University balances budget for fifth year, includes green fund initiative

Tick icon, vector illustration. Flat design style

By Kayla Perry, Editor-in-Chief

The price of operating and enhancing a university is arguably large: to be exact, for 2015-16 alone, the university’s operating budget has been approved at $147.7 million.

The budget was officially approved on June 19 during a Board of Governors meeting. It’s approval marks the fifth consecutive year the university has successfully balanced its budget.

“In recent years, we have built a solid foundation to support the university’s aspirations,” said Dominic Giroux, Laurentian University’s President and Vice-Chancellor, in a June press release issued by the university. “We are well-positioned to move forward with a balanced and strategically-focused growth plan that responds to the needs of the communities we serve today and in the future.”

The budget has increased by a total of seven million dollars from the 2014-15 school year.

Aspects of the balanced budget include budget increases to multiple departments and faculties – including a 42 percent increase in the Office of Research Services, which will allow the department to assist with grant applications and preparation, a 14 percent increase in the Student Services budget, and a 12 percent increase in the Information Technology budget – and an allocation of $115.5 million to capital transformation to be completed in 2016.

According to the press release, the aforementioned capital transformation will include the renewal of 34 classrooms, a Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research lab, and investments for deferred maintenance projects.

The budget also allocates one million dollars to a new ‘green fund’, in which projects aimed at positive environmental impact and financial payback for the university will be solicited from the school’s community.

Kati McCartney, Manager of Energy and Sustainability at Laurentian since May 2014, worked closely with her office to create the fund, which McCartney referred to as a “big win” for sustainability at Laurentian during a phone interview.

McCartney noted that the department is working on the first pilot project, which can be expected to launch in the first half of 2016. The pilot will be used as a “guinea pig”, and will provide detailed instructions on how members of the university community can submit projects, and how the project would be implemented, among other things.

“The goal is to have everybody and anybody who is interested and at the university (submit a project), including students, faculty and staff,” said McCartney. “The criteria will be very clear when it is rolled out in the documentation, but the idea is a revolving green fund. The project will need to either reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, our utility consumption, or (some other) kind of good innovation.”

Each project successfully submitted must also outline the ways in which the project will provide a financial payback to the university, if implemented – for those who would like assistance in producing these calculations, McCartney said her office will be available to help.

“We have such a positive gain if we divert waste properly, or save energy, or have good outreach campaigns,” said McCartney.

This green fund comes after the application of several sustainability initiatives at the university, only some of which include the first electronic waste recycling on campus through the Tech Hub, the composting of Great Hall food waste, and the Good Move Out campaign which was held at the end of last school year, through which unwanted furniture, food and clothes were donated locally.

More information and updates about sustainability at Laurentian can be found via the twitter handle @SustainableLU.