Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University (CSU) is the largest inland university in Australia, with campuses located at Wagga Wagga, Bathurst, Albury-Wodonga, Orange and Dubbo, along with a number of smaller sites. The history of CSU dates back to 1895, with the establishment of the Bathurst Experimental Farm. Formed progressively through the merger of regional institutions in south-western and western New South Wales, the University was formally incorporated in 1989. As one of Australia’s newer universities, CSU has been built on a tradition of excellence in teaching and research spanning more than 100 years.
CSU offers around 400 courses to approximately 30,000 students, of which about 60% study by distance education, and 10% by mixed mode. Around 2,900 students live on campus. CSU’s five main campuses cover a combined area of approximately 460ha of land that is actively managed, with a total building gross floor area of over 270,000m2.
CSU is a community minded organisation with strong links to industry, government and other educational organisation. Courses are developed in collaboration with industry representatives to ensure graduate skills meet industry needs. The University is committed to achieving excellence in education for the professions and to maintaining national leadership in flexible and distance education. CSU prides itself in particular in providing practical, hands-on courses.
CSU continues to expand, with almost 7,000m2 of gross floor area commissioned across the University in 2010. In order to ensure that the University grows sustainably, new buildings on CSU’s campuses have a range of features to minimise energy use, including the following:
- The academic building AA3 at the Albury-Wodonga Campus, makes use of innovative phase-changing materials in the concrete floor to reduce heating and cooling used in the building. The design of this building resulted in it being awarded a 6 Star Green Star – Office Design Certified Rating which represents ‘world leader’ in environmentally sustainable design.
- The new residential accommodation at the Wagga, Bathurst and Albury-Wodonga campuses were constructed using reverse veneer, meaning that the internal concrete walls are shielded from the summer heat by being clad with corrugated iron and a layer of insulation, enabling the buildings to maintain a more constant temperature with less use of air-conditioning.
- New dental buildings and clinics have been built with mixed-mode ventilation systems to reduce reliance on mechanical air-conditioning, external shading to reduce summer heat gain, solar hot water heating and high efficiency lighting.
Sustainability at CSU
CSU values economic, social and environmental sustainability, including the responsible stewardship of resources. Sustainability and global citizenship are central values of the CSU Strategy 2007-2011, and sustainability is one of the four key themes of CSU’s Institutional Development Plan (IDP). The IDP will be succeeded in 2011 by a stand-alone Sustainability Plan that is currently in development. The University has also affirmed its commitment to sustainability through signing the Talloires Declaration, an international action plan for environmental sustainability in higher education.
In 2008 CSU Green was formed to serve as a hub of communication and coordination for the University’s sustainability efforts. CSU Green assists in monitoring what has been achieved, and in promoting and initiating activities. It focuses in particular on the University’s sustainability targets:
- To reduce water use by 25% by 2011
- To reduce energy use by 25% by 2015
- To have 20% of University land used to increase biodiversity by 2015
- To achieve a 70% reduction of solid waste by 2014
- To be greenhouse neutral by 2015
- To increase the fuel efficiency of the vehicle fleet
- To cooperate with communities towards sustainability
CSU has already made progress towards achieving several of these targets, despite the significant increase in building area and student numbers which occurred since 2006. In particular, CSU has already gone well beyond the target for water reduction, with a 47% reduction in water consumption achieved in 2010, compared to 2006 levels.
Staff and Student involvement in Sustainability
Students and staff engage on sustainability issues through CSU’s network of sustainability committees. Students and staff members can nominate to be on the Campus Environmental Committees (CECs), where members share ideas for new initiative, and interact with CSU Green. In addition, a number of environmental groups have been set up by staff and students across various parts of the University, and are supported by CSU Green.
In addition to these formal sustainability activities, CSU Green has an ongoing Calendar of Events which involves the University’s staff and students in sustainability-related events at the University. These events, which often involve the wider community within which the campuses are based, range from tree planting days and sustainability treasure hunts, to participation in national events such as Earth Hour and Ride to Work Day. The Calendar of Events is an important way to spread the sustainability message more widely throughout the University, as well as to promote fun and active ways for people to make a difference in their local environment.
Sustainability Projects at CSU
In 2008, CSU created a Sustainability Fund. Over the past three years, this fund has offered $100,000 annually in grants, through a competitive application process, for small projects that further the University’s commitments towards sustainability. The grants help staff and students to implement changes which improve the sustainability of the University, and are a great opportunity to embrace the creativity and ideas of the wider University community.
University-wide Building Management Information System (BMIS) and Energy Management System (EMS)
In early 2010, CSU implemented the BMIS to allow access to control building systems in any building, on any campus, from any CSU computer using web browser technology. The BMIS is supported by the EMS, which allows real-time monitoring and reporting of energy and access to utility meters and sub-meters.
The system represents a significant opportunity both to track energy consumption, and to remotely adjust individual elements within a building, with the object of maximising efficiency and making cost savings. Energy and cost savings have already been realised from the system, through the identification of irregular energy use trends which highlighted underlying problems that could then be easily investigated and addressed.
Waste management and recycling
In recent years, a closed-loop organics recycling initiative has been established at the University’s Wagga Wagga campus. Organic material is collected from multiple sites, including commercial kitchens, staff lunchrooms, the equine stables and the winery. Several tonnes of organic waste are collected every week, and processed on site into a high quality soil conditioner that is used on the University’s grounds. The system avoids around 200 tonnes of organic waste going to landfill each year, and saves the University over $10,000 in soil-conditioner and mulch.
In addition to the organics recycling system, CSU is working to increase the amount of paper and plastics recycled on campus. A Waste Management and Education Improvement Project is currently being implemented, supported by a $15,000 internal University Sustainability Grant, and an additional $20,000 from the Packaging Stewardship Forum. It is expected that the project will have a significant impact on the proportion of recyclable materials that are recovered from CSU’s waste streams.
Energy and Water Saving Programs
CSU has been successful at winning grants awarded through the NSW Government’s Public Facilities Fund that have been used in combination with funds provided through a $3 million internal loan established to fund identified energy and water saving initiatives. The program has been set up as an internal loan, between the Division of Facilities Management and the Division of Finance, to fund identified projects with an acceptable payback period. This funding scheme provides CSU with a very exciting opportunity to make a large difference to its energy efficiency and environmental footprint.