ACTS is delighted to announce the finalist candidates for the 2018 Green Gown Awards Australasia and the ACTS Awards of Excellence.

This year’s Finalists, representing over 750,00 students and more than 80,000 staff, from 19 different institutions, are leading the way with their commitment to the global sustainability agenda!

Finalist submissions range from initiatives that are transforming the campus food environment to the development of cognitive office buildings that have the ability to learn and self-optimise for energy efficiency. They exemplify powerful partnerships, allowing one finalist to have the energy needs of their entire campus supplied from a newly commissioned solar PV farm to another facilitating a cultural shift for meaningful integration of sustainability across all curriculum programs.

For the second year running, applicants have outlined how their sustainability initiatives delivered against the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 71% of finalists listed ‘sustainable cities and communities’ as an SDG they are delivering. Meanwhile over half put forward projects that improved ‘quality education’, while just under half are working towards ‘responsible consumption and production’.

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating the achievements of our finalists! We look forward to sharing more about their initiatives in the lead up to the Awards ceremony at the National Wine Centre of Australia on the 1 November 2018. This event is held in conjunction with the 18th International ACTS Conference in Adelaide, SA.

Don’t miss the ‘green tie’ event of the year. Book your tickets now!



Benefitting Society

Community connections impact change – why the Victoria Plus Programme drives the difference

Making the most of the university experience often requires students to step outside their comfort zone, affect change and connect to their community. Since 2008 hundreds of students have opted into Victoria University’s extra-curricular Victoria Plus Programme to do just that. We designed a flexible, inclusive and wide-ranging extra-curricular service and leadership programme to encourage students to get involved, help others and hone their skills. Achieving an award in recognition of volunteering and civic engagement is valuable but even more is the students’ sense of purpose and willingness to continue their involvement well into future life and career.

World leadership in solar –  UNSW Sydney paving the way to the future with 100% PV agreement

In 2018, UNSW signed a 15-year Solar Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA) with Maoneng Australia and Origin Energy which will enable us to offset all our electricity and natural gas-related emissions with solar energy. All our campus’ energy needs will be supplied from a new solar PV farm we have commissioned in regional NSW, bringing jobs and investment to the area.

Our solar PPA has broken new ground in Australia and provides a model that can transform renewable energy procurement across the nation. PPA commercial ‘package solutions’ drawing on the hard work of our consortium are already in the pipeline.

Connecting Community: UQ Sustainability Week

UQ Sustainability Week is an annual five-day festival that aims to engage, educate and entertain the UQ community and beyond on all aspects of sustainability. With its diverse line-up of events and activities, Sustainability Week is a community-focused way of embedding sustainability in the university’s culture. It’s also the largest event of its kind in the Australian tertiary sector, and rivals the size of equivalent international events.

Campus Health, Food & Drink


Off the back of the ABC’s hugely popular WarOnWaste TV series, the CSUWarOnWaste campaign started through a partnership between CSU Green and CHEERS [CSU Healthy Eating Entertainment & Retail Services] to reduce packaging waste from food and beverage services.

With annual sales of approximately 160,000 hot beverages, the initiative diverted 38,816 disposable cups from landfill in the period from August to December 2017, and serving more than 50% of coffees sold in a reusable cup by December 2017.  As of June 2018, a total of 46% of hot beverages were sold in BYO cups embedding a shift in sustainable behaviour and diverting a total of 80,761 cups from landfill at the 10 month point of this ongoing CSUWarOnWaste campaign.  The campaign was rolled-out across nine CHEERS cafés at five campuses (Albury-Wodonga, Bathurst, Dubbo, Orange and Wagga Wagga consisting of targeted marketing and a financial incentive driving behaviour change in customers. Additionally, an achievement of the campaign resulted in plastic bag use at CSU reduced by 100 percent by June 2018.

Setting the Bar

After a ‘bin trim’ audit identified that 55% of the waste generated from UniBar was going to landfill, UOW Pulse knew drastic improvements were needed. An overhaul of the bar’s operations and food and beverage offering was undertaken to reduce the environmental impact of the business resulting in an 84% reduction in waste sent to landfill.

Key components of the project included investing in waste separation stations, a Pulpmaster machine to process organic packaging and food waste; the removal of non-recyclable packaging from operations and replacing with recyclable and compostable alternatives; and introducing an extensive vegan food offering to reduce carbon footprint.

Food @UTAS? Get it from the Source!

Source is a not-for-profit sustainability cooperative. Established in 2005 by a group of students in the Sandy Bay campus of the University of Tasmania, Source is a community-driven organic wholefoods cooperative, permaculture design garden, bustling café, catering provider and community meeting space.

Source has succeeded in providing staff and students with access to food that is ethical, local, organic, wholesome, vegetarian, good for the body and affordable. Source is a real place for students (and staff) to explore what sustainability means, get a taste of what a sustainable food system is, as well as building strong community networks.

Continuous Improvement

Monash Net Zero Initiative

Monash University aspires to lead the Australian tertiary sector and broader community towards a low carbon economy. We have developed a roadmap to a long-term net zero emissions target informed by initial analysis from ClimateWorks’ deep decarbonisation pathways. In October 2017, Monash University made a commitment to achieving Net Zero emissions for all of our Australian built environment by 2030. The delivery of projects to meet this goal is now underway and covers significant energy efficiency projects, electrification of buildings, installation of on-site renewable generation, procurement of off-site renewable electricity, and the deployment of a sustainable Microgrid.

Sustainability @ Melbourne

The University of Melbourne, already a global leader in research and teaching excellence, is committed to embedding sustainability into everything we do. From 2015 the University community has built upon the existing foundations for further significant institutional change in the form of a strategic Framework comprising a Sustainability Charter, Plan and Report.  This is world-leading for a tertiary education institution because it has made commitments, set targets and is delivering results across all UoM activities – Research, Teaching & Learning, Engagement and Operations and Governance. UoM has demonstrated itself to be a premier example of whole of institutional change towards a more resilient and sustainable future.

RMIT University

Ready for Life and Work – an evolution of sustainability at RMIT

2017 marked the 130-year anniversary of the founding of RMIT University, this provided a great opportunity to reflect on the transformational impact we have had on our students, staff and community both then and now.

RMIT understands that sustainability is key to ensuring this legacy not only survives but thrives into the future. With this in mind, it is important to recognise that the University has not only worked for the past ten years to embed sustainability throughout its operations but has revelled in creating impact through practical and meaningful change.

The past three years detailed in this submission, guided by the latest Strategic Plan ‘Ready for Life and Work’, outlines how RMIT has delivered on its sustainable infrastructure commitment, developed more meaningful sustainability activities to engage its community and provided genuine support to embrace its diverse and dynamic population of staff and students.

Skinny Sustainability – Implementing enduring sustainability gains on a bargain basement budget

Auckland University of Technology (AUT) has been on its sustainability journey for a number of years and is progressively making gains in a broad range of key areas namely;  strategy, energy efficiency, low carbon initiatives, sustainable travel, waste minimisation, biodiversity and integrating sustainability and the SDGs into research and teaching. This journey has been strengthened by the support and collaboration of many people both within the university and external to it and has been undertaken with little dedicated financial resource. This application outlines our journey.

Creating Impact

Children’s Voices for Greening Melbourne

Teaching and learning in the 21st Century is based on pedagogical principles that include personalization, participation and productivity. It also places emphasis on the ‘4Cs’, which include collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and communication. Within this context, the children, teachers and families at the University of Melbourne Early Learning Centre (ELC) engaged in an in-depth, year-long study ‘Children’s Voices for Greening Melbourne’; a project that emerged from the children’s engagement in the natural environment, local community and University initiative Green Impact. The ELC community was involved action taking and awareness raising experiences that placed emphasis on the co-construction of knowledge within an interventionist paradigm, with the aim of producing an innovative, contemporary and stimulating program that reflected current theory and practice in environmental education and 21st Century teaching and learning.

TropEco: Creating a Culture of Sustainability at JCU

JCU’s TropEco program has been embedding a culture of sustainability at JCU for the past 7 years, implementing on-going, high-profile successful initiatives and empowering staff and students for sustainable outcomes.

Student and staff engagement is a key focus of the program, with two encompassing programs empowering students and staff to achieve sustainable outcomes.

The student TropEco Interns program has seen over 150 students complete internships since its inception in 2014, working on projects across broad disciplines including; biodiversity, energy, water, waste management, transport, student and staff engagement, governance, business development art, community gardens and ICT.

The Sustainable Office Accreditation Program has engaged over 500 staff since 2016 to implement sustainable activities through a structured accreditation program.

University of Tasmania focuses on sustainabil-IT-y

Over the past five years, the University of Tasmania IT Services team has demonstrated its continuous commitment to sustainability. Key initiatives include video communications improvements, new procurement and contracting arrangements, policy governing computer lifecycle and disposal, implementation of online Shared Services forms and approvals solution and deployment of a new on-site Managed Print Service. These and other initiatives have not only improved student and staff experience, but have helped achieve our sustainability objectives to reduce University-related travel, energy use, paper use, waste to landfill, and carbon emissions. This is crucial for the University’s commitment to maintaining our carbon neutral certification.

Learning, Teaching & Skills

Beyond Responsible Strategy – Leading the Future of Sustainable MBA learning and teaching

In 2017, Griffith was a Green Gown Finalist based on a project of turning the MBA competitive business strategy into a course centred on responsible strategy. We have embarked on significant further projects since then and this application summarises our ambitious initiatives towards a sustainable MBA program. MBA programs across the world continue to teach business subjects focusing on financial performance gains. We have made it our mission to change this with a focus on responsibility and sustainability in our MBA program. Our efforts build an innovative, responsible and sustainable business path for students that aligns with our core values.

Cognitive Office Buildings – Monash Industry Team Initiative (MITI)

This project was a pilot project in the development of a Cognitive Building; one that has the ability to learn and self-optimise for energy efficiency using data sets. The project was sponsored by Honeywell and paired a group of four interdisciplinary students from Monash University with the task of analysing the large data pool acquired through IoT devices in the university’s smart buildings. The successful pilot was able to drive energy efficiency and save up to 27% energy with no negative impact to occupant comfort.

Bringing about a cultural shift for meaningfully integrating sustainability across mainstream curricula in Deakin Business School

Senior executive, academic and professional staff across portfolios at Deakin Business School are collaborating to integrate scaffolded development and assessment of sustainability capability across all our programs. Sustainability has become a major consideration in our strategic plan and major curriculum enhancement initiatives to improve graduate employability. More than 150 core unit chairs have reflected upon practical strategies for enhancing sustainability integration in their units. Through innovative projects with industry engagement, our students are engaging the wider community with sustainability issues. Our innovative approaches have been recognised for excellence locally, nationally and internationally.

Student Engagement

VUW Sustainability Week: Learn to Live Sustainably

In May, students at Victoria University of Wellington hosted the university’s first ever ‘Sustainability Week’ of environmental action and events.  Campus was abuzz with thirteen events, daily action station activities, eco-giveaways, an art competition, a dedicated ‘Sustainability Special’ of our student magazine and opportunities galore to learn about today’s most pressing environmental issues and take action. The result was incredible student engagement, with over 1,000 people attending events and more than 30,000 reached via Facebook.  The organising committee, comprised of six student clubs, has since established a formal Sustainability Committee within our Student Association to work on long-term sustainability initiatives.

Campus Co-Lab: Creating opportunities for students to drive change on campus

Campus Co-Lab has changed the way Massey University engages with students. It allows them to co-create with other students and staff using human centred design and enables students to lead projects to make change to their student experience. Out of the number of projects that went through the process, about half was sustainability focused. The Wā Collective has decreased waste by selling affordable menstrual cups, ‘No Throw’ has reduced waste by selling keep cups and the Massey Fruit and Veg Co-op encourages eating fresh local produce by selling $12 bags of produce packed weekly on campus.

TropEco Interns: Empowering students through experience

James Cook University’s TropEco Interns program provides opportunities for JCU students to gain hands-on, practical workplace based experience, while advancing sustainability at JCU.

The Interns program has been running since 2014 and has hosted over 150 student intern placements with over 5000 hours volunteered on sustainability projects across a broad range of disciplines. TropEco Interns complete a structured program and can gain four levels of certification, with ongoing mentoring, support and professional development provided by experienced TropEco staff. The extra-curricular program prides itself on creating workforce ready students and provides the flexibility and support for students to achieve their sustainability goals.

Monash Borrow Cup – Monash Community making Monash Sustainable

Students’ desire to be part of the solution and not part of the problem lead to the creation of a world first for a University, multi-café, Borrow Cup Scheme for take-away coffees.

Following a call out from the Sustainability Team at Monash, students took on the challenge to remove disposable cups from our campuses. Our combined desire, skills set, experience and influence led to the development and implementation of a borrow cup scheme that involved several cafés and hundreds of students and staff.

The scheme reduced disposable coffee cup use by 70% in participating cafés and there are plans to broaden the scheme with the goal of being disposable coffee cup free on all our Australian campuses by 2020

Fair Food Challenge

Fair Food Challenge is a student-run initiative at the University of Melbourne with an aim to transform the campus food environment to a more healthy, fair, equitable and sustainable system. The Challenge runs a series of projects such as community kitchens, a serving ware re-use service, a portable bike kitchen, community lunches, food waste workshops and free fruit boxes in the library. As well the team conducts research, facilitates community feedback and empowers students to participate in university policy decisions that shape the future of the institution.

Sustainable Campus

La Trobe Regional Campus Solar

La Trobe has recently installed solar PV systems on all appropriate roofs at its regional campuses (including Shepparton, Mildura, Albury-Wodonga and Bendigo) to generate renewable electricity onsite.

Helping to reduce the University’s consumption of electricity generated by the burning of fossil fuels, the program of works has helped with energy security and avoided related greenhouse gas emissions and supply costs.

Sustainability Squad – Sustaining a Community

Campus Engagement has worked with a number of student groups whose ambition was to make a difference on campus and create sustainable practices. Much like the seasons, these groups came and went. The Sustainability Squad appeared like a small seedling that needed nurturing. Together we have established a buzzing harvest hub on campus that has grown into more than just cheap fruits and vegetables.

The Sustainability Squad is the voice on campus for sustainable practices and has planned initiatives such as book swaps, clothing drives and co-op swaps to reduce waste on campus and support local businesses. With an understanding of the vibe on campus, Campus Engagement has worked closely with the Sustainability Squad to provide support and guidance with their events so that they could make their events stronger and far-reaching.

Acting as a consultative committee, the Sustainability Squad also provides advice and recommendations to Campus Engagement.

Zeroing in on zero carbon

We are living our goal of being a good global citizen by sparking a change that will cut our total carbon footprint by a third by 2020 and propel our main Dunedin campus more than halfway towards being zero carbon. We saw a 20% drop in tCO2-e from our single largest source of emissions in five months, by initiating the transition from coal to wood at the district scheme that supplies steam and heat to our Dunedin campus.

Individual and Team

ACTS Award of Excellence Staff

Alice McAuliffe (Coordinator Learning and Projects UTS ART)

Indigenous plant garden Waraburra Nura is a roof top sanctuary in the heart of Sydney that showcases medicinal plants from the Sydney area. Developed with the input of Indigenous students, academics and local elders it is designed to help transfer living and practiced Indigenous knowledge to both Indigenous and non-indigenous people. Along with an associated website, tours and workshops the garden puts indigenous knowledge in the heart of the UTS campus, helping ensure that ‘aboriginal education’ is a two way journey. Nonindigenous Australians have much to learn from Australia’s first people.

Harsh Suri (Senior Lecturer Learning Futures)

Facilitating a cultural shift at Deakin Business School for meaningful integration of sustainability across all our programs: I have been harnessing synergies between sustainability capability and employability skills to engage senior executive, academic staff, professional staff and students with a multi-pronged approach to scaffold development and assessment of sustainability capability across all our programs. Sustainability has become an integral aspect of our strategic plan and major curriculum enhancement initiatives. Through workshops, individual conversations and a web-based survey, I have engaged unit chairs of more than 150 core units to reflect upon practical strategies for enhancing sustainability integration in their units. By working on projects with industry engagement, our students are engaging the wider community with sustainability issues. Our innovative, nuanced and contextualised approaches to sustainability integration in curricula have been recognised for excellence locally, nationally and internationally.

John Pederick (Facilities and Operations Manager, Faculty of Science)

John is currently the Facilities and Operations Manager, Faculty of Science at the University of Melbourne (UoM).  John has been a sustainability champion and driver for change across the university for many years.

He has strived to reduce waste and be sustainable in all aspects of his day to day activities, primarily by re-using recycled furniture and products, by reusing as much of the existing infrastructure on campus or ensuring it is available for recycling. He also tries to take a more inclusive approach and considers the broader sustainability activities, including water use and energy efficiency, by thinking about the consequences and impacts of projects and renovations on the environment, on people and our community. John strives to get involvement and buy-in from all the ‘clients’ – academics, professional staff and students.  He is particularly motivated to enable student ideas and student involvement in sustainable improvements – as they are the leaders of the future.

ACTS Award of Excellence Student

Rachel Hay

My main goal is to facilitate communication of the collective student voice on sustainability to multiple levels of the University. To deliver this outcome, I organised a series of engagement events to connect students passionate about sustainability, and understand and communicate students’ views on how their university could be more sustainable, with carbon neutrality being a major point. To communicate this vision (through speeches, statements, petitions and discussion), I organised the ‘Student Perspectives: A Carbon Neutral UTAS’ forum in 2017 and invited the Vice-Chancellor (VC), who listened to the student voice and announced at the event that UTAS would become certified carbon neutral that year. I have also represented the student voice as the Fossil Free UTAS observer on the Sustainability Committee, supported the Sustainability Team to draft the new Strategic Framework for Sustainability and as a SIPS Fellow have investigated the feasibility of a UTAS bike share program.

Eleanor Percival

Eleanor is (over) involved in a smorgasbord of activities and groups on campus that promote sustainable production, education, reducing waste and supporting the individuals who get food from farm to fork. From delivering free fruit to students and running policy creation lunches with Fair Food Challenge, to hosting working bees and garden workshops for beginners at the Melbourne University Community Garden, and organising camps and a Climate Hack with the Postgraduate Environment Network, Eleanor has an insatiable appetite for all things food and sustainability! She is a highly enthusiastic and friendly leader and active participant across multiple sustainability initiatives. To be able to work with so many other inspiring individuals is the icing on the cake and keeps her motivated.

Shruti Verma

The empowerment of young people to be confident contributors to their future is what I aspire to achieve during my time here in Australia, notably at Deakin University. As an international student from India, I was initially ignorant of the sustainability challenges around me until the opportunity for me to assess the current state of Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability (ERS) activities with Deakin Business School. I did not only generate a report that assisted my School to better integrate ERS values into its daily operation, but also had the opportunity to implement new initiatives to empower my peers to be more engaged with sustainability activities. Inspired by my school experience, I become a Volunteer Student Director at Bendigo Bank’s community bank and utilise my role to better engage with youth on sustainability challenges. I intend to use my knowledge and experiences to promote greater awareness about sustainability in India.

Outstanding Leadership Team

Campus Engagement

Campus Engagement has worked with a number of student groups whose ambition was to make a difference on campus and create sustainable practices. Much like the seasons, these groups came and went. The Sustainability Squad appeared like a small seedling that needed nurturing. Together we have established a buzzing harvest hub on campus that has grown into more than just cheap fruits and vegetables.

The Sustainability Squad is the voice on campus for sustainable practices and has planned initiatives such as book swaps, clothing drives and co-op swaps to reduce waste on campus and support local businesses. With an understanding of the vibe on campus, Campus Engagement has worked closely with the Sustainability Squad to provide support and guidance with their events so that they could make their events stronger and far-reaching.

Acting as a consultative committee, the Sustainability Squad also provides advice and recommendations to Campus Engagement.

RMIT Sustainability Committee

RMIT University has a long-standing commitment to incorporating sustainability into its core activities of teaching, research and operations. The RMIT Sustainability Committee was formed in 2009 and provides the leadership, coordination and guidance to the University for integration of sustainable principles and practices. The membership is broadly based across the whole University including all three academic colleges, learning and teaching development, research, student life and students.

In 2018 the RMIT Sustainability Committee highlights have been the development and implementation of the University’s responsible investment principles and the University commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Additional to this the Sustainability Committee has funded a position to support the coordination of University research towards the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and a Fair Trade Coordinator to support the University’s longstanding commitment as a Fair Trade University.

The Committee also continues to drive the observance of all external sustainability commitments and reporting under the Global Reporting Initiative frameworks.

University Executive team

From mid-2015 to early 2017, the University of Melbourne community built the foundations for institutional change in the form of a strategic Framework comprising a Sustainability Charter, Plan and Report. The Framework is world-leading for a tertiary institution because it makes commitments and sets targets across all University activities – Research, Teaching & Learning, Engagement, Operations and Governance.

The process to develop the framework, led by the Sustainability Executive and Chancellery team, has been powerful in fostering wide-reaching buy-in, uniting faculties and individuals across the institution. The Sustainability Executive, chaired by the CFO, was set-up to monitor the development and implementation of the Framework, with members drawn from Chancellery, University Services, academia and students.