History & Achievements

Our Story

In 2003, a group of three undergraduate students at Simon Fraser University (SFU) united around a common vision: transforming SFU into a truly sustainable university. From this vision arose the "Sustainable Campus Coalition" (SSC), whose mission was to form a SFU Sustainability Advisory Committee that would ensure sustainability is at the heart of decision-making at the university.

In 2004, the SSC undertook its first major steps to fulfil its mission and launches an SFU-wide Sustainability Assessment Package. The assessments were conducted by students across various disciplines and formed the foundation for the discussion regarding the creation of a SFU Sustainability Advisory Committee.  

By 2006, the SSC had built up a strong and powerful presence at SFU. After three years of successful campaigning, advocacy, and lobbying, the SSC achieves its original mission as SFU creates the Sustainability Advisory Committee. To continue to expand its presence and effectiveness on campus, the SSC decides to rebrand and adopts the name "Sustainable SFU" (SSFU).

In 2009, it was evident that SSFU was becoming the voice for students on sustainability issues. A major milestone was achieved as SSFU officially incorporates as a non-profit organization to increase its transparency, accountability, and its capacity to support student sustainability initiatives.

In 2010, acknowledging the achievements of SSFU in advancing sustainability and representing student interests, undergraduate students successfully pass a referendum to become members and financially support the organization. Shortly thereafter, in 2011, SSFU elects its first Board of Directors – consisting solely of SFU students – to bring greater direction, oversight, energy, and enthusiasm to the non-profit. With a secure funding base now in place, SSFU significantly expands its programming and campaigning, launches new grants for students, offers regular free workshops and events, and increases its lobbying efforts at SFU and in the community.

After a year of achievements and recognition, graduate students of SFU successfully pass their own referendum in 2012 and become members of the organization. SSFU now represents more than 30,000 student members on social, environmental, and economic sustainability issues. It's first action is a big one: SSFU secures land to construct a community garden at SFU Burnaby.

From 2012 to 2015, SSFU focuses on building its capacity to represent students. It successfully secures seats on several important decision-making bodies, including SFU's Senior Sustainability Council, Sustainable Mobility Advisory Committee, Cycling Subcommittee, Food Education and Awareness Committee, and Peer Advisory Committee. Programming expands to 20-25 free events each year, and two funds are established to award more than $10,000 in grants to SFU students each year. SSFU also decides to financially support the launch of a new, innovative program for student learning: CityStudio.

By 2015, SSFU has secured a large presence on campus – and, to the general public, is often confused with the SFU Sustainability Office. Sustainable SFU's Board of Directors strike a committee – composed of Directors, students, and staff – to lead the organization through a rebranding process. The committee focuses on the evolution of SSFU and its strengths in empowering students to lead sustainable change, both now and into the future. From this notion, a new name and identity is born: Embark Sustainability Society ("Embark"). 

From a small and humble beginning, Embark has grown to represent a diverse membership base of more than 35,000 members. With the continued support of our membership, we are able to advance sustainability at SFU – and empower students to lead the way. 

By the numbers

Here's a snapshot of what we've accomplished since 2012.

Coordinated Events



Grants Distributed



Student Projects


Number of Members







Summary of achievements

Established and provide two separate grant funds open to all SFU students, from which we have collectively awarded $65,192 to more than 50 student projects since 2012; Have offered an average of 6 paid work positions to students each year;

Have trained dozens of students through the Peer Program – an 8 month intensive program where students implement sustainability projects at SFU while being provided with professional development workshops;

Gained a seat on SFU’s Senior Sustainability Council to represent student interests – the only seat for such a purpose;

Gained a seat on SFU’s Sustainable Mobility Advisory Committee to represent student interests, and advise the university on matters pertaining to sustainable transportation;

Have offered an average of 6 paid work positions to students each year;

Facilitated and helped launch SFU’s zero waste policy;

Established and operate a community garden at SFU Burnaby, which has more than 25 active university groups tending to plots;

Consulted 526 students from November 2015 - February 2016 to create the university’s first ever Student Sustainability Vision, which served as the primary student input into the university’s next Sustainability Strategic Plan (2017-2021);

Established and currently chair SFU's Cycling Subcommittee to advance cycling infrastructure to and from SFU;

Hosted 95 free events for students since 2012, ranging from career nights to Bike to Work Week commuter stations to Community Kitchens;

Ran a Harvest Box Program which distributed boxes of fresh, healthy, local, and affordable produce to an average of more than 350 students each year;

Recently launched the Food Rescue Project, which collects produce from Nesters Market and redistributes it to SFU students;

Have secured a commitment from the university to build a cycling commuter station at SFU Cornerstone

Have represented and advocated student sustainability interests from the local to national level, including lobbying local politicians to support the proposed gondola and coordinating an open letter from post-secondary students calling for the Prime Minister and Premiers to undertake meaningful climate action (with 526 signatories from 57 post-secondary institutions and counting)

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