SU Sustainability Projects

To date the Students’ Union has awarded over $50,000 to a variety of student-led projects through its Sustainability Fund. These diverse projects showcase how your SU is actively supporting students in creating a healthier, greener and more environmentally responsible campus.


The University of Calgary is a significant purchaser of goods and services. This project aims to promote more sustainable and environmentally friendly purchasing practices in all areas, but most specifically in the area of food. The project holders hope to work with a group of students to review the purchasing decisions made in food services. They will work to evaluate current practices and provide suggestions for more sustainable options. The group will aim to undertake a major student awareness and publicity campaign in conjunction with the Office of Sustainability in the fall of 2013. A report to the community outlining the results will also be provided at the completion of the project.

This project is working towards solving the mass excess of goods and materials discarded into landfill bins during the process of residence move out at the end of the academic year. Each year, 2300 students move out of residence and throw out their unwanted materials in the process. The project organizers have partnered with several different organizations and a team of volunteers to divert materials from the landfill to recycling facilities or by donating the items to those in need. This includes clothing and household goods, electronics, toiletries, cans and bottles, and non-perishable food items. This program also utilizes volunteers to educate students about the ability to recycle or donate their materials, and where they will be going. Additionally, this project will be part of a competition between the U of C and the U of A to see which school can collect the most material. The first round of this program took place in April 2013.

The Compost Educator Program (CEP) was designed to bring awareness to the composting program in MacEwan Student Centre, which now includes clamshells and cutlery. The project sought to educate students and visitors, as well as be an outlet for questions or comments regarding the program. Volunteers were stationed around the food court during a two week period in the semester to explain the proper use of the compost bins and reduce contamination in the compost system. The first round of the program took place in late February 2013.

The SU is committed to continually improving its environmental performance and ensuring a safe and healthy environment. There are more than 30 areas within the SU main offices that are controlled only by manual light switches. The SU has installed motion detectors on the light switches that will automatically turn the lights off when no one needs them, resulting in significant energy savings. All fixtures in the two washrooms in the SU office have been replaced with efficient water saving sanitary hardware and fittings including taps that stop water flow after a pre-set time and dual flush toilets that flush on either 4 or 2.6 litres of water, a saving of up to 52%.

The Greenlite Arts Festival is a celebration of our local arts and environmental communities working together to increase awareness and affect social change. The festival’s mandate is to showcase the film and photographic works of students and local artists and provide an experience that goes beyond passive viewing through experiential learning. The festival raised awareness of interconnected ecological, social, and economic themes at the local and global community levels to provoke dialogue and stimulate effective action.

The festival hosted the following environmentally-themed activities:

  • Digital Photography Competition
  • Film Competition
  • All-Night 24 hour Eco Film Challenge
  • “Tools of the Trade” Artist Program (TTAP)
  • Best in Show Exhibition
  • Daily Short Exhibition Program on NUTV’s CCTV network
  • Eco-Themed Documentary Screening

Decreasing waste is a priority for your SU. Your SU’s convenience store, the Stor, successfully implemented its own compost program to reduce waste in MacEwan Student Centre. Bound and Copied Cloth Bags In the interest of decreasing the number of plastic bags in landfills, your SU’s used bookstore, Bound and Copied, successfully transitioned to the use of cloth bags thanks to funding from the SU Sustainability Fund.

My Market was a student-led initiative which promoted sustainability through the sale of local goods. This includes the sale of local and organic produce, as well as, local artisan works. The market also provided opportunities to create awareness on various social and environmental developments and issues on and off campus. Supporting student initiatives, such as artistic showcases, gives students an opportunity to get their work out to a larger community and create awareness of issues that matter to students.

A grant was provided to the World University Services of Canada (WUSC) campus club to offset costs of educational material, advertising, promotion and sale of fair trade products in MacEwan Student Centre.

Organics collection is currently overseen by U of C Operations and Maintenance, but was started out as a student-led project called Eat Dirt in September 2008. Funded by the Students’ Union, Eat Dirt piloted organics collection at three pre-consumer food vendors and a post-consumer collection bin in ICT.

Students’ Union facilities staff assisted with transfer of the waste to the composting site that has been determined and approved by the university. The SU Sustainability Board (SUSB) and the U of C Office of Sustainability provided technical support to the project group. To learn more about Eat Dirt visit

A waste audit by 2cg Waste Management Consultant Services was conducted at MacEwan Student Centre (MSC) on March 27 and 28, 2008.

The goal of this audit was to determine waste composition, the effectiveness of current source separation programs and to identify additional waste that could be diverted. The audit also established baseline waste composition data for MacEwan Student Centre. A final waste audit analysis was received on May 29, 2008. This analysis will be used to determine benchmark levels of waste.