Welcome to ACTS

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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Award Categories

The 2014 Green Gown Awards Australasia are open to all Australasian tertiary education institutions including universities, TAFE’s, polytechnics and private RTO’s. All categories are open to any institution type or size, apart from the ACTS Awards of Excellence (including two individual awards) which are only eligible for ACTS members. Third parties are eligible to submit provided it is in conjunction with an institutional partner. _ There are two new categories for 2014 – The Best Newcomer Award, which recognises those at the start of their sustainability journey and Facilities & Services which aims to award those embedding sustainability measures into all areas of campus life. The Awards will launch on Tuesday 3 June 2014! We hope everyone will find a category suitable for the worthwhile initiatives they are undertaking.

International Green Gown Awards

For the first time, the International Awards will be announced in Australasia! Australasian winners will compete with the UK for the coveted International Green Gown Awards title. For the third year, winners will go head to head in the same three categories. No separate application form is needed, winners from each Award scheme will automatically be put forward. The judging criteria will be based on the project as a whole, with the ultimate deciding factor being which project has the biggest scale of impact (dissemination, replication, within and outside of the sector, national and international reach).


ACTS Awards of Excellence

* In collaboration with Learning & Teaching Sustainability (sustainability.edu.au) and The Office of Learning & Teaching

Generic criteria:
Comprehensive ‘guidance notes for participants’ will be made available for applicants as well as the conditions of entry, however, new for this year and to ensure you submit a strong application, we have highlighted the following key criteria for success:

  • Demonstrate the impact of any measures taken
  • Provide clear quantitative data to support claims being made. If submitting under the Carbon Reduction category, please 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
  • Include savings made relating to carbon related issues
  • Demonstrate the impact of your initiative and show documented outcomes
  • Provide industry norm versus over and above requirements
  • Document mature projects which have been evaluated and monitored longitudinally
  • Explain clearly how the project includes academic staff and/or professional sector staff/support staff and include numbers of others involved including students
  • If joint partnerships or they include third parties please provide details on the roles of all parties and state who is the main driver

**Category Criteria:

Best Newcomer – NEW

This category recognises institutions that are starting their sustainability journey and is only open to those who have not previously been a Green Gown Award Australasia finalist. Initiatives could include those which have achieved significant sustainability achievements in a relatively short period and/or with a restricted budget, e.g. quick wins, good progress from a low base in a short period of time. Applications must show how learning from others has been implemented. Applications must show substantial commitment from senior management and go beyond legal compliance.
Note: This category is not open to previous Green Gown Award Australasia finalists and winners.

Carbon Reduction *Sponsored by Envizi*

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 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.

Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change

This category recognises sustained and successful activities to improve the sustainability performance of tertiary education institutions, faculties and buildings at a holistic level, over a number of years. Applications are likely to be successful if they provide considerable evidence on the nature of the improvements made and also demonstrate a causal relationship between activities undertaken and improvement achieved. Initiatives must have been running for at least two years.
It is especially difficult to judge this category so please help by highlighting the key 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. Other examples include: strategic planning, leadership, learning & teaching, research, facilities management and links with the community. The key message is that activities are undertaken at an institutional level.
The winning entry will automatically be put forward for the International Green Gown Award for Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change.

Facilities and Services – NEW

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. Initiatives could include:

  • Biodiversity and ground maintenance
  • Catering including restaurants and cafes
  • ICT
  • Laboratories
  • Libraries and learning spaces
  • Procurement
  • Shops
  • Sports facilities
  • Student residences
  • 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

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.

Learning & Teaching *Sponsored by Learning & Teaching Sustainability*

This category recognises achievements in education for sustainability in undergraduate, postgraduate and vocational courses in tertiary education institutions. Examples of possible application topics include:

  • effective integration of sustainability principles and/or practices within and across disciplines and 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.

Applicants must demonstrate continued achievement through a holistic approach, connecting to EfS principles relevant to the course. Further guidance on the suggested principles for EfS can be found on the Learning & Teaching Sustainability website
Applications that are more focused on  informal or extra curricula learning, or have significant skills based activities  may be better suited to the Skills for Sustainability category.

Skills for Sustainability

This category recognises achievement in the development of skills relevant to sustainability. To provide a clear differentiation from other categories, the main focus is on activities that are not central to the pursuit of academic qualifications (which should normally be entered into the Learning & Teaching category). Examples include:

  • training for apprenticeships;
  • continuing professional development (CPD) activities;
  • skill-focused courses leading to professional or vocational qualifications;
  • short courses for practitioners and;
  • demonstrating/implementing sustainability practices in the workplace.

However, 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.
Note: Applications that are more focused on formal, curriculum based learning may be better suited to the Learning & Teaching category.

Social Responsibility

This category recognises initiatives by tertiary education institutions which create significant benefits for local communities, disadvantaged groups 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 looking for ‘social responsibility’ type initiatives which have an element of proactive community and social concern, rather than ‘business as usual’ activities which create immediate financial benefit for the institution such as putting on new courses for particular groups. 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 Social Responsibility

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 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 Awards of Excellence

The ACTS Awards of Excellence recognises the sustainability achievements of our institutional members and individuals, who have been working hard to achieve change towards sustainability at any level. There are three entries for this category:

  1. Institutional Award
  2. Individual Staff Award – NEW
  3. Individual Student Award – NEW

Institutional Award

ACTS members are asked to nominate themselves or another member institution that deserves recognition for continued and on-going effort to improve sustainability performance. This Award is about recognising continued efforts, large or small, that have resulted in an improvement to the sustainability achievements of an institution and/or beyond, regardless of sector excellence. Examples of possible application topics include the continued effort/ leadership of a group of staff and/or students; an institution’s outreach to the local community or other institutions; the sharing of knowledge and/or resources, raising awareness and behaviour change and the greening of departments/campuses. Nominations that can demonstrate a broad and diverse range of sustainability achievements, and MUST be over and above business as usual activities will be more highly favoured by the judges. Winners for this category will be decided by ACTS members who will be asked to vote from a shortlisted group. Winners will be announced at the Green Gown Awards Australasia Ceremony.

Individual Staff Award

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 that can demonstrate a range of sustainability achievements, over and above normal job requirements will be more highly favoured. Applications should provide evidence of scale and impact, and of good leadership/championing practice in engaging and inspiring others.
Individuals cannot apply themselves but should be nominated by a manager or peer within or outside the sector. Winners for this category will be decided by ACTS members who will be asked to vote from a shortlisted group. Winners will be announced at the Green Gown Awards Australasia Ceremony.

Individual Student Award

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.

_Individuals cannot apply themselves but should be nominated by a peer or superior within or outside the sector. Winners for this category will be decided by ACTS members who will be asked to vote from a shortlisted group. Winners will be announced at the Green Gown Awards Australasia Ceremony.

Disclaimer: Any student or person working for an ACTS member institution is eligible to nominate or be nominated for the ACTS Award of Excellence Individual Awards. This includes voluntary members of the ACTS board and regional directors. 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 regional directors will sit on the judging panel to shortlist the applications. The winner will be decided on by a public vote, by ACTS members, of which members of an institution are unable to vote for another member of the same institution. 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 June 2014.

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