Sustainability Policies at McGill

Since the creation of Sustainability Policy, we have seen a marked increase in conscientiousness in our community regarding campus sustainability.

McGill has long demonstrated its commitment to sustainability through its forward-looking policies: the Environmental Policy (2001), Paper Use Policy (2005) and Sustainability Policy (2010), all of which have helped change the way we work.

Sustainability Policy • Environmental Policy • Paper Policy


Sustainability Policy

A Sustainability Policy was drafted by a working group of students, staff, academics, and administrators at McGill and approved by Senate on April 28, 2010 and by the Board of Governors May 25, 2010.

The mission of McGill University will be attained responsibly by carrying out its activities in a manner that achieves a balance between the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability:

The Mission of McGill University is the advancement of learning through teaching, scholarship and service to society by offering to outstanding undergraduate and graduate students the best education available, by carrying out scholarly activities judged to be excellent when measured against the highest international standards, and by providing service to society in those ways for which we are well-suited by virtue of our academic strengths.

Policy statement

McGill University aspires to achieve the highest possible standards of sustainability on its campuses and in its day-to-day activities through its academic practices, in its facilities and operations, and by its outreach to the broader community. We strive to be a leader in research and education, creating and communicating the knowledge required for humans to live sustainably at the local, regional and global scales. We will meet or exceed in our operations governmental standards of sustainability for educational institutions and the norms of sustainability achieved by our comparator universities. Our goal is to become an institutional model of sustainability for society as we pursue our academic mission and play a positive and proactive role in communicating the rationale and need to develop and implement sustainable practices in the broader community.

To this end, McGill University will:

  • Undertake the activities and operations of the University in a manner that strikes an appropriate balance between the needs and aspirations of current and future generations of the McGill and broader communities;
  • Foster inquiry into sustainability through teaching, research and the university experience;
  • Share knowledge to stimulate innovation, raise awareness and ensure effective participation of the McGill community in the implementation of sustainable practices;
  • Encourage economic efficiencies in the University’s operations that are consistent with social equity and respect for the environment;
  • Promote a healthy, safe and productive work and learning environment for the McGill community;
  • Advance individual and collective efforts and accountabilities throughout the McGill community to make sustainability a priority in the life of the University;
  • Identify and conserve the cultural and natural heritage of McGill University, including properties, buildings, landscapes, traditions and knowledge, taking their intrinsic rarity and fragility into account; and
  • Minimize the use and consumption of energy and material resources in recognition of the finite capacity of the biosphere to accommodate human activities.

Accompanying principles

Among other initiatives undertaken in support of this Policy, the University will:

  • Consider activities carried out by or on behalf of the University in light of their life cycle, including their economic, environmental and social footprints;
  • Establish sustainability indicators to enable accountability, to communicate specific goals, and to monitor and report on progress;
  • Prepare and regularly update a sustainability plan with specific goals and objectives; and
  • Report annually on progress to the McGill community.

The Sustainability Policy is also available as a PDF. In the event of a discrepancy between this website and the printable PDF document, the latter shall prevail.

Sustainability Policy


Environmental Policy

The Environmental Policy demands that we question our attitudes, our reliance on resources we take for granted, and the wasteful habits that we have developed, and then rethink and correct what we do and how we do it. This policy was created in 2001 and the accompanying principles were passed in 2002.

Policy statement

We at McGill University are committed to fulfilling our academic mission and managing all resources in harmony with our natural environment. We are committed to meeting our social, scientific, ethical and educational leadership responsibility in actively promoting the restoration and preservation of a healthy environment for the future and in contributing to building an equitable world.

Our commitment to raising environmental awareness and acting on it is manifested in our teaching and research activities, in other services which we provide to the McGill community and society at large, and in the individual and collective decisions which we take to offset the negative impact of the University's operation and activities on the Environment.

We are committed to increasing the University community's awareness of environmental issues, by fostering the appropriate values, knowledge, and skills to enable us to work towards the restoration and preservation of the Environment.

Accompanying principles

McGill University shall strive to be recognized as an environmentally safe and responsible institution of learning, and as a model of environmentally responsible living. To this end, the McGill University community shall make every reasonable effort to:

  1. Prevent the over-consumption of energy and other resource and reduce the production of waste, and the release of substances harmful to the biosphere;
  2. Maintain purchasing policies which favor environmentally-benign, post-consumer, bio-degradable, and non-toxic products wherever possible;
  3. Encourage all members of the McGill community to be environmentally aware and the University's Environmental Policy to be well publicized;
  4. Encourage all members of the McGill community to Re-think/Reduce/Re-use/Recycle. Given the costs that recycling entails, reduce and re-use options shall always be considered first; and
  5. Seek additional ways of achieving our goal of being environmentally safe and responsible.

The Environmental Policy is also available as a PDF. In the event of a discrepancy between this website and the printable PDF document, the latter shall prevail.

Environmental Policy


Paper Policy 

The University has had a paper use policy in effect since 2005.

Policy statement

All academic and administrative units of the University shall abide by the commitments made under the McGill Environmental Policy in order to implement the principle of “rethink - reduce – reuse - recycle” in its paper usage by:

  • Purchasing paper with greater recycled and post-consumer content, when economically feasible;
  • Printing and copying double-sided, when appropriate;
  • Allowing and encouraging students to submit double-sided assignments.

Accompanying principles

To this end, academic and administrative units shall make every reasonable effort to:

  • Purchase the Eco-logo or 100% PC paper when recommended by the University;
  • Print and copy double-sided (documents, memorandums, exams, handouts, etc.);
  • Post syllabi, notes and notices in a way that reduce the over consumption of paper when using WebCT (e.g. post PowerPoint slides six to a page);
  • Set the default on printers and copiers as double-sided;
  • Use exam booklet made of Eco-logo or 100% PC paper and lined both sides;
  • Make use of Eco-logo or 100% PC paper in all University’s publications and mention it in the publication;
  • Encourage students to submit assignments double-sided;
  • Encourage web-based assignments.

The Paper Use Policy is also available as a PDF. In the event of a discrepancy between this website and the printable PDF document, the latter shall prevail.

Paper Use Policy