QS’s CEO Jessica Turner.

And we have learned lately just how much Ontario universities rely upon international students.

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