We would like to acknowledge that the land on which we gather is the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Skwxwú7mesh peoples (Squamish). Quest University Canada sits on the Squamish traditional territory, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work, learn, and live in this blessed territory.

What is Sustainability?
We believe that sustainability is a pathway of continual improvement where actions protect and enhance human and natural resources needed by future generations to enjoy a quality of life equal to or greater to our own.

Our Vision For The Future
Here at Quest we aspire to integrate principles of environmental sustainability into every facet of the university. We believe that this requires recognizing the complexity and interdependence of systems and collaborating to generate innovative solutions.

Putting Our Vision Into Action

By leveraging the diverse knowledge and skills of our students, faculty, and staff we are able to actively pursue this vision. Our current areas of focus include: Academics, Operations, Waste Management, and Campus Life.

Quest recognizes the unique responsibility of universities to support the movement towards a promising future. This is why we:

  • Offer progressive curriculum and foster student autonomy to enhance values, knowledge, and skills that contribute to sustainable initiatives;
  • Prioritize operational activities that decrease our consumption of natural resources and increase our use of renewable energies;
  • Promote behaviours to minimize waste production; and
  • Encourage social norms that support overall sustainability

Academics

Quest was created from scratch to be a new educational model for today’s student entering tomorrow’s world. We believe that promoting environmental consciousness is a critical component of this education. As a result, we strive to create an academic environment that fosters awareness and stewardship, and allows students to develop the habits, skills, and knowledge to address the world’s most pressing issues.

Progressive Curriculum

Our curriculum is designed to optimize active and organic learning experiences across the liberal arts and sciences, and to have students own their educational experiences. Given the integral role that our environment plays in our interconnected lives, we prioritize the integration of core concepts of sustainability across all disciplines.

Some of the courses available to students include:

  • Foundation courses – Evolution, Biodiversity of BC, Solar Power, Earth Systems & Human Impact, Ecocriticism, and more.
  • Concentration courses – Hydrological Cycles, Political Ecology, Communities and Conservation, Environmental and Ecological Economics, and more.

For a more exhaustive list of the courses offered at Quest, take a look at our Course Catalogue .

Student Environmental Research Opportunities

While at Quest, students have many opportunities to conduct their own environmental research. Whether it is in class, through the Summer of Winter Fellowship Programs, or for their self-directed Keystone projects, our students are actively contributing to the greater body of academic knowledge.

Student Keystone projects that pertain to environmental sustainability, economic sustainability, and First Nations are also eligible for financial support. Fortis BC Energy Inc., the natural gas supplier to our province, generously awards grants up to $500 each to eligible students. Previous projects include studies relating to environmental conservation education, waste diversion, and more.

This student project was supported by Woodfibre LNG, Ltd.

For more information, visit our page about Research at Quest 

Sustainability Database

In 2016 students developed the Environmental Sustainability Database. This online database is available exclusively to the Quest community and aims to promote academic collaboration amongst the student body. Through this database students have access to research conducted by their peers that pertains to the environmental sustainability on campus and in the local community. In the coming years we hope to see more in-depth research and meaningful student initiatives resulting from this coordination.

At Quest University Canada, sustainability also means reducing waste production, and diverting as much as possible from the local landfill.

Waste Diversion System

We have worked closely with our local waste management company, Carney’s Waste Systems (imbedded link: http://www.carneyswaste.com/), to design an efficient waste diversion system. Given our unique needs as a university, we have settled on two complementary systems; one for upper campus and communal spaces, and another for our residences’ recycling rooms. We predominantly use a 5-bin system across campus with receptacles for: landfill, compost/organics, mixed paper, refundables, and mixed plastics, tin, & aluminum. Our recycling rooms, located on the bottom floor of each residence building, differ slightly as they offer receptacles for glass and corrugated cardboard as well.

Specialty items, such as electronics, batteries, light bulbs, and plastic bags are collected in a central location on upper campus and then appropriately diverted as needed. Our laboratory practices are also tasked with balancing educational and safety objectives with environmental impact. As a result, we consume, on average,  40kg of plastic-based gloves, and produce 1 to 2 Liters of hazardous or toxic waste per year. This waste is handled by an external company, which follows provincial guidelines. We acknowledge that there is room to implement a more in-depth monitoring program for our lab facilities and hope to see this come to fruition in the future.

Waste Audits & Data Collection

We strive to continually improve our waste diversion systems. In order to inform improvements of our systems, waste audits are conducted by students each year. These waste audits measure how much waste is actually diverted through the appropriate stream and how much, and what kind of waste is incorrectly sorted by students.

Student involvement in the sorting and weighing process is a critical part of this project, because it raises awareness and care for the management of waste on campus. Plus, all the data collected is made public to students, faculty, and staff through the environmental sustainability database. This project was conducted by student researcher Sam Leigh, and supervised by Dr. Rich Wildman, faculty member and physical sciences tutor. This research was possible thanks to a grant from FortisBC.

The ReUse-It Center & Move Out

In 2011, the ReUse-It Center opened on the Quest campus. Started as a student initiative, this second-hand store is now co-funded by the university and our Student Representative Council. The aim of this center is to promote the reuse and up-cycling of clothing, kitchenware, home appliances, books, and more. Now students frequent the center to buy or exchange their lightly used clothes and household items. The ReUse-It Center is also known on campus for their clothing swaps and their workshops on item repair, food conservation, and upcycling arts. In the near future, the dedicated ReUse-It Center team hopes to create a workshop space for repairs and other upcycling activities for students to use.

At Quest, all students live on campus, which means that most of our student body must move out of residence each summer. Naturally, students accumulate a plethora of objects throughout the year that must be dealt with in the end. In attempt to pro-actively divert waste from our landfill, we collaborate with the ReUse-It Center to sort everything that students leave behind at the end of the year. Up-cycling areas are designated in each of the six residence buildings to collect non-perishable food, electronics, cleaning supplies, furniture, kitchenware, and clothing.  All items are then appropriately donated, up-cycled, re-used, or disposed of. Since 2012, approximately 2 tons are donated to the Developmental Disabilities Association. In April of 2016, we were able to divert 3 tons of material from the landfill this way thanks to this initiative.

Orientation

We believe that preemptive educational measures are another effective way to ensure the success of our waste diversion systems on campus. This is why we piloted an informative workshop about our waste system to the incoming class of Spring 2017. We hope to be able to reach all of the future incoming students with this project.

Eco-Takeout Container Program

In 2013, our custodial team began to notice that our waste streams were quickly filling up with compostable paper takeout boxes from our cafeteria. Soon after, an ambitious group of students came together with the idea to provide students with reusable takeout boxes instead of single-use containers. Over the next two years, students collaborated with the food service provider, Student Affairs, and our Student Representative Council, to design, refine, and implement the Eco-Takeout Container Program. In short, all meals ordered ‘to-go’ on campus would be served in a GET Enterprise reusable clamshell container made from recycled plastic and then students were responsible for returning these containers to the cafeteria to be washed and re-used.

In 2016, despite re-financing, re-organizing, and re-energizing the program, we failed to retrieve nearly 70% of the Eco-Takeout Containers that were in circulation. Once again, numerous options were explored to improve upon the existing system. Unfortunately, the stakeholders were unable to come to an agreement, and it was decided to put the program on hold. An alternative system is expected to be developed in the Fall of 2017.

Waste Audits & Data Collection

We strive to continually improve our waste diversion systems. In order to inform improvements of our systems, waste audits are conducted by students each year. These waste audits measure how much waste is actually diverted through the appropriate stream and how much, and what kind of waste is incorrectly sorted by students.

Student involvement in the sorting and weighing process is a critical part of this project, because it raises awareness and care for the management of waste on campus. Plus, all the data collected is made public to students, faculty, and staff through the environmental sustainability database. This project was conducted by student researcher Sam Leigh, and supervised by Dr. Rich Wildman, faculty member and physical sciences tutor. This research was possible thanks to a grant from FortisBC.

Our campus is small, intimate, and full of energy. We try to provide structure and support for students to promote sustainable practices and initiatives across campus.

The Minister of Environmental Affairs

Each year, the student body elects a representative to sit on the Student Representative Council as the minister of environmental affairs. This position bridges the gap between grassroot student initiative and institutional policies and practices. We asked our current representative to describe the position:

“Being the minister of environment has allowed me to have an in-depth knowledge of everything ‘eco’ that is occurring both by the students, and by the university. Being a part of the SRC has allowed me to work with passionate students to create and develop the initiatives that they want to see happen. I have also been granted the exposure to faculty members, executive members, students, and the Squamish community to make Quest a better and more environmentally friendly campus. I feel strongly that Quest will be what the students of today shape it to be. And I believe that this can be greatness if we care enough to make it happen.” – Miranda Raven (2016-2017 Minister of Environmental Affairs)

EcoQuest

Within Quest’s first year of existence, three student leaders, Cass Elliott, Jenn (Fern) Yip, and Kevin Eastwood founded a club to address a variety of environmental issues. It was named EcoQuest. Unfortunately, this environmental club stopped existing in its third year. In the summer of 2013, Kestrel Kunz, the newly elected minister of environmental affairs wanted to bring together a subcommittee of students to help her lead initiatives on campus. Naturally, this group took on the name of EcoQuest. Since then, EcoQuest has become an open student club again. It is open to all students who want to tackle environmental issues locally or globally. Their mission is to promote sustainability and environmental stewardship on campus and in the local communities. Many campus initiatives, such as Green Week, visits to the local waste management facilities, waste and energy audits, are supported by EcoQuest members.

In the Spring of 2017, a group of students came together to redesign student structures of environmental affairs at Quest. Using feedback from surveys and focus groups, as well as a collaborative design process, a student committee was formed to achieve specific goals related to sustainability and student engagement.

Transportation Emissions Reduction & The Quest Bike Co-op

Quest’s unique location makes it extremely accessible to trailheads but less accessible to public transportation. In a conscious effort to minimize the greenhouse gas emissions from transporting students to and from campus, Student Affairs provides free group transportation. For individuals wanting to use the local Bus System, BC transit (Imbedded link: https://bctransit.com/squamish/home), offers a financially attractive student rate, which Quest students have access to. Additionally, carpooling and ride-sharing amongst students has emerged as a reliable alternative to public transportation.

In 2016, the Student Representative Council also financed the launch of the Quest Bike Co-op.The Co-op’s mission is to help students work on, learn about, and ride bicycles. They provide expertise and tools for most common repairs. Concurrently, they run a free bikeshare program for student wishing to bike into town or enjoy the many mountain biking trails around campus.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program

Quest is situated within the Sea-to-Sky corridor, a region known for its fertile land and dedicated food growers who participate in various CSA programs. The principle of CSA is simple: community members pre-purchase locally sourced food at the beginning of the season, and received weekly deliveries of fresh produce. This helps alleviate some risks of small-scale agriculture, it contributes to the local economies, supplies high-quality organic produce, and reduces transportation emissions. Each year in September, students returning to Quest are offered the opportunity to buy into a CSA program, where they receive a box of local produce each week until mid-November. This has been a very successful program on campus, as every year the number of students wishing to take part in the program is greater than the number of boxes available.

Check out Krystle tenBrink’s recently published article on Quest CSA Program (Page 11).

Quest Community Garden & Apiary

Quest has its own communal garden, which includes a small orchard. This space is co-funded by the university and our Student Representative Council.  The garden is an open space for students to grow what they like, while benefitting from the support and expertise of others. Furthermore, this communal garden is a learning space and educational space for courses such as Self, Culture, & Society and Eco-feminism. The garden is supervised throughout the year by a student-worker and by faculty member Dr. Tamar McKee.

In the Spring of 2016, a student-built apiary was added to our campus. This apiary hosts several beehives, which collect delicious honey. The bees who live in these hives are of the Western European subspecies, Apis mellifera mellifera. The apiary is also used for curricular activities, mostly as part of a course called “The Hive and the Honeybee”, taught by Dr. Colin Bates. Before the development of the apiary, Quest alumna Michelina Hunter was the recipient of a grant to develop the Quest Pollinator Enhancement Project (imbedded link: https://questu.ca/news/michelina-hunter-the-quest-pollinator-enhancement-project/)  in 2015. This was a public education project to highlight the importance of bees as a keystone species in the area and their role in sustaining most plant and animal life via pollination.

Wildlife-human Relationship

Our campus is situated at the edge of a Squamish’s residential area and boarders the Garibaldi Provincial Park. As such, we share this land with an abundance and diversity of wildlife. Although most encounters are benign, there is the possibility of negative encounters with bears, cougars, owl, and other predatory animals. As a result, we have been working closely with Wildsafe BC, the Conservation Officer Service, and the district of Squamish to prevent dangerous encounters, and minimize the negative consequences when they occur. Our sustainability team has been working hard to develop an education program for all incoming students to go alongside the waste diversion workshop during fall and spring orientations. Additionally, ‘all student’ emails are used to notify students of the presence of potentially dangerous wildlife around campus.

Community Involvement

In addition to engaging with our campus population, we strive to also connect with the greater Squamish communities. These videos produced by Quest students, in partnership with the Squamish Climate Action Network (Imbedded link: http://squamishcan.net/), exemplify this effort.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_02HVCHmyc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrqJueTdPhM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3FXB7Qftpg&t=17s

We incorporate, whenever possible, principles of sustainability into our facilities and operations.

Sustainability Committee

Each month, representatives from key decision making bodies on campus come together to discuss and pursue initiatives that fosters ethical and environmental responsibility and accountability on campus. Attendees of these meetings include members of our Student Affairs – Campus Sustainability Team, Facilities Team, Custodial Team, Grounds keeping Team, faculty, and students.

Energy

One unique feature at Quest is our closed-loop, vertical well geothermal heating and cooling system. The system heats and cools the entire upper campus along with two future residence buildings and an additional academic building. Currently, our lower campus residences have baseboard and manual thermostat heating systems. Supplying this heating for lower campus, as well as all electricity on campus, is the provincial distributor BC Hydro. Over 95 percent of the electricity generated by BC Hydro comes from hydroelectric facilities, which are located in the Peace, Columbia and Coastal regions of BC.

For more information regarding our geothermal system, please refer to our overview of Geothermal at Quest (link to Geothermal at Quest.pdf).

Procurement

All of our cleaning products used on campus have been carefully selected to make the least environmental impact as possible. Our custodial teams prioritizes purchasing products from Chemecological(TM) as they are Naturally Better Certified and Green Seal Certified.

Our custodians only use microfiber cloths and spray bottles that are reusable/refillable. Plastic bags for waste and recycling are only changed when they are full and compost is collected in compostable bags. We have recently begun purchasing only 100 percent recycled paper towel and toilet paper to supply all of the bathrooms on campus. Additionally, we compost all of the soiled paper towel in an effort to maximize our waste diversion.

Food Services

Our new food service provider, Dana Hospitality, is committed to providing locally and ethically sourced options for the Quest community. For more information, visit their website.