Following an endorsement by the Board of Governors to move toward an active environmental and socially responsible governance (ESG) investment strategy for the University’s Endowment Fund, Trent is moving forward with a number of steps to play its part in a more sustainable future.
As part of the active investment strategy, the University is in the process of reviewing fund managers with an emphasis on those who bring ESG expertise. The selected managers will pursue positive returns for Trent investments while prioritizing assets in sectors, companies or projects that are taking active steps to address climate change – such as reducing GHG emissions, using cleaner energy sources or minimizing waste – helping mobilize more resources toward efforts that are reducing the impact of the economy on the environment.
Ultimately, ESG investments will strengthen and protect the security of the funds in the endowment, which support many of the University’s educational initiatives, while ensuring that Trent’s investment decisions help to mitigate impacts of climate change.
“The world is currently watching the discussions and debate about how to address the climate crisis in Glasgow at COP26, in particular about the role that public and private finance can play in establishing and advancing socioeconomic ideas that are beneficial for the environment, social and economic wellbeing and good governance,” said Dr. Leo Groarke, president and vice-chancellor of Trent University. “Trent University is proud to be making decisions about our endowment funds in a way that fulfills our fiduciary responsibilities at the same time that it builds on our long history of promoting a better world socially and environmentally.”
The decision by the Board of Governors this October to move toward an active strategy prioritizing ESG for all of the University’s endowments builds and greatly expands on a decision made back in 2015 to establish a socially responsible investment (SRI) category for up to 10% of then-existing endowment fund assets. The SRI endowment category was guided by the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment, which integrate environmental, social, and corporate governance factors into investment analysis and decision-making.
Building on a history of environmental leadership
In recent developments, Trent has taken a number of steps to reduce the environmental impact of campus operations, including a partnership with Ameresco to install various energy efficiency upgrades, such as an on-site Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) on the University’s Peterborough campus, to further reduce our carbon footprint, while supporting the provincial energy grid.
This fall, Trent was also awarded the 2021 Business Excellence Award in the Green Initiatives category from the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce for the University’s Forensic Crime Scene Facility. Opened in 2020, this first-of-its-kind professional forensics training building constructed on a Canadian university campus aims to be Canada’s first zero-carbon building certified by the International Living Future Institute. And on November 1, Trent Food Services brought back the Ecotray, a reusable take-out meal container that helps eliminate one-quarter of the waste created from single-use meal containers – one of the most popular and effective on-campus waste management programs. Trent University dining is one of only two certified Canadian universities to receive a “3 Star Certified Green Restaurant” designation for two of its dining facilities.
Trent continues to be nationally recognized for environmental leadership, having ranked as the third most sustainable university in Canada.