Policy 72 - Environmental Management and Sustainability

Approved Administration Committee 2333.2

ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY

PURPOSE

1. The purpose of this policy is to:

  • a. recognize the responsibilities and express the commitment of the University of Ottawa (University) with respect to environmental protection and sustainable practices;
  • b. define the framework for implementing procedures and directives to ensure environmental issues are addressed responsibly and diligently in the course of University operations and development;
  • c. ensure compliance with all applicable environmental law at all sites of University activity;
  • d. allocate specific responsibilities to various members of the University community; and
  • e. provide a platform for sustainable development efforts at the University.

INTERPRETATION

2. This policy shall be read and applied in a manner that is consistent with applicable environmental law and with the University’s other administrative policies and regulations.

3. Questions concerning interpretation of this policy shall be directed to the Environmental Management Unit.

4. In this policy:

Action plan” means a planned sequence of steps, procedures or activities to be performed in order successfully to solve a problem, mitigate an adverse effect, implement a solution or improve a situation. An action plan has three major elements: (1) specific tasks: what will be done; (2) time horizon: when will specific tasks be done; and (3) resource allocation: who will perform specific tasks and with what resources, including funds where relevant.

Adverse effect” means one or more of the following impacts flowing from impairment of the quality of the natural environment:

  • (a) impairment of any use that can be made of the natural environment;
  • (b) injury or damage to property or to plant or animal life;
  • (c) harm or material discomfort to any person;
  • (d) impairment of the health of any person;
  • (e) impairment of the safety of any person;
  • (f) degradation of any property, plant or animal life that renders it unfit for human use;
  • (g) loss of enjoyment of normal use of property; and
  • (h) interference with the normal conduct of business.

Air” means open air not enclosed in a building, structure, machine, chimney, stack or flue.

Campus Sustainability Committee” means the committee reporting to the Vice-President Resources to advise on matters related to creating a more sustainable campus.

Directive” means a document prepared by a faculty or service establishing, defining, and communicating guidance on how the efforts, objectives and activities of members of that faculty or service shall be aligned with and support University policies, regulations and procedures.

Document” includes a sound recording, videotape, film, photograph, chart, graph, map, plan, survey, book of accounts and information recorded or stored by means of any device.

Due diligence” is the level of judgment, care and prudence that a reasonable person would be expected to apply under a given set of circumstances.

Environmental law” means those statutes and regulations that apply to the University (including any laws, regulations, rules, ordinances, restrictions, regulatory policies or guidelines, by-laws (zoning or otherwise) or orders of any federal, provincial or municipal governmental or regulatory body having jurisdiction) and that govern the protection of the natural environment.

Environmental Management Unit” means the unit established within the Office of Risk Management as a source of expertise for the University on all facets of environmental management.

Environmental management program” means a program designed to support implementation of this policy and the overall goal of reducing negative environmental impacts.

Environmental Management System” or “EMS” means a set of processes and practices that enable an organization to reduce its environmental impacts and increase its operating efficiency from an environmental perspective.

Environmental risk” means a potential event, occurrence or condition that, if it occurs, may result in an adverse effect.

Environmental risk assessment” means the process for estimating the likelihood or probability of an adverse effect resulting from human activities.

Environmental risk management plan” or “ERMP” means a plan prepared to foresee specific environmental risks, estimate their potential impacts (whether high or low), and define responses and mitigation strategies should such environmental risks materialize.

Incident” means an undesired event, such as a fire, spill, or breakage of material, that results in an adverse effect.

Inspection” includes an audit, examination, survey, test or enquiry.

Land” means surface land not enclosed in a building, land covered by water, and all subsoil, or any combination or part thereof.

Natural environment” means the air, land and water, or any combination or part thereof.

Office of Campus Sustainability” means the office established within Facilities as a source of expertise for the University relating to campus sustainability.

Procedure” means a codified University practice, instruction or process that defines specific courses of action or explains how to apply a University policy or regulation or environmental law.

Senior management within faculties and services” means managers who actively participate in the daily supervision of administrative processes within faculties or services and report to a director or equivalent.

Student” means a person who is registered in a course or program of study at the University and who is not a worker.

Supervisor” means a person who has charge of a location where work is done, whether on a paid or unpaid basis, or who has authority over or gives direction to workers, students, visitors, volunteers or learners. Depending on the workplace relationship, a supervisor may include the President, a vice-president, a director, a dean, a manager or a principal investigator.

Sustainability Plan” means a plan to improve the efficient use of resources and implement sustainability practices.

Sustainable” means operating in a fashion that, to the extent reasonably possible, does not unnecessarily or irreversibly deplete resources, damage the environment, or diminish quality of life.

Visitors, volunteers and/or learners” means persons who are not supervisors, workers or students but who engage in any University-related activity in or on University premises or using University facilities.

Water” means surface water and ground water, or either of them.

Worker” means a person who performs work for or supplies services to the University for monetary compensation, and includes without limitation a University employee and a student hired by the University to perform duties for the University under a paid work-study program or cooperative education placement.

APPLICATION

5. All members of the University community, including the University’s supervisors, workers, students, visitors, volunteers and learners, shall comply with this Policy.

POLICY STATEMENT

6. The University is committed to managing its operations and development responsibly, ensuring optimal environmental performance in compliance with its obligations under all applicable environmental law, and to providing the necessary resources to fulfil this commitment.

7. The University is committed to monitoring and continually improving its environmental performance, as well as encouraging all members of the University community to do the same.

8. The University is committed to engaging in and promoting, among all members of the University community, sound environmental management and sustainability practices.

RESPONSIBILITIES

9. The Administration Committee through the Vice-President, Resources shall be responsible for:

  • 9.1 establishing and updating the University’s environmental management and sustainability policy;
  • 9.2 ensuring that the University’s environmental management and sustainability policy and environmental law are actively promoted throughout the University community;
  • 9.3 promoting the establishment of a culture of responsible and effective business, institutional and research practices that minimize environmental impacts;
  • 9.4 ensuring the development and improvement of the University’s Environmental Management System (EMS); and
  • 9.5 ensuring the establishment and maintenance of faculties’ and services’ sustainability plans.

10. The Office of Risk Management through the Environmental Management Unit shall be responsible for:

  • 10.1 developing, establishing, improving and supporting an efficient EMS with environmental management programs and a strong environmental compliance and sustainability culture among members of the University community;
  • 10.2 creating, maintaining and updating records necessary for the effectiveness of the EMS and retaining such records in accordance with the University’s records retention schedule;
  • 10.3 communicating to senior management within faculties and services approved procedures on specific areas covered by this policy and the University’s EMS for application throughout the University in light of environmental law and due diligence requirements;
  • 10.4 assisting senior management within faculties and services in establishing and supporting environmental management programs, including environmental risk management plans (ERMPs);
  • 10.5 assisting supervisors within faculties and services in the development and establishment of directives necessary to ensure adherence to this policy and related procedures and encourage environmentally compliant practices; 
  • 10.6 ensuring that members of the University community with environmental management and sustainability responsibilities fulfill those responsibilities and are accountable for compliance with environmental law and this policy and related procedures and directives;
  • 10.7 monitoring external regulatory developments and the evolution of best practice standards and communicating relevant related information to the University community for incorporation into the University’s EMS and relevant University policies, regulations and procedures, as well as faculty and service directives, as appropriate;
  • 10.8 conducting internal monitoring and environmental audits, communicating non-compliance situations to supervisors and assisting faculties and services with the development and review of action plans to mitigate non-compliance;
  • 10.9 acting on behalf of the University in all communications and exchanges with regulatory agencies concerned with environmental compliance; and
  • 10.10 educating the University community with regard to University-related environmental issues.

11. Facilities through the Office of Campus Sustainability shall be responsible for:

  • 11.1 assisting senior management within faculties and services in establishing and maintaining their sustainability plans;
  • 11.2 assisting managers within faculties and services in the development and establishment of programs necessary to ensure the implementation of this policy and any related regulations, procedures, or directives in order to encourage sustainable behaviours;
  • 11.3 implementing monitoring and benchmarking programs that foster the success of the University’s sustainability initiatives and reporting to external bodies on behalf of the University as required or authorized;
  • 11.4 developing, establishing, improving and supporting an awareness program to foster the adoption of sustainability values by members of the University community; and
  • 11.5 conducting internal monitoring and sustainability audits, communicating non-compliance situations to relevant management, and assisting faculties and services with the development of programs to ensure adherence to their sustainability plans.

12. Deans of faculties and directors of services shall be responsible for:

  • 12.1 allocating sufficient resources to ensure the effective development and implementation of directives, ERMPs and action plans required to ensure compliance with this policy, related procedures and environmental law at the faculty/service level; 
  • 12.2 supporting adherence, within their respective faculty or service, to this policy and related procedures and directives, responding diligently to incidents or related concerns or enquiries, and investigating any related complaints;
  • 12.3 taking corrective action(s), within the scope of their authority, as soon as they are made aware of a circumstance involving non-adherence to this policy, related procedures or directives, or environmental law; and
  • 12.4 ensuring that sustainability plans are developed within their faculties and services that align with the sustainability goals of the University.

13. Chairpersons of departments shall be responsible for:

  • 13.1 supporting the development, implementation, monitoring and updating of faculty directives relating to protection of the natural environment, reduction of environmental impacts and compliance with this policy and related procedures at the departmental level;
  • 13.2 monitoring adherence and taking corrective action(s), within the scope of their authority, as soon as they are made aware of an environmental incident or a circumstance involving non-adherence to this policy, related procedures or directives, or environmental law;
  • 13.3 communicating, at a departmental level, directives applicable to teaching and research activities within the scope of their authority that seek to ensure compliance with this policy, related procedures and environmental law; and
  • 13.4 supporting the provision of environmental management information, training and supervision to workers, students, visitors, volunteers and learners within their jurisdiction.

14. Other supervisors shall be responsible for:

  • 14.1 complying with, and informing persons under their supervision of, this policy and related procedures and directives;
  • 14.2 supporting implementation of environmental management programs;
  • 14.3 monitoring and ensuring compliance, by workers, students, visitors, volunteers and learners within the scope of their authority, with directives specifically applicable to their faculty, service or other University workplace through, inter alia, performance reviews and planning or development processes;
  • 14.4 taking corrective action(s), within the scope of their authority, as soon as they are made aware of a circumstance involving non-adherence to this policy, related procedures or directives, or environmental law;
  • 14.5 controlling environmental risks associated with the work, research, teaching or learning that they supervise and undertaking environmental risk assessments for tasks that are not already governed by a procedure or directive that mitigates potential environmental risks;
  • 14.6 systematically tracking and reporting to the Environmental Management Unit environmental risks, near misses and incidents;
  • 14.7 promptly reporting deficiencies in resources and training to senior management within faculties and services; and
  • 14.8 actively participating in training, inspections and audits within their areas of responsibility.

15. Workers, students, visitors, volunteers and learners shall:

  • 15.1 comply with this policy and related procedures and directives applicable to their activities at the University;
  • 15.2 seek guidance, as the need arises, regarding environmental incident mitigation measures and reporting procedures and directives, and comply with instructions given by incident response personnel;
  • 15.3 follow sound environmental practices at all times;
  • 15.4 report to their immediate supervisor or other person in authority, in a timely manner, any environmental hazard, incident, near miss, or other situation that may lead to an adverse effect;
  • 15.5 not carelessly or recklessly endanger the environment or create a situation that may lead to an adverse effect; and
  • 15.6 take corrective action(s), within the scope of their authority or ability, as soon as they become aware of an environmental incident or a circumstance involving non-adherence to this policy, related procedures or directives, or environmental law.

REPRISAL PROHIBITED

16. No person shall be disciplined, penalized, coerced, dismissed, or suspended because he or she has, in a non-frivolous manner, complied with this policy or environmental law or related procedures, directives or plans.

DISCIPLINE

17. Subject to the provisions of any applicable collective agreement or other University policies, supervisors are responsible, within the scope of their authority, for determining appropriate disciplinary measures for non-adherence to this policy or environmental law or related procedures, directives or plans.

EXCEPTION

18. No exception may be made to this Policy without the approval of the Administration Committee.

POLICY REVIEW AND AMENDMENT

19. This Policy shall be reviewed periodically by the Office of Risk Management in consultation with Facilities to ensure its consistency with environmental law.

20. Amendments to this Policy shall require the approval of the Administration Committee.

Last Revision Date: 25 October 2017

(Office of the Vice-President, Resources)

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