In 2011, Cape Breton University opened the $31.7 million Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment (VCSEE). The 35,000 sq ft building houses modern research laboratories, a 144-seat lecture theatre, and collaborative workspaces. Constructed with sustainability and efficiency at its core, the facility features green design elements, rainwater collection, solar hot water panels, and geothermal systems. Compared to similar facilities, it is estimated VCSEE will realize a 50% decrease in consumption.
In January 2016, CBU opened a 6.9MW wind farm, establishing a new revenue stream for the university by selling energy to Nova Scotia Power under the province’s Community Feed-in Tariff (COMFIT) program. Currently, the university generates more electricity than it consumes.
In 2020, Cape Breton University and the Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment completed the largest solar installation on Cape Breton Island. The project saw approximately 500 solar panels installed on the Canada Games Complex through three power purchase (PPA) agreements for 50kW of solar photovoltaic (PV) each. The agreements were awarded in 2017 as part of the Solar Electricity for Community Buildings Pilot Program.
In July 2021, Cape Breton University revitalized an existing walking trail on campus, transforming it into a year-round natural 18-hole Disc Golf Park, the first of its kind within any post-secondary institution in all of Canada. Accessible to the broader Cape Breton community, it further enhances outdoor recreational opportunities in the area and can be accessed via the Grand Lake multi-use path. In developing this course, the removal of trees was minimized, leaving them as natural obstacles, and those trees that were removed were chipped and spread throughout the course, feeding the soil and reducing waste.
Founded in 2013, Cape Breton University’s Community Garden is an initiative of faculty, staff, students, and community members. Through collective engagement in gardening, participants aspire to create awareness and promote action around issues of sustainability, healthy living, and community building. In addition to being a place for a quiet lunch in the warmer months, the garden is a space for launching collaborative teaching and research projects that allow the CBU community to reflect on its own practices around sustainability and to link our university with initiatives in the broader community and globe.
In 2019, Cape Breton University launched a new Bike Share initiative. The first of its kind in Cape Breton, this program enables members of the CBU community to borrow bicycles free of charge for use in the area and to access nearby amenities via the Grand Lake multi-use path. The bike fleet is made up of 25 branded bikes and helmets, which can be booked via the Koloni.me app. CBU Bike Share was made possible in part by provincial funding of $30,000, as well as contributions by Velo Cape Breton and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
In 2019, Cape Breton University installed water bottle fill stations across campus. With 50+ locations for students, faculty, and staff to refill their water bottles, the institution hopes to significantly reduce the number of single-use plastic bottles consumed on campus. Each bottle fill station displays the number of bottles saved at each station, improving awareness of how small habits can have big impacts when it comes to sustainability.