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Be Green


A sustainable foundation

AMS members told us loud and clear that having a sustainable student building was important to them, so we made it our priority to build a LEED Platinum certified building. This, rather ennobling certificate, is an international stamp of excellence in energy and resource-efficient buildings, putting The Nest high up in the ranks of green buildings in North America. Designing the building to have minimal impact on the environment became the solid foundation for us to run a green society and advocate for a greener campus community. From our food and beverage operations to all the initiatives, projects and funds initiated and administered by the AMS Sustainability office, we are always striving to make measurable reductions in our environmental footprint. That’s why we implemented a waste recycling program, introduced the Sustainability Projects Fund (SPF), purchase eco-friendly products, use local suppliers where possible, eliminated plastic straws in many of our food outlets, and continue to looks for ways to reduce the use of individual-use containers, even recyclable ones.


To ensure our ongoing sustainability efforts are successful and that student-involvement remains at the core of it all, there’s a very important wing of the AMS, creatively named ‘AMS Sustainability’. As the sustainability office of the AMS, it has two key roles:
  • To provide connections and resources to students wishing to complete their own sustainability related projects, through the Sustainability Projects Fund (SPF).
  • To create and coordinate in-house Sustainability Initiatives to build upon the environmental and social responsibility of the students at UBC Vancouver.


Dani Stancer AVP Sustainbaility SUSTAINABILITY@AMS.UBC.CA
Ian Lin Sustainability Projects Coordinator SUSTAINprojects@AMS.UBC.CA
Solomon Atta Sustainability Funds Administrator SUSTAINADMIN@AMS.UBC.CA

The Nest and AMS Operations

The Nest

How did we achieve LEED Platinum certification?

  • We didn’t install mechanical air conditioning. Instead, fresh air is pumped through the floors while hot air out rises to the top and is displaced out of the building. This is called passive air conditioning.
  • Greywater is used to flush our toilets. Nothing new here, just makes sense to use the water we washed our hands with to take away our waste.
  • We use rainwater as well. This waters some non-edible landscaping and also gets pumped into our cooling system.
  • Our building envelope is pretty thick, which keeps it warm when it should be and cold when it should be. Just like a big thermos.

AMS Operations

Generally-speaking, the bigger the organization, the bigger the negative impact it can have on the environment. We understand that the scale of the AMS, with its nine food outlets; building tenants; catering and events operation; hundreds of staff members; and footfall through The Nest; means we could cause some serious environmental harm; but we try our best not to. We started with a building that achieved the highest green building rating in North America, and this laid some serious eco-friendly foundations for ongoing sustainable practices throughout the AMS.

Food and Beverage

As the second largest provider of food services on campus, the AMS Food and Beverage Department is committed to providing healthy and sustainable food on campus, supporting applied learning on food-related issues, reducing waste, and fostering positive changes through staff training, menu design, and various community events. 100% of the net profits are funneled back to the AMS to fund valuable services and resources for students at UBC, including: SafeWalk, Speakeasy, SASC, Tutoring, the Food Bank. Your everyday dining choices make a difference on campus and beyond.

We source local and in-season food whenever possible. For example, when in season, much of the vegetables come from the UBC Farm, Delta, and only as far as the Fraser Valley. Being surrounded by oceans, we are constantly reminded how precious they are and in a bid to look after the health of our oceans for generations to come, we only source and serve Ocean Wise fish. From our fresh sushi to our beer-battered cod, it all comes from a sustainable fish source. The eggs we serve are cage free, and have been since 2008, and we’ve proudly served Fair Trade, certified organic, shade grown coffee since 2004.


Each year, AMS operations and business produce approximately 400 tons of waste. Minimizing waste remains one of the top priorities and challenges for the Impact Working Group. Various internal and collaborative actions have been taken to tackle this challenge.
Student Union Building Waste Audit: with funding support from AMS Impact Committee and UBC Sustainability Office, a two-phase waste audit was conducted in 2009 to better understand the waste stream at the Student Union Building and identify next steps to minimize waste.

Re-use and reduce before you recycle! Recycling should be a last resort, and the AMS first encourages, and practices, reducing and reusing first as these are the ideal steps to decreasing waste. As an incentive, customers who bring their own mug to Blue Chip Cafe for hot drinks receive a $0.25 discount. If you forget your re-usable coffee cup, rest assured that all our single-use coffee cups are 100% recyclable. As of November 2009, all plastic cutlery and 1000ml foam containers were replaced with compostable ones and in 2010 we were able to make the switch to 100% compostable containers.

We also compost 100% of our pre-consumer food waste and have installed tri-bin waste stations around the Nest, which includes a post-consumer composting station in a bid to encourage consumer to take part in this ecofriendly process. All napkins are made from post-consumer recycled material and we are almost 100% plastic straw free! Straws are only available on request.

All AMS employees are strongly encouraged to lead by example and use reusable containers and service ware from the office kitchen to reduce the use of disposable containers.

Teaching and Learning

AMS Food and Beverage Department has actively supported and worked with AGSCI 450 teaching team and students, UBC food system project coordinator, UBC sustainability office, and SEEDS Program manager, in designing collaborative research projects, providing ongoing support, and implementing findings and recommendations. Some projects include:

  • A Lighter Footprint menu line called LOV (Local, Organic, and Vegan) in 2008 to raise awareness of the impact of everyday food choices and help customers make more informed purchasing choices.
  • An initial monthly “Eco-Friendly Day” to promote the LOV product line, which has been expanded to a monthly Eco-Friendly menu that features the most in-season LOV items.
  • Implemented AGSC 450 proposals on recipe development, procurement, waste reduction, and awareness campaigns.

AMS Sustainability Projects Fund

Sustainability Projects Fund

The AMS Sustainability Projects Fund (SPF) was established in September 2011, when UBC students passed a successful referendum to support student-initiated sustainability projects through a $2.52 per student fee each year. The SPF encourages an environmentally conscious culture, by funding student-led projects that reduce the ecological footprint of UBC students and their campus. In the past, we have funded projects for as much as $10,000! Any UBC student is more than welcome to apply.

To learn more or apply for funding visit the Sustainability Projects Fund page.

Student-led Initiatives

Found throughout the Nest

We work with various student groups to create and install projects that add further sustainability and design elements to The Nest. These works of art can be seen throughout The Nest and serve as beautiful examples of student-led initiatives. Our work to reduce our footprint on the planet never ends and we’re always looking for more ideas to cut down our impact. At the end of the day, there’s no Planet B.


Runoff is a student-led project that is located on Level 1 of the Nest. It symbolizes water as a shared resource; one that is not simply consumed, but that filters from one environment to another, taking with it any pollutants encountered on the way. The structure serves to draw awareness to the problem of industrial and agricultural runoff, the danger this runoff poses to the environment, and our society’s interaction with water. Runoff is a structure of wood, steel, and aluminum consisting of a series of suspended garden platforms over a rock filled basin. The gears on top invoke a sense of industrialization and control while the garden platforms play the role of the green and natural ecosystems. From the top of the structure, water flow cascades through each of the garden platforms to the basin at the bottom. The pool at the bottom reflects the bodies of water into which all water flows; and the water used in Runoff recirculates similar to the natural processes that govern our environment. The goal of the display is to give a sense of the scale that water plays in our lives and encourage discussions of our interactions with it.

Roots on the Roof

Roots on the Roof is a student-run club that manages the rooftop garden space and the community garden plots on the roof of The Nest. They run a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, host events and workshops, operate a market stand during the growing season, and have gardens available for community members to use. Founded in 2014, they are focused on creating community-minded experiences and opportunities for personal empowerment that also incorporate concepts of food justice and food security. They facilitate student and community capacity around food by producing food as sustainably as possible, and by hosting events and workshops that encourage interactions around food, culture, health, and sustainability. By engaging with UBC’s diverse community, they hope to provide an avenue for knowledge sharing that enables dynamic ways to approach food system issues.

Interested in joining the club or want to learn more? Check out their site:

Citypod Invessel Composter

The Citypod is a 6 meter long biodigester that was installed and operational in the loading bay of the AMS Student Nest in November 2014, as part of the Nest initiative to form a closed-loop system of waste inside the building. Pre-consumer organic waste from the AMS kitchens is fed to the Citypod and turned into compost in just a few weeks. The Citypod was purchased from a Quebec-based company, called Vertal, and was the first machine to be built by them at the time of purchase. The Citypod was a project that arose out of the AMS Composting Program that was a long succession of voluntary student projects that began with a handful of red-wiggler worms in a bin in the AMS kitchens.

Digital Waste Management

As a means of measuring solid waste production at the SUB, a digital waste management system was developed by a group of electrical and computer engineering students, consisting of a floor scale, button panel and computer software backend. The system allows the weight, specific waste stream, the date and time of the disposal of the waste to be recorded and saved on a server. The system aims to be cheaper and faster than the alternative of conducting periodic waste audits, all the while being safe and easy to use. The system now allows the AMS to track and monitor the amount of waste that the Nest is producing, which creates the building blocks for the AMS to then reduce the amount of waste produced.


A team of mechanical engineering students collaborated with SEEDS to design and install a charging station called the SEEDS solePower Station, an area where students can produce their own electricity for charging their electronics. The station is made up of two bicycle seats and pedals, and a tabletop with plugs, to allow students to charge any type of electronic device by pedaling. The goal of the station was to increase student engagement and increase education. In order to increase student engagement, the charging station is designed to become easier to pedal when two students are pedaling, as opposed to one. Secondly, the station exposes students to the process of energy generation and transportation.

Revolving Gardens

Revolving Gardens is a student-led university collaboration with the SEEDS Sustainability Program and AMS Sustainability that is located outside the Great Hall on the Second Floor of the Nest. It was entirely designed, built, and installed by UBC mechanical engineering students in their final year. Much like the Earth, the Revolving Gardens mirror our dependency on both rotation and sunlight to sustain life.  Solar energy provides the power required to rotate the pods, as well as providing a direct energy source for the plants themselves. By rotating when exposed to light, each plant receives an equal amount of direct sunlight. The entire system is drip irrigated and requires minimal maintenance thanks to the modular design of the plant compartments.

The Student Driven Sustainability Strategy

AMS LightER Footprint Strategy now ‘Student Driven Sustainability Strategy

The AMS Lighter Footprint Strategy name was changed in 2018 for two reasons. The acronym LFS created confusion because it’s the same acronym as the faculty ‘Land and Food Systems’. Secondly, and most importantly, the name AMS LFS was changed to AMS SDSS because AMS Sustainability valued the student input that allowed for the creation of this document. The name ‘AMS Student Driven Sustainability Strategy’ reflects the importance of voicing student values and opinion in AMS strategies. This document previously focused specifically on ecological sustainability and attempted to provide a comprehensive Strategy for how the AMS can become a more environmentally sustainable organization. In the 2017-2018 revamp, the definition of sustainability was expanded to include social sustainability and attempted to provide a more comprehensive understanding of how our natural environment and our social well-being are deeply connected. This document outlines the impacts of the AMS and opportunities where we have the greatest sphere of influence. It also defines a set of targets and metrics for each target that will guide the AMS in reducing its negative impact. This document is a resource for any future AMS leaders to implement the recommended initiatives that will make the AMS a more sustainable and just organization and build on the progress made each year. The SDSS is meant to be a comprehensive and integrated strategy for the student government to incorporate into all their departments to reduce negative their impacts as an organization and act as leaders for a sustainable future.