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Buildings and Grounds

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

Buildings have significant environmental impacts including water and energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and landfill waste generated from construction and demolition activities. Recognizing the need to minimize these negative impacts, all capital projects at Ryerson 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.

Notable initiatives

LEED certifications for renovations and builds

Ryerson University leverages advanced systems and technologies to more efficiently light, heat, cool and operate our spaces. We are committed to achieving a minimum of LEED Silver certification for all new construction and major building renovations.

Ryerson has been awarded with and targets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), external link certifications for renovations and builds, including:

Participation in Earth Day activities

Ryerson has supported Earth Day activities including the Clean Toronto Together, external link campaign since 2013. It's a simple, hands-on way to contribute towards a cleaner city and community, and to show our commitment to environmental responsibility. Facilities Management and Development (FMD) provides gloves and bags to students, faculty and staff who come out to help contribute towards a cleaner campus, city and community.

The initiative has grown significantly over the years from 10 to 15 participants to now drawing in over 50 students, faculty, and staff. In 2019, we added a new incentive to encourage more participation by acknowledging the most spirited team with a certificate. Last year’s winning team was the Project Management Office, FMD.

Participants at the Earth Day at Ryerson: 20 Minute Campus Makeover 2019 event.

Participants at the Earth Day at Ryerson: 20 Minute Campus Makeover 2019 event

Participants at the Earth Day at Ryerson: 20 Minute Campus Makeover 2018 event.

Participants at the Earth Day at Ryerson: 20 Minute Campus Makeover 2018 event

Green cleaning initiatives 

At Ryerson, our cleaning program includes a comprehensive set of green cleaning initiatives that incorporate sustainability into Custodial Service’ daily operations. This includes:

  • Ensuring environmental criteria are embedded in the requirements from vendors and that all products carry the Green Seal, external link third party certification 
  • Cleaning solutions are dispensed through a metering system to decrease the amount of solution applied, reducing the amount of chemicals used and impact to the environment.
  • Most cleaning products are 100% biodegradable and minimize the use of packaging materials and water
  • We use 100% recycled paper towels and toilet paper
  • In 2019, FMD purchased new vacuums with HEPA filters to minimize air pollutants and improve indoor air quality

Road Salt Reduction 

Ryerson Urban Water (RUW) and FMD have partnered with WWF-Canada on a project to reduce the university’s use of road salt in the winter. The goals of the project were:

  • To evaluate the effectiveness of using anti-icing solutions in order to reduce the need for road salt on the Ryerson campus
  • To promote road salt reduction to the public, private commercial property owners, water professionals and policy- and decision-makers

In 2018/2019, FMD created a liquid brine solution (a mixture of salt and water) and applied the spray solution to de-ice 20 locations on campus in anticipation of snowfalls and freezing rain. FMD was engaged in the planning process and took responsibility for ordering materials, mixing and storing the anti-icing solution, maintaining equipment and applying the solution. 

Treating the Ryerson campus as a living lab, Dr. Oswald from RUW and her team analyzed the data collected by FMD staff to study the safety, cost effectiveness and environmental impact of the liquid de-icer. The project demonstrated that the use of the brine solution reduced the salt applied to campus walkways and stairwells by 25% to 30% on average: a reduction of more than 6 tonnes of salt. It is noteworthy that with this new process in place, there were no increases in liability or complaints from community members in the 2019 winter.

Additionally, they are using computer modelling to predict results as the pilot is scaled up for more widespread applications, not only across the entire campus, but also for other urban properties and sectors throughout the city such as TTC stations, Metrolinx GO stations and Green P parking lots.

Salinization of groundwater and surface water pose risks to human and aquatic health. The project demonstrated that it’s possible to radically reduce the amount of salt used on roads and walkways without compromising safety on campus.

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 Ryerson Urban Water website.

University initiatives

Ryerson Urban Farm green roofs and gardens

The Ryerson Urban Farm, external link demonstrates the potential for sustainable urban landscaping in one of Canada’s most densely populated neighbourhoods. 

In 2011, FMD collaborated with students from Ryerson’s Centre for Studies in Food Security to identify underutilized space on campus that could be repurposed for food growth. In 2013, FMD invited students to conduct a feasibility study and pilot project for the conversion of the green roof into a farm. FMD worked to support any physical changes to the rooftop farm including making it more accessible to move soil to and from the roof and provided equipment such as totes. The result is a quarter-acre pesticide-free and ecological rooftop farm on the Andrew and Valerie Pringle Environmental Green Roof. 

For information about their public programming and initiatives, including CSA and market, visit the Ryerson Urban Farm website.