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    Australia's most sustainable universities revealed in 2016 Green Gown and ACTS Awards

    Finalists for the 2016 Green Gown Awards Australasia and the ACTS Awards of Excellence have been announced across 10 award categories.

    The winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony on Thursday 3 November 2016 at the stunning beachfront surf club in Mooloolaba, QLD.

    Awards will be given across the following categories: Built Environment, Carbon Reduction, Community Innovation, Continuous Improvement – Institutional Change, Facilities & Services, Learning, Teaching & Skills, and Student Engagement.

    Individual awards will also be given for Leadership, ACTS Award of Excellence – Staff, and ACTS Award of Excellence – Student.

    Built Environment - Sponsored by Envizi

    University of Tasmania: Inveresk Student Apartments – Nurturing the Future

    The University of Tasmania’s Inveresk Apartments project is an innovative, environmentally, economically and socially sustainable student accommodation facility at the Inveresk campus, Launceston. The development consists of two three-storey buildings containing 120 new studio apartments and support facilities. The project is bold – both aesthetically and in the innovative prefabricated, modular, technology of its construction, with each apartment having a full lightweight-timber frame. The project aligns the similar goals of a range of stakeholders to deliver a facility that brings benefits to the University, the City of Launceston and the local construction industry.

    The University of Queensland: Living Building - The University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute

    The award-winning Global Change Institute (GCI) is an international flagship building for sustainability. Zero-energy, carbon-neutral and designed to operate in harmony with its natural surrounds, the GCI embodies UQ’s commitment to embedding sustainability across all aspects of campus life. While GCI researchers work across four key areas to address the global challenges facing us today (clean energy, food systems, healthy oceans and sustainable water), the building itself is a vital research tool, open to weekly tours for school students and other members of the public; it’s also an innovative example of sustainable design that could influence the architecture of tomorrow.

    Monash University: Monash University are Passive House Pioneers

    Monash University has renovated a dilapidated asbestos clad warehouse at the Clayton campus into an innovative energy efficient, vibrant and comfortable open office space for their Buildings and Property Division. The building uses Passive House design principles to create an office space, which has a low energy demand, high indoor environment quality and a rooftop 70 kWp solar array. The solar array currently generates 63% of the building’s energy requirement. Through building tuning and behaviour change measures, Monash is working towards further reducing the energy demand to achieve energy neutrality. This project is one of the first large office buildings in Australia to aim for Passive House performance and energy neutrality.

    Carbon Reduction - Sponsored by Conservia

    The University of Queensland: Carbon Reduction in the Sunshine State - The University of Queensland’s Solar Program

    UQ’s innovative solar program has established the university as one of Australia’s largest solar energy generators, with almost 47,000 PV panels totalling 5.8 megawatts of installed capacity and still growing! This infrastructure is reducing UQ’s emissions by more than 7,750 tonnes per annum – equivalent to taking around 3,000 cars off the road. The solar arrays generate 8.4 million kWh of electricity – equivalent to 1,450 average homes – and save UQ more than $1 million every year. The solar program also provides a valuable teaching and research asset that is engaging with the university and wider community in helping to reduce emissions.

    Federation University of Australia: FedUni’s Greener Buildings Program

    To June 2016, FedUni has allocated $1.9 million of its own funds to introduce the Greener Buildings program aimed at reducing GHG emissions and operating costs. The program focused on energy efficiency, staff travel and landfill waste. The program has been a huge success with GHG emissions reduced by 17% (or 3,959 tonnes) and financial savings of $572K per year.

    In addition to the GHG emissions reduction the University also achieved the following savings in 2 years: reduction in electricity consumption by 13% (1.6 million kwh); reduction in natural gas consumption by 15% (10,121 gj); reduction in waste to landfill by 14% (67 tonnes); increase in recycled waste by 19% (41 tonnes); reduction in pool vehicle fuel consumption by 19% (42,787 litres); reduction in air travel by 22% (304 tonnes); and increase in Victorian public transport spend by 80%.

    University of Melbourne: Energy Reduction Program – Towards Carbon Neutrality by 2030

    The University of Melbourne’s Energy Reduction Program has implemented over three hundred projects, which deliver annual savings of $3.13 million and over 200,000 tonnes of saved carbon dioxide (t CO2-e) emissions since the program started in 2008. The University secured a landmark $9.1m loan from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to continue the transformation of our campuses towards a sustainable future – and ensure that we reach our goal of Carbon Neutrality by 2030.

    Charles Sturt University: Just like the Swiss, we are officially neutral!

    CSU is the first, and currently the only university in Australia to achieve certified carbon neutrality. We are one of only 23 Australian organisations to be officially recognised for reaching this national standard. We have continued our downward trend in greenhouse gas emissions over the past nine years from 177kg CO2-e per square metre in 2011 to zero in 2015.

    CSU sought Carbon Neutrality status through the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) administered by the Department of Environment (DOE). As defined by the DOE, Carbon Neutrality is achieved when “Net greenhouse gas emissions of an organisation, a product, service or event are equal to zero”.

    RMIT University: Sustainable Urban Precincts Program

    There’s a quiet green revolution taking place at RMIT in Melbourne, where a $98 million urban sustainability project – the biggest of its kind in the southern hemisphere – is underway. The Sustainable Urban Precincts Program, is a “once in a generation” opportunity for the University to achieve a fundamental shift in momentum towards true sustainability. The program will generate valuable intellectual capital, creating a ‘living laboratory’ which will accelerate skills development and enhance industry capabilities in sustainable urban futures.

    Community Engagement

    La Trobe University: Pallet Perfection: Life Skills training and wood reuse and upcycle partnership

    Pallet Perfection brings new life to old wood and helps empower those with disabilities to develop skills and capacity to gain work experience. The program removes ‘dis’ from disability, proving that young people have the ability to create beautiful upcycled furniture. In addition, the program has the added benefit of removing items from landfill and turning it into something both sustainable and useful.

    The University of Queensland: Seeds of Change - Riverbank Restoration at The University of Queensland

    By partnering with the university community, the State Government, and local NRM groups to plant around 12,000 native seedlings at UQ’s St Lucia campus, one of Brisbane’s busiest urban spaces, this project has restored habitat for threatened species (particularly birds) by creating wildlife corridors that offer food and shelter. It has also removed hundreds of kilograms of plastic waste from mangrove areas of the Brisbane river. The project is not only a useful case study for improving biodiversity in urban areas, but also represents a valuable community engagement opportunity for UQ: two of the three tree-planting stages were carried out by staff and student volunteers, and the restored riverbank presents UQ students and researchers with ongoing scope for ecology and environmental management learning, discovery and engagement.

    University of Technology Sydney: Tune in: making sustainability radio

    THINK: Sustainability is a weekly radio program produced in collaboration with radio 2SER and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) sustainability team, students, and faculties. Co-hosts Jake Morcom and Ellen Leabeater are young and engage listeners in their own personal journeys of exploration, discovery and participation. The tempo is upbeat, fun and solutions focused. Each 30-minute episode consists of three distinct stories, with the hosts linking interviews with experts to their own personal experience. Think waste to wealth, grids to growth. From what’s possible to what’s practical. THINK Sustainability. Every Sunday on 2SER 107.3 and on podcast.

    Continuous Improvement - Sponsored by Veolia

    Griffith University: Griffith’s sustainability approach – planned, focused, celebrated!

    Griffith University’s sustainability approach is planned, focused and celebrated. Our Sustainability Plan incorporates economic, environmental and corporate social responsibility in executive management, human resources, teaching, research, community engagement and operational practices. All areas are striving toward sustainability KPIs and outcomes.

    Outcomes:

    30% energy usage below sector average plus renewable energy initiatives; A Unified Collaboration project installed 7000 video phones and upgraded 60 video conferencing facilities, significantly reducing travel needs between our five campuses. Estimated savings just from video conferencing in 2015: $1,590,577 in staff and travel costs; Sustainability Teaching Network established; Sustainability Week and Staff Sustainability awards introduced.

    University of Technology Sydney: UTS Think.Green.Do

    Over the past 10 years UTS has steadily improved its sustainability performance, with initiatives including integrating sustainability into high level strategic plans, strategies and policies; Green Star certified “living lab” buildings, the Think:Sustainability radio program and social equity programs. Through its research, teaching and learning, operations and community engagement, UTS has achieved successful outcomes and made significant progress towards sustainability by minimising its environmental impact, promoting social justice and maintaining financial viability.

    University of Waikato: Going Green @ Waikato

    ‘Going Green’ @ Waikato encompasses all aspects of sustainability. It is a broad and engaging programme that reaches thousands of staff, students and the community. Our unique projects: POW! ‘Prevent our Waste’ videos have been viewed worldwide, The Eco Emporium run by students, gifts unwanted items to the community, and teaches skills on upcycling and repair, WASTED has resulted in 30 tonnes of waste being diverted from landfill in a year, and Imagine Sustainability, culminated in broad outreach and collaboration with several hundred stakeholders. Our Prius C hybrid car fleet (48) is one of the largest in NZ. Our savings & funding last year were approx. $130,000.

    Facilities & Services

    The University of Queensland: Driving the Future - Electric Vehicle Fast Charging at The University of Queensland

    In early 2016, UQ installed Queensland’s first solar-powered electric vehicle (EV) fast-chargers. This infrastructure is free for staff, students and the general public to use in order to help encourage the uptake of EV travel. The Gatton campus fast-charger is now also making regional EV travel possible for the first time in Queensland. In the first three months of operation, the chargers have already been used hundreds of times, delivering 9,000km worth of energy – enough to drive from Brisbane to Perth and back. This has saved nearly 1,000 litres of fuel and over 1,700 kilograms of CO2-e.

    University of the Sunshine Coast: Smart Utility Management = Smart Savings for USC

    Since 2012, USC has experienced a 20.1% growth in footprint and 42.5% increase in student enrolments. To address the increase in utility consumption, a range of innovative financial and engineering initiatives have been implemented to proactively manage utilities including: reassessment of electricity charges, installation of smart metering/control systems and installation of lake water treatment technology for the Sports Stadium pool make-up water and cooling towers (as part of the air-conditioning system). This has resulted in significant environmental and financial savings since 2013 including utility cost savings of $1.5 million, 7140t CO2-e emissions and 20,000 litres per day in mains water use.

    La Trobe University: Fleet Management 2.0 - Car Sharing with the Local Community

    La Trobe University has transitioned from a traditional organisation owned and managed vehicle fleet to an innovative fleet management solution in partnership with a car sharing scheme, which has reduced operating costs, improved staff/user experience and increased the access to car sharing opportunities for students and local communities. Which builds on the carbon offsetting program already put in place to ensure all vehicle emissions are offset through the purchase of Australian native forest regeneration off-sets. A program that has led to ongoing research projects based in the forests and undertaken by researchers within the University’s School of Life Sciences.

    Learning, Teaching & Skills

    University of Tasmania: SIPS of sustainability lead to lifelong addictions - Sustainability Integration Program for Students (SIPS)

    One way the University of Tasmania embeds sustainability is via our Sustainability Integration Program for Students (SIPS), which is a best-practice example of place-based education recognised with institutional, national and professional awards. SIPS provides authentic student learning experiences via collaborative design of learning programs that address on-campus operational priorities. To date, SIPS has involved 76 projects, 975 students, 32 staff, 12 discipline areas and all Tasmanian campuses. Through curricular, extra-curricular and research projects, SIPS engages students by guiding input to solutions for real-life challenges. Via SIPS, students develop and use disciplinary skills to highlight positive sustainability impacts of their learning.

    James Cook University: Mainstreaming Sustainability in Teacher Education Through a Systems Approach - 10 years in the Making

    Over 10 years, educators from James Cook University, Queensland University of Technology and Griffith University have developed a holistic framework for the embedding of sustainability. Focused on teacher education, the framework is applicable to other disciplines and consists of a systemic model for radically reorienting teacher education towards sustainability, a guide to support implementation, a handbook of in-depth case studies, two reports and professional development workshops that, collectively, portray efforts and outcomes of implementing education for sustainability (EfS) in a range of different settings. The framework is novel in that it goes beyond individual EfS initiatives within a single discipline or university to radically re-orienting a whole system towards EfS.

    University of Melbourne: Sustainability Teaching and Learning – Research and Demonstration Program

    The Early Learning Centre (ELC) is a specialised research and demonstration kindergarten attached to the University of Melbourne. It is situated in Abbottsford, Melbourne – next to the Collingwood Children’s Farm and the Abbottsford Convent. The ELC is a vibrant learning community where children, families, teachers and researchers work together to contribute new knowledge and understandings to the theory and practice of instilling environmental values via early childhood education.

    Student Engagement

    RMIT University: Trace the Bean

    This project involved Melanie Lazelle, a Master of International Development student and RMIT’s Fair Trade Coordinator visiting the supply chains of some of RMIT’s fair trade products merchandise in India. The project highlighted the impact of fair and ethical trade on people along the supply chain; RMIT’s impact as a Fair Trade University; and how students at RMIT can have an impact through their purchasing power. It has created links for future engagement with students and fair trade, and the results are being used as evidence to improve RMIT’s operations in support of ethical procurement, and increase student awareness and support of ethical trade.

    Western Sydney University: Inspiring Students Nationally - “HOPE for the Future” – Students for Sustainability Conference

    “Sharing sustainable solutions that are practical and being implemented by students – actual, fundamental change!” Participant evaluation, 15-16 September Western Sydney University, Hawkesbury Campus. The “HOPE for the Future”: Students for Sustainability Conference succeeded in its’ aim of empowering and connecting undergraduate students nationally on vital sustainability issues in a supportive, professional atmosphere. Western Sydney University student volunteer Justin Whittle volunteered for six months with the Office of Sustainability to produce and inspire undergraduate student participation. The conference drew 110 attendees and 33 presentations from 17 universities across 4 states and is an outstanding exemplar of inter-disciplinary learning and collaboration.

    Victoria University of Wellington: Vic Energy – Inter-Hall Energy Saving Competition

    In 2015 second year student Bethany Paterson developed and launched Vic Energy – an energy saving competition between two Halls of Residence. The project was developed by students for students. Cumulatively the two Halls saved 18,000 kWh of electricity (2,500 kg of CO2) and the competition reached 4,291 people through Facebook. The financial savings were used to buy pool bikes for the Halls. The project also provided the basis for academic work through an independent study paper and a summer scholarship with the Psychology department. It is being repeated again in 2016 – this time with 4 more Halls.

    The University of Tasmania: A Source of Inspiration - Source Community Wholefoods as a playground for student engagement with sustainability

    Source is a not-for-profit sustainability cooperative. Established by a group of Geography and Environmental Studies students, Source is a wholefoods cooperative, bustling café, educational centre, and creative playground for students to come together (with each other, academics, professional staff and the community) to discuss and create new sustainability ideas and projects.

    University of Waikato: Going Green @ Waikato - 4 students

    Going Green @ Waikato encompasses many aspects of sustainability, especially student engagement, which plays a key part in our sustainability journey, via research, course work, quirky projects, community outreach, volunteering and competitions. We have delivered projects as diverse as: community gardens and worm farming, waste audits, building of solar powered composters, fun educational films, Zombies!, ecological education with schools, junk to art, surveys, and a student run Eco Emporium. Approx. 3000 students have been engaged and involved. These projects occurred 2013-2016.

    Leadership

    Professor John Dewar - La Trobe University

    Professor John Dewar commenced the role of Vice-Chancellor and President of La Trobe University in January 2012. Since then, he has successfully let a major organisational change program, transitioning the University to a financially sustainable operating model; developed and implemented the University’s Future Ready strategy and supporting Sustainability Plan; embedded the ‘sustainability thinking’ essential across all undergraduate coursework; established sustainability-focused research focus areas in food security and social justice; replaced 30% of the University’s fleet vehicles with GoGet car sharing vehicles for use by staff and students; successfully lobbied the Victorian government for a dedicated express bus from the Reservoir train station to the Melbourne campus; and drove the University’s commitment to divest from the top 200 coal, oil and gas companies within five years. Professor Dewar shows extraordinary leadership and commitment to sustainability in all aspects of teaching and learning, research and operations at La Trobe University.

    Professor Lesley Hughes - Macquarie University

    Distinguished Professor of Biology and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Integrity & Development), Lesley Hughes has been an incredible influencer, policy maker, and change agent, particularly in relation to climate change. Not only does she work tirelessly at Macquarie University to influence the conversation around sustainability – particularly in research – she is also heavily involved in numerous activities of high importance and output. Lesley is an amazing motivator and has the capacity to influence and inspire everyone she meets. With a wicked sense of humour, and a clear sense of what is right, Lesley is a formidable force that has had significant impact not only on the higher education sector, but the state of the world more generally.

    Professor Paul Gough - RMIT University

    Professor Paul Gough is Pro Vice-Chancellor and Vice President, College of Design and Social Context at RMIT University. Paul has chaired the RMIT Sustainability Committee since he joined the University at the start of 2014. Over his two-year tenure of the Committee great strides have been made to broaden the definition of sustainability, placing greater emphasis on social responsibility. Paul has created a space for more productive dialogue and increased transparency on the University’s sustainability performance and a focus on meaningful engagement with students.

    ACTS Award of Excellence – Staff

    Ben Pike - The University of Adelaide

    Ben Pike is discreetly leading sustainable change on campus through grassroots projects using best-practice technologies to support world class teaching and research. Ben’s role as Technical Services Manager in the School of Agriculture, Food & Wine, puts him in a unique position to create sustainable change. Engaging daily with executives, academics, researchers, students and professional staff across the campus to support their work, Ben is leading a variety of transformations including water efficiency in the vineyard, low carbon transport, and reuse and recycling.

    Danielle Rostan-Herbert - The University of Melbourne 

    Throughout her role as Sustainability Manager, now as Sustainability and Environmental Services Manager, Danielle has shown leadership in sustainability not just within her immediate team, but throughout the University and other tertiary networks. Danielle plays an important role in the University of Melbourne’s Sustainability strategy and is responsible for University-wide targets to reduce energy, carbon, water and waste.

    Daisy Amanaki - University of Technology Sydney 

    Daisy Amanaki has worked in the UTS IT department for 20 years and recently coordinated the donation of three shipping containers of classroom furniture and equipment to schools in the Cook Islands. Working entirely in a volunteer capacity she initiated the project, liaised with the Department of Education in the Cook Islands to broker the formal agreement, developed a crowd-sourced fundraising website to help cover shipping costs, and co-ordinated community and student volunteers to pack the shipping containers. With triple bottom line benefits the project diverted material from landfill, provided five schools with new furniture, and improves the educational prospects for kids in the Pacific.

    ACTS Award of Excellence – Student

    Emily Newton - The University of Melbourne

    Emily is an active advocate for holistic sustainability. Prolific in her endeavours both on and off campus, Emily volunteers in the community, studies in the Master of Environment program, and works in the Sustainability Team at the University of Melbourne. With a particular focus on waste education, she enjoys showing people the true impact of their consumption and waste. Emily has demonstrated a relentless desire to go above and beyond what’s expected of her: Planting trees, cleaning beaches, auditing waste for her local council and the University, organising events to promote Fair Trade, as well as programs to increase re-usable coffee cups.

    Terese Corkish - University of Technology Sydney

    Tess Corkish is a final year global studies and communications student at UTS. She is a warrior and innovator in the climate change movement. As Youth Engagement Officer at Catholic Earthcare Australia she has run workshops around Australia for approximately 15,000 school students, and is an active member of 350.org and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC). She participated in both the Emerging Leaders Multifaith Climate Convergence in Rome in 2015 and World Youth Day in Poland in 2016. Tess believes climate change is fundamentally a moral and justice issue and is passionate about recruiting the world’s religions to accelerate the transition to a safer climate future.

    Thomas Crawford - University of Tasmania

    Tom is a gentleman of sustainability - one who does what he says he will do and does it well standing firm in his beliefs but always engaging with respect. He is passionate about social and environmental justice and is thoughtful, considered, polite and passionate in his activism. Tom’s passion permeates every part of his life: his studies have focused on sustainability, particularly UTAS and Tasmanian specific food waste problems and solutions and he has since gone on to win a grant from the local council to establish a community composting hub. In 2015 as a founding member of Fossil Free UTAS, Tom participated in a student sit-in demanding that the University divest from fossil fuels. Tom is also the President of the UTAS Environment Collective and a key member of Source Community Wholefoods, the on-campus cooperative cafe and sustainability education centre. Initially Tom was involved as a shop volunteer, then became a Board Member in 2013 and in 2014 set up a micro-enterprise coffee co-operative focused upon serving quality organic Fairtrade coffee.

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