An expanded urban beekeeping program, a renewed focus on active transportation, and two LEED Gold-designated buildings are just three of the initiatives that landed Red River College on Canada’s Greenest Employer list for the eighth straight year.
The annual award recognizes RRC’s environmentally friendly policies and programs, which continue to engage staff in sustainability efforts — on campus and at home. In surveys conducted over the past two years, 90 per cent of RRC staff and faculty said they believe sustainability needs to be a priority in all College operations. The topic continues to be a key strategic priority for RRC, and is a fundamental part of the College’s Strategic Plan.
“Through the efforts of our Sustainability Office, and the commitment of our entire College community, RRC continues to be a champion of sustainability in Manitoba,” says RRC President Paul Vogt.
“Every day on campus there are innovating and engaging activities that create a sustainable culture and educate our staff and students about the roles they can play. Everything from pledging to power down over Earth Day, to learning about the energy reduction methods we use in our state-of-the-art buildings, to engaging in active transportation strengthens our overall commitment to sustainability.”
Last summer, RRC expanded its urban beekeeping initiative in partnership with Beeproject Apiaries. Three hives were installed on the rooftop of the Notre Dame Campus, complementing the three hives put in place on the fourth-floor patio of the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute the prior year.
The new hives doubled RRC’s seasonal yield to more than 150 kilograms of honey, which is used as an ingredient in Culinary Arts and Professional Baking programs, and is sold at the College-run farmers markets held throughout the year.
Throughout the summer, staff and students had the opportunity to visit the hives and learn about the important role bees play in our food system.
“Staff and student engagement is critical for the success of these projects. And what’s great is that these are the types of projects our staff and students want to be involved in,” says Sara MacArthur, RRC’s Director of Sustainability.
“For example, we’ve taken staff on green building tours, visited the Brady Road Landfill, held bike safety courses, and of course we’ve had a lot of interest in visits to the honeybee hives.”
Green transportation has also been top of mind over the last year. In a continued effort to reduce the number of single occupancy vehicles coming to RRC, the Sustainability Office engaged staff by asking them to prioritize the commuting programs and incentives that matter most to them.
The College is proud to offer a 60 per cent subsidized monthly transit pass, 37 indoor bicycle parking spots downtown, and 37 weather-protected bike lockers at the Notre Dame Campus — the largest such installation in the city. The College also offers a bike loan program, allowing employees to access a bicycle free of charge for commuting during the workday.
Last year, RRC’s Paterson GlobalFoods Institute was designated LEED Gold. The 113-year-old building is western Canada’s first skyscraper, and is the first (and only) historically designated building to achieve a LEED New Construction rating in Manitoba. It’s home to the College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality programs and has a 100-bed student residence.
PGI features eight kitchen energy recovery units that capture heat from the Culinary Arts labs and restaurant cooking grills that would have normally been exhausted outdoors. This heat is then re-circulated throughout the building, decreasing reliance on natural gas.