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ACTS is a non-profit member based organisation representing higher and further education institutions within Australia and New Zealand. We aim to inspire, promote and support change towards best practice sustainability within the operations, curriculum and research of the tertiary education sector.

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2017 Award Categories

Stage 1 applications now open

The 2017 Green Gown Awards Australasia will launch on 3 May and are open to all Australasian tertiary education institutions including universities, TAFE’s, RTO’s and ITPs (Institutes of Technology & Polytechnics). Categories are open to any institution type or size, apart from the ACTS Awards of Excellence which are only eligible for ACTS members. There are three ‘individual’ Awards open for nomination and third party organisations are eligible to submit provided it is in conjunction with an institutional partner.

There have been a number of significant changes for 2017! Most notably the introduction of a 2 stage process. This brings many benefits, mainly a more streamline application process. We also see the introduction of a new category – Research & Development, and a major overhaul of Best Newcomer, now named – Creating Impact. All your old favorite categories are also back, so if you have had your eye on one, now is the time to submit.

CATEGORIES

  • Built Environment
  • Carbon Reduction
  • Community*
  • Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change*
  • Creating Impact – REVISED/NEW
  • Facilities & Services
  • Learning, Teaching & Skills
  • Research & Development – NEW
  • Student Engagement*

Individual Awards

  • Leadership Award
  • ACTS Award of Excellence – Staff
  • ACTS Award of Excellence – Student

*International Category

Generic Criteria

To make a strong application please provide facts and figures to support your application and meet all the criteria within your chosen category. You should also include the following generic criteria:

  • Demonstrate the impact of any measures taken and show documented outcomes
  • Provide clear quantitative data to support claims being made.
  • If submitting under the Carbon Reduction, Built Environment or Facilities & Services categories please include overall tonnes of CO2 saved, (if available for the latter two categories).  Include, where appropriate, metrics such as: carbon savings relative to output/activity. This might be tCO2/student or tCO2/staff member and/or cost of a project relative to the amount of carbon that has been saved, i.e. $/tCO2
  • Provide industry norm versus over and above requirements
  • Applications need to go above and beyond standard practice
  • Document mature projects which have been evaluated and monitored longitudinally. Note: for the Built Environment category, the building must be completed and date of completion included within the application.
  • Explain clearly how the project includes academic staff and/or professional sector staff/support staff, students and include numbers of those involved. Where students and staff are involved, as well as numbers, include how they were involved and what impact/influence they had.
  • If its a joint partnerships or third parties are included please provide details on the roles of all parties and state who is the main driver
  • A small institution is less than 15,000 full time equivalent (FTE) enrolled students
  • Explain any KPI’s that are relevant to your application and any relevant costs/resources, inputs/outputs. For example: Before initiative: 10% of students were engaged. After initiative: 70% of students were engaged.

Category Criteria

Built Environment

This category recognises new or refurbished buildings or student residences in tertiary education which have good energy and environmental performance.

Sometimes buildings fail to perform to their design specifications. As such quantitative evidence of actual performance in practice, and ideally a post occupancy evaluation to identify problems and means of improving them, will be given special weight in judging.

Applications featuring refurbished buildings are especially welcomed, and the difficulties of achieving similar levels of performance to new build will be taken into account in the judging process. Please note that judges will look especially favourably at entries which go beyond normal regulations and compliance.

Judges will be looking for initiatives, that as a minimum, go beyond formal compliance and planning. They will also be strongly favouring those that can demonstrate the community outreach aspects of the project, for example upskilling the workforce through knowledge and skill transfer and improvement.

There is much evidence that the energy and environmental design specifications of buildings are often not achieved in practice. Hence, the judges for this category will put considerable weight on data which shows that this has happened. Please describe the provenance and reliability of data used for this purpose (e.g. actual metered data from X sites within the building). Details and outcomes of any commissioning, quality control and post occupancy evaluation activities which occurred will also be of significant judging interest. Information about problems identified, and responses made, will be seen as a positive commitment to improvement rather than being penalised by the judges (provided that they do not undermine the entire rationale of the application!). All data within the application should use metric units wherever feasible. Normalised figures per square meter of gross floor space should be provided for capital and relevant operating costs (e.g. energy consumption). Capital costs should also be broken down as much as possible (e.g. build, fitting-out, plant, and fee costs) to enable detailed comparisons between applications.

In line with the broader sustainability agenda, judges will be keen to see evidence, if applicable to the project, on carbon emissions reduction. However please note judges will consider how effectively carbon reduction has been applied to the project in a broader sustainability context rather than awarding significant weighting to this element. Therefore, projects not containing this element are still encouraged to apply. Where applicable, provide quantitative data to support claims being made and include overall tonnes of CO2 saved. If appropriate and available, include metrics such as: carbon savings relative to output/activity. This might be tCO2/student, tCO2/staff member or tCO2 /square metre and/or cost of a project relative to the amount of carbon that has been saved, i.e. $/tCO2.

Projects must be completed and commissioned, with the date of completion included in the application form. They must also clearly demonstrate that the building is occupied and used. Applications with clear post completion data will be viewed as stronger applications by judges.

Carbon Reduction

This category recognises initiatives which have achieved a significant reduction in the carbon footprint of an institution through the likes of:

  • Energy consumption and source
  • Waste reduction, recycling and responsible disposal
  • Sustainable travel planning and management etc

Applications are only likely to be successful if they provide considerable quantitative evidence on the nature of the improvements made and demonstrate a causal relationship between activities undertaken and improvements achieved.Applications must also demonstrate real improvement, rather than precursor activities such as foot-printing or setting of targets, which will not be considered.

Judges will also look favourably on applications that can evidence a broader/holistic approach to carbon reduction. Initiatives that address carbon reduction as an integral part of a project, rather than an unexpected outcome are welcomed. Examples could include: policy inclusion; a declaration of commitments, and/or; a detailed project plan.

Clear quantitative data must be provided to support claims being made and ideally include overall tonnes of CO2 saved. Include, where appropriate, metrics such as: carbon savings relative to output/activity. This might be tCO2/student or tCO2/staff member and/or cost of a project relative to the amount of carbon that has been saved, i.e. $/tCO2.

Community 

This category recognises initiatives by tertiary education institutions which create significant benefits for local communities, disadvantaged groups (including disability and accessibility in the broader sense) and/or society as a whole in either Australasia or developing countries. As well as specific initiatives, this category includes institutions taking a leading and visionary role in multi-partner activities such as community development or urban regeneration.

Although all applications will be considered on their merits, the judges will be particularly looking for innovative community engagement initiatives, which have an element of new, proactive, community and social concern, and positive impacts, rather than the very worthy and commendable ‘grass roots’ and ‘business as usual’ activities.

NOTE: Activities which have a substantial student element should be submitted to the Student Engagement category.

The winning entry will automatically be put forward for the International Green Gown Award for Community* 

Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change

This category recognises sustained and successful activities to improve the sustainability performance of tertiary education institutions, faculties and buildings, via a whole of institution approach, over a number of years.

To improve social responsibility and environmental performance through a whole of institution approach, strategic sustainability activities through four main areas must be achieved:

  • Leadership and Governance
  • Facilities and Operations
  • Learning, Teaching and Research
  • Partnerships and Engagement

Applications are only likely to be successful if they provide considerable quantitative evidence on the nature of the improvements made and also demonstrate a causal relationship between activities undertaken and improvements achieved based on the four key areas. Economic cost savings, where appropriate and if available would also be welcome. Initiatives must have been running for at least two years.

Judges will be looking for specific areas where it is felt that the institution is distinctive compared to its peers, and provide supporting evidence of holistic improvement. Tangible evidence of high level commitment, and its incorporation into management procedures, will also carry great weight with the judges.

NOTE: Judges have the discretion to award a small and large institution winner for this category only. (A small institution is defined as having less than 15,000 full time equivalent (FTE) enrolled students). The awarding of two winners is not mandatory and will only be awarded based on applications of a high quality.

The winning entry will automatically be put forward for the International Green Gown Award for Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change.

Creating Impact – NEW

This category recognises institutions that have achieved significant sustainability related outcomes, on campus or within their community, using minimal and/or limited resources. Initiatives need to demonstrate the relationship/link between the quantity of resources used (for example staffing, budget, time) and the level of impact achieved (for example quantifiable changes in behaviours and/or reportable metrics). Initiatives could include: those which can demonstrate significant sustainability achievements (such as sustainable products, processes or learnings) in a relatively short period and/or with a restricted budget, and/or with a small staff base e.g. good progress from a low base. Projects that raise the broader profile of sustainability will be particularly favoured. Applications must show how learning from others has been implemented and for the greater chance of success go beyond legal compliance. Initiatives can cover a single aspect of sustainability or have a multiple focus, including but not limited to: facilities & operations; learning & teaching, research; leadership and governance; community; procurement, and; engagement. However regardless of the topical focus the primary aim of this category is to demonstrate how institutions can still achieve creative and high impact outcomes with limited resources.

Facilities & Services

This category recognises facility and service excellence across an institution and how sustainability aspects are embedded throughout. It incorporates the shared services (in facilities and services) within or between organisations.

Applications should recognise initiatives where significant sustainability benefits have been achieved that are beyond normal practice or legislation. Judges will be particularly looking for initiatives that have ‘win-win’ benefits for both sustainability and performance, e.g. enhanced student experience, improved flexibility of provision. Applications which reflect new approaches, innovation, efficiency and student engagement are welcomed. Applicants should include quantitative and qualitative data to show impact.

Applications must demonstrate the link/relationship between the improved sustainability function of the facility and the resulting improvement of the service it offers.

Initiatives could include:

  • Biodiversity and ground maintenance
  • Catering including restaurants and cafes
  • ICT
  • Laboratories
  • Libraries and learning spaces
  • Procurement
  • Shops
  • Sports facilities
  • Student residences (construction and refurbishment projects should apply under the built environment category)
  • Transport (specifically activities such as fleets and not policy which would be covered under the Carbon Reduction category)
  • Shared services within or between organisations
  • Effective approaches to efficiency in order to overcome duplication or fragmentation.

In line with the broader sustainability agenda, judges will be keen to see evidence, if applicable to the project, on carbon emissions reduction. However please note judges will consider how effectively carbon reduction has been applied to the project in a broader sustainability context rather than awarding significant weighting to this element. Therefore, projects not containing this element are still encouraged to apply. Where applicable, provide quantitative data to support claims being made and include overall tonnes of CO2 saved. If appropriate and available, include metrics such as: carbon savings relative to output/activity. This might be tCO2/student, tCO2/staff member or tCO2 /square metre and/or cost of a project relative to the amount of carbon that has been saved, i.e. $/tCO2.

Applications are also encouraged from third parties such as catering suppliers, waste companies, transport providers, accommodation providers etc. Third party organisations may enter on behalf of an institution, but an institution employee must approve the application. The Award will be made to the institution and not to the third party organisation.

Leadership

This Award is exclusive to senior strategic leadership, at executive or governance level, at a tertiary education institution.

This Award will recognise individuals’ at the most senior level in institutions and those operating alongside them in senior leadership team positions including institutional governance. Recognition will be awarded for a combination of institution-wide impact and powerful external engagement. This Award seeks to identify and recognise transforming leaders who are shaping the future and making the principles and values of sustainability central to their organisation at the highest levels. Economic, social and environmental sustainability should feature appropriately in all core activities and go beyond procedural, compliant and standard practice. Judges will be looking for evidence of a clear high-level strategic approach – firstly how stakeholders at all levels are engaged in powerful strategic conversations, secondly how a truly integrated plan is constructed and communicated and thirdly the leadership of change and innovation to turn ideas into action. This category does not include those who are leading on subsidiary strategies which sit beneath the institution’s over-arching strategic plan.

NOTE: Individuals can complete the application form but cannot apply themselves. The submission must be nominated by a colleague or peer within or outside the sector. Individuals from any tertiary education institutions within Australasia are eligible for submission.

Learning, Teaching & Skills

This category recognises achievement in the development of academic courses, skills and capabilities relevant to sustainability. These can be vocational, undergraduate or postgraduate courses or related to wider purposes such as community involvement, global or environmental awareness or to support lifestyle changes.

Examples of possible application topics include:

  • Effective integration of sustainability principles and/or practices within and across disciplines and existing courses, especially those not traditionally engaged with sustainability;
  • The development of new courses focused on sustainability issues;
  • Use of practical sustainability-related projects or other practical activities within courses including work-based learning initiatives.
  • Training for apprenticeships;
  • Continuing professional development (CPD) activities;
  • Skill-focused courses leading to professional or vocational qualifications;
  • Adult & community learning, and short courses for practitioners and;
  • Demonstrating/implementing sustainability practices in the workplace.

Applications can be made for activities connected with undergraduate or other academic courses if there is a practical focus on the development of specific skills which goes beyond the normal activities of the disciplinary curriculum, e.g. running community-based projects which give students considerable autonomy and develop their communication, management abilities etc.

Research & Development – NEW

This category recognises the importance of the impact of research and development activity by tertiary education as a driver of sustainable development. As claims of impact from research and development can be difficult to judge, entries are sought which:

  • Can demonstrate tangible improvements resulting from research & development undertaken at the submitting institution, rather than the findings or quality of the research & development itself.
  • Can provide quantitative evidence of improvements achieved and resulting sustainability benefits.
  • Can demonstrate a clear and unambiguous causal link between the research & development and improvements/benefits.
  • Provide evidence that the research has been peer reviewed in a robust and transparent process.

Note: Adoption or demonstration measures of the research activity need to show actual results, and will not be considered sufficient evidence by themselves.  Judges would also like to see details on the primary drivers (staff, students, and/or community members ) that have contributed to these achievements. Also in line with the broader sustainability agenda, judges will be keen to see evidence on how the project links with the UN Sustainable Development Goals  and the impact of the project.

Possible activities include:

  • Research & development leading to the mitigation of environmental and/or wider sustainability based impacts related to existing technology.
  • Research & Development that has created new products with demonstrable superiority to existing ones with regards to sustainability.
  • Research & Development that has contributed to the development and positive outcomes of social sustainability issues (e.g. community development, achieving social inclusion).

Eligible entries can include both large-scale projects with major impacts as well as small-scale projects that provide tangible impacts in focused areas/technologies, or amongst specific target audiences.

Note: this category is for research activities that have been undertaken by the submitting institution and either implemented directly or adopted by the wider community. Research findings/technologies implemented but not conducted at the submitting institution are not eligible unless they can demonstrate further continual improvement since adoption.

Student Engagement

This category recognises initiatives which have been developed and/or substantially influenced by students. Activities aimed at raising awareness and changing the behaviour of student groups, staff or communities are favoured. However the relationship between staff and students to ensure maximum understanding and engagement across an institution is essential.

Applications need to reflect that often students and staff work together to achieve these goals using “top-down method” and “grass roots method” to achieve maximum understanding and engagement across an institution. This in turn aids student progress and allows for opportunities to gain transferable employability skills. Activities should demonstrate the student input and the staff commitment and the relationship between the two.

Examples may include:

  • Awareness and communication campaigns
  • Procurement actions
  • Volunteering activities organised by unions, societies and similar organisations within institutions
  • Social media projects
  • Community Initiatives
  • Sustainability reporting and websites

Applications must include the numbers of students and staff involved, how they are involved and what impact/influence they have had. Applications are welcomed from institutions and student bodies.

The winning entry will automatically be put forward for the International Green Gown Award for Student Engagement.

ACTS Award of Excellence – Staff

The Individual Staff Award is open to all staff members, at any level, within an ACTS member institution, who deserve recognition for continued and on-going effort to improve sustainability performance. The individual will have worked hard to implement sustainability initiatives that have had a positive impact on the sustainability achievements of an institution or beyond. This could be through leadership of students or peers, greening of campuses, the sharing of knowledge and/or resources and behaviour change, internally within the community or wider sector and internationally.

Nominations must demonstrate a range of sustainability achievements, over and above normal job requirements, including extra-curricular activities, outside the allocated department/workplace. Applications should provide evidence of scale and impact, and of good leadership/championing practice in engaging and inspiring others.

NOTE: Individuals can complete the application form but cannot apply themselves. The submission must be nominated by a manager or peer within or outside the sector. Winners for this category will be decided by an independent judging panel.

ACTS Award of Excellence – Student

The Individual Student Award is open to any student within an ACTS member institution, who deserves recognition for sustainability related activities undertaken. The individual will have worked hard to be involved in implementing sustainability initiatives that have had a positive impact on their peers, local community or institution. Activities may include campaigning, inspiring and motivating others or championing a cause on campus or outside. If studying a sustainability related topic, activities over and above normal course requirements will be favoured. Initiatives or campaigns through an organised group or union are eligible, with judges favouring those that can demonstrate significant personal involvement or leadership.

NOTE: Individuals can complete the application form but cannot apply themselves. They should be nominated by a peer or superior within or outside the sector. Winners for this category will be decided by an independent judging panel.

Awards Disclaimer: Any student or person working for an ACTS member institution is eligible to nominate or be nominated for the ACTS Award of Excellence, excluding current, serving officers of the ACTS board. However ACTS board member are eligible to submit nominations for eligible participants, the ACTS member council or any other affiliated ACTS working groups are eligible for nomination. ALL submissions will be treated equally and fairly and there will be no conflicts of interest in the shortlisting process. No member of the ACTS board or Member Council will sit on the judging panel to shortlist the applications. The winners will be decided on by a panel of independent judges. The decision of the Green Gown Awards Australasia team is final with the rules of the Awards process followed to the utmost integrity.

** Please note, this information is correct at the time of publishing, however criteria is subject to change until 3 May 2017.

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