UNSW Sydney celebrates the final year of its Environmental Sustainability Plan 2019-21

This World Environment Day, we are proud to release the UNSW Environmental Sustainability Report 2021 and update our UNSW community on the progress of our Environmental Sustainability Plan 2019-2021.

| 05 Jun 2022
UNSW Sustainability Report 2021

Marking 50th Anniversary of the World Environment Day, we are proud to release the UNSW Environmental Sustainability Report 2021 and update our UNSW community on the progress of our Environmental Sustainability Plan 2019-2021.

The 2021 Report highlights the actions our University has taken in the past year, and over the life of the plan, to help secure a more sustainable world.

Of the 22 targets in the plan, 15 targets were achieved by the end of the report period and one target was partially achieved, demonstrating the impressive achievements of the Sustainability unit within Estate Management, in collaboration with students and staff across faculties and divisions.

Key achievements

Key achievements highlighted in the Environmental Sustainability Report 2021 include:

  • Our credentials in solar technology featured strongly in 2021. Scientia Professor Martin Green was awarded the renowned Japan Prize, recognising decades of his revolutionary work in photovoltaics (PV), which has transformed the solar PV industry.
  • The installation of six electric vehicle (EV) charging stations on the rooftop of the Botany Street car park at our Kensington Campus. This EV facility, one of the largest in Sydney, is powered by solar PV cells using the Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) technology invented at UNSW in the 1980s and is now used in more than 85% of solar panels worldwide.
  • The launch of Plastic Free Dining, an initiative to phase out single-use plastics from retail food services on campus.
  • Further steps to reduce and segregate waste, with new recycling systems rolled out for food waste and soft plastics.
  • Building on the UNSW Sustainable Development Goals Toolkit launched in 2020 to help academic staff incorporate sustainability thinking into their course content, two new continuing professional development modules were created in 2021.
  • Further progress to reduce our total emissions in line with our 1.5˚C-aligned target of a 30% reduction by 2025 and 50% reduction by 2030. Our progress to date saw UNSW Sydney listed as a finalist in the 2022 Banksia National Sustainability Awards under the Net Zero Action category.
  • Investment decisions taken in 2021 materially reduced portfolio emissions intensity and fossil fuel reserve holdings.
  • Alumni Park was brought to life, showcasing native planting and indigenous artwork. Approximately 2250 native plants were carefully chosen to complement the site and provide additional tree canopy. Native flora was supplied by specialist First Nations nursery IndigiGrow, who advised, curated, grew and installed the planting for the Park.
  • Water audits were completed on the 20 most water-intensive buildings, focusing on leak detection, assessment of WELS rating of existing fixtures, and cooling tower and plant room audits.
  • Seventy-six new Teams-enabled meeting rooms and 18 hybrid meeting rooms were delivered, supporting virtual and hybrid working and learning environments.

These 2021 accomplishments are only a small sample of UNSW’s progress towards our environmental sustainability goals.

The University’s Environmental Sustainability Plan 2022-2024 is now being finalised. This plan will continue to drive our ambition to lead local, national and international efforts to ensure an environmentally sustainable future.

World Environment Day 2022

2022 marks 50 years since the Stockholm Conference which led to the designation of 5 June as World Environment Day.

This year the World Environment Day theme, ‘Only One Earth’, focuses on the need to live sustainably in harmony with nature by bringing transformative changes – through policies and our choices – towards cleaner, greener lifestyles.

Join people around the world, build you Earth Action Number, and share your impact with the world.  #OnlyOneEarth