UNSW unveils its ambitious plan for a sustainable future

To mark World Environment Day on 5 June, UNSW launched a new plan that will see the University build on, embed and deepen its commitment to environmental sustainability.


The Environmental Sustainability Plan 2019-21 (ESP) is designed to address UNSW’s key environmental issues and defines commitments, targets and activities across 10 focus areas including climate action, waste and recycling, and energy and water efficiency.

UNSW will switch to 100 per cent renewable electricity and its buildings will net zero emission in operation by 2020 as part of the new three-year plan. UNSW will expand onsite solar energy generation, design new buildings to operate without fossil fuels and introduce centralised waste collection in offices, saving an estimated one million plastic liners annually.

The ESP was developed following an internal review and consultation process which involved more than 350 students, professional and academic staff and government representatives during 2018.

Launching the University’s Environmental Sustainability Plan on World Environment Day, UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs said the plan sets out a strategic roadmap towards best practice in the higher education sector.

“Our planet is currently facing a series of complex environmental challenges, from pollution of land and oceans to biodiversity loss and climate change.

“UNSW is a major investor, consumer and landholder and our Sydney campuses form part of the daily lives of some 62,000 students and more than 6,700 staff. The University has the scale of a small city, so it is right that we grow and invest like any sustainable city would, with a responsible and clear plan.”

On World Environment Day UNSW launched a new Sustainability website including information about how to get involved in sustainability at UNSW. The Green Impact program provides individuals and teams with the opportunity to have a positive impact through simple day-to-day actions, while an Environmental Sustainability Yammer group has been established  for  UNSW staff members to join the discussion, share ideas, celebrate Green Impact achievements, and more.

“UNSW’s research, learning and teaching programs aim to address environmental challenges that are critical to the future of our planet, and our staff and students are passionate about environmental issues. The ESP sets out a roadmap for integrating environmental sustainability best practices on our campuses,” UNSW Head of Environmental Sustainability William Syddall said.

Will said UNSW will also establish a pathway to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

“Once we have eliminated greenhouse gas emissions from building energy use by 2020, our focus will turn to indirect sources of emissions such as travel, embodied emissions and purchased goods and services,” he said.

“We hope this plan inspires not only our University community but the wider community to take action for a sustainable future.”