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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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Sharing Success: 2012 Winners

ACTS_Website_Slideshow_2012GGAA Sharing Success

The Green Gown Awards Australasia, now in their 4th year in 2013, is firmly becoming the most prestigious recognition of sustainability best practice within the tertiary education sector, following in its UK founders footsteps.
In addition to the recognition of excellence for those successful institutions, the other main aim of the Awards is to share the best practice stories with the sector. With the creation of an international resources sharing facility with our sister organisations disseminating best practice has never been more important or easier. The integrity of the Awards is maintained by the high quality of applications, the rigorous assessment of applications by independent judges and the support of our sponsors and the wider sector. In order to maintain and enhance that quality we want to share with you the journey of our winning and highly commended institutions.  In this way Australasian and international institutions can capitalise on that success and learn the dos and don’ts from others.
It is also a key responsibility of ACTS that we encourage the Green Gown Awards Australasia to go from strength to strength, by disseminating best practice and helping colleagues to achieve more from the Green Gown Awards in future, as well as increase the benefits of ACTS membership.
In 2012 the Awards drew winners in 7 categories, with over 40 institutions involved – more than 20% of the Australasian tertiary education sector. In order for us to learn from the successes of these winners, we have a series of best practice videos we’d like to share with you. Please view links below.

Carbon Reduction *Sponsored by Dyson Airblade*

Winner: James Cook University
“An Integrated Approach to Energy Management”
James Cook University has embarked on an ambitious energy management and efficiency program that has realised major cost and energy savings, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and significantly reduced peak demand at its Townsville Campus.
The integrated approach includes the Central District Cooling system, the largest thermal energy storage tank in the Southern Hemisphere, a centrally controlled Building and Energy Management System, power factor correction and various other projects.
Over the past five years these projects, costing JCU over $25 million, have been implemented across the campus. The results include a peak demand reduction of 4.5MW (40%), a 25% reduction in total energy use, $2 million in savings annually and a reduction in CO2 emissions of 10,600 tonnes per annum.
The innovation lends itself well to replication in a wide variety of situations. It can be scaled up and down and used wherever air-conditioning contributes a significant cost to an organisation.

Highly Commended: Sunshine Coast Institute of TAFE
“First carbon neutral educational organisation”
Sunshine Coast Institute of TAFE (SCIT) has a vision to be a leader in education for sustainability and sustainable operations. To achieve this vision the Institute has initiated a multi-disciplined, multi-facetted approach which recognises our unique role in the community.
As one of the largest employers and training organisations on the Sunshine Coast, SCIT is highly cognisant of the need to maintain the natural beauty of this region. We are fortunate enough to live in a region where the local council has made every endeavour to plan appropriately to ensure sustainability within our business, leisure and natural environments. SCIT maintains close links with the Sunshine Coast Council to ensure our strategic compatibility in relation to all current and future growth planning for this region.
Our signature achievement is to be the first and only educational institution in Australia to become carbon neutral, having received National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) certification.

Highly Commended: The University of Queensland
“UQ Carbon Strategy”
The University of Queensland (UQ) is focused on embedding sustainability on all its campuses and sites and across all areas of learning, discovery and engagement. UQ is a signatory to the Talloires Declaration and the Universitas 21 Sustainability Statement.
The UQ Carbon Strategy overarches leading-edge energy efficiency programs, large scale renewable energy projects and other sustainability initiatives. The strategy’s flagship project is the 1.22 megawatt UQ Solar array – currently Australia’s largest flat-panel roof top PV system.
The system generated over 1.7 million kilowatts of renewable energy in its first year of operation saving 1,700 equivalent metric tonnes of CO2 per annum. It has provided a 5% reduction in the campus peak power demand and is expected to save $6.6 million in avoided electricity costs to 2025. The array underpins a number of cutting-edge research projects, in diverse fields including physics, engineering, economics and sustainability. One key research aim will address engineering issues on how these systems can feed into and integrate with the electricity grid.
The system is the blueprint for vital solar energy infrastructure in urban and remote areas to ensure a cleaner and greener future for Australia.

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Continuous Improvement – Institutional Change *Sponsored by KeepCup*

Winner: Edith Cowan University
“Sustainable Communities”
Edith Cowan University (ECU) is committed to developing a heightened awareness within its students, staff, and the wider community a sense of place and value for the environment. ECU has taken significant steps to create a sustainable university community and a culture of ‘healthy you, healthy environment’.
Key achievements by the University in the past 5 years have been:

  • The development of a University-wide Sustainability Action Plan with actions and targets addressing all areas of social and environmental sustainability and oversight by a university-wide committee;
  • reductions in potable water usage and carbon;
  • increase in staff participation rates in the associated University programs;
  • 2009 Premier’s Award for “Managing the Environment”;
  • 2010/11 WA Government Waterwise Award.

ECU continues to work on a number of big steps towards a smaller footprint.

Highly Commended: University of Tasmania
“UTAS Continuous Improvement exemplified by the Academic-Operations Sustainability Integration Program (AOSIP)”
The University of Tasmania (UTAS) sustainability vision is to integrate a comprehensive sustainability plan, which is engaging and connects operational and academic interests, into core business activities. In early 2010, projects were undertaken to demonstrate the value of synchronising academic and operational sustainability goals. These successful efforts then grew into the Academic-Operations Sustainability Integration Program (AOSIP), which formalises a key UTAS objective ‘to integrate the mutual objectives of UTAS’ environmental management and academic programs using sustainable infrastructure and service needs as an opportunity for cross disciplinary teaching, learning and research as well as supporting and accessing the sustainability knowledge base of students and academics.’ Through a grounded approach of linking theory to real-world sustainability issues on campus and to skills in demand by employers, AOSIP motivates students to be active in their own learnings.

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Skills for Sustainability

Winner: TAFE NSW Northern Sydney Institute
“Embedding Education for Sustainability principles and practice into vocational education and training at TAFENSW Northern Sydney Institute “
TAFE NSW Northern Sydney Institute (NSI) made a commitment in 2011 to embed education for sustainability (EfS) into all education and training programs by 2013. NSI had already ensured a program of engagement of all its apprentices in environmental work practices.
This commitment requires a whole of Institute approach to EfS including a focus through the Institute’s governance model and accountability at the Executive level for embedding EfS into all training programs; building staff capability in the principles and practice of EfS relevant to their vocational areas; facilitating Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programs such as new green skills in Grid Connected PV Systems and Solar Hot Water Installation; engaging teachers in EfS innovations and initiatives through partnerships with community groups, government agencies and enterprises and establishing interdisciplinary programs for training in the Cert IV Business Sustainability Assessment, Staement of Attainment (SoA) Carbon Accounting, Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Building for building trades and architectural services.
All NSI colleges have an Environmental Management System (EMS) certified to ISO14001 which provides the educational foundation of practising environmental sustainability. NSI is unique in the Australian tertiary sector to hold this certification.
In July 2012, NSI achieved a Gold Partnership with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) in recognition of NSI’s leadership in EfS and the integration of sustainability into all aspects of our business and is the only NSW Government organisation and Registered Training Organisation to obtain this level of achievement.

Highly Commended: Macquarie University
“People, Planet and Participation”
The biggest impact universities can have on the future of our planet is through approaches that equip graduates with the skills they need to actively contribute to economic, social and environmental sustainability in all facets of life. This can be achieved through active participatory learning, creation of shared experiences and the development of a collective vision of sustainability, which ultimately will help reshape the world. Macquarie offers a range of avenues to up-skill its community to motivate, equip and involve people in reflecting on how they currently live and work. Macquarie’s skills-for-sustainability initiatives aim to go beyond individual behaviour change or single actions, instead seeking to implement systemic change within the University, its community, and society at large.
Macquarie addresses both formal and informal skill development. The Learning and Teaching Plan has sustainability amongst its core values, and is considered a principle and enabler that will guide the implementation of Macquarie’s values. The programs and practices of the University reflect a commitment to sustainability in the University’s social, physical and cultural environments. This commitment is demonstrated through our: Graduate Capabilities Framework; People, Planet and Participation Units; various sustainability training and engagement initiatives; and specific sustainability courses.

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Social Responsibility

Winner: Charles Darwin University
“Lakeside Drive Community Garden”
The Lakeside Drive Community Garden (LDCG) at Charles Darwin University (CDU) is an award‐winning outreach program of CDU’s Office of Community Engagement that provides the community with tropical food production and sustainable living education in Northern Australia. LDCG is driven by a dedicated group of community members, CDU students and staff who generously donate time, equipment, guidance and resources. Based on Permaculture principles, LDCG provides community education on food security and sustainable lifestyles with the aim of inspiring local residents to engage in promoting the growth of native species, both in their backyards and the wider community.

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Student Initiatives & Campaigns

Winner: University of Technology, Sydney – Students’ Association
“Bluebird Brekkie: free sustainable pop-up café by students, for students”
Everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially when it comes to concentration and academic performance. The Students’ Association at the University of Technology, Sydney recognises that students are skipping breakfast before early lectures, or sometimes can’t afford sustaining and nutritious foods, so we created Bluebird Brekkie Bar. Made by students for students, Bluebird is a large-scale pop-up cafe providing free, sustainable, delicious and nutritious breakfast once a week – organic muesli, permeate-free milk and natural yoghurt, freshly-baked local sourdough with avocado and spreads, fruit juice, fresh organic fruit and fair-trade tea and coffee – all in an inclusive community setting with chilled-out indie music. Our aim is to improve student welfare whilst laying the foundation for positive long-term habits around nutrition and sustainable lifestyle choices. And we are doing just that, feeding around 1,000 students every breakfast and receiving encouraging feedback that our sustainability message is getting through. Bluebird has fast become one of (if not the) most popular attractions at UTS, and is the object of envy from other universities. We are proud to have the support of our Chancellor and Vice Chancellors, and to provide a professional standard service from a grass-roots level.

Highly Commended: Sydney Institute of TAFE NSW
“Green Week Precinct”
Green Week Precinct is a full week of activities, documentary films, Q&As, informative talks, debates, fashion parades, competition and photography exhibition that raised awareness of environmental issues and offered the opportunity to all students and staff of the Ultimo Precinct to contribute, be involved and share knowledge in a fun and engaging way. An innovative partnership between the neighbouring Ultimo TAFE, UTS University & ABC Ultimo ran from June, 4 to 8 and coincided with World Environment Day on Tuesday 5 June and World Oceans Day on Friday 8 June. Through this collaboration Green Week Precinct gave students and staff of all three organisations the opportunity to actively collaborate, educate and raise awareness of sustainability issues as well as discover and explore each other spaces, remove the unseen boundaries, creating a true precinct community spirit.

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TAFE & Smaller Institutions

Winner: TAFE NSW – Western Sydney Institute
“Totally switched on to Sustainability”
For TAFE NSW – Western Sydney Institute, sustainability is more than just a single program or initiative; it embraces social inclusion and environmental outcomes for the community including tailored programs where refugees learn English language skills in the context of working in hands-on food production where they can utilise their traditional agricultural, using contemporary sustainability methods. Similarly, our involvement in global programs such as International WaterKeepers Alliance, United Nations Regional Centre for Expertise is bringing sustainability life and leading the region in environmental sustainability training for a sustainable future.
Commitment to reducing our own carbon footprint is evidenced by significant reduction in energy and water consumption, purchase of accredited green energy and solar cells generating energy.
Our industry partnerships have resulted in new and emerging technologies and world class facilities enabling delivery of greenskills training to individuals, communities and industry learners.

Highly Commended: Australian Institute of Management South Australia (AIM SA)
“Sustainable Development: Better managers and leaders for a better society”
The Australian Institute of Management South Australia (AIM SA) is a proud organisation with a passion for delivering training of the highest quality to managers and leaders (and future managers and leaders) in South Australia. We’ve been around since 1944, and as being the largest private provider of management and leadership education in SA, we are also one of the largest professional bodies for managers. Our rich history, our diverse membership base and our breadth of experience helps us to deliver each day on our core purpose of developing ‘better managers and leaders for a better society’.
As is the business leaders of today and tomorrow who are responsible to transition society towards a more equitable and sustainable future, we believe it is our responsibility to ensure that the principles, values and practices of sustainable development are integrated into our education and training and throughout our core business activities.

Highly Commended: Great Southern Institute of Technology
“Seeds of Sustainability”
With nearly 6000 people practising recycling, reusing and reducing resources, Great Southern Institute of Technology’s Seeds of Sustainability project is flourishing.
Significant savings from reduced electricity, paper and water use have been directed into further exciting developments to compound sustainability and numerous initiatives have been established.
The passion and commitment are almost tangible. People urge each other to do the right thing, and news is shared through the monthly gazette. Our project stands out for the high number of initiatives brought to fruition, the green mindset adopted by our people, and the unashamed exploitation of our position to spread the message far and wide through the inclusion of sustainability elements in all our courses.
Strong leadership from the Managing Director, who issued a ‘green’ challenge to staff two years ago, and a Seeds of Sustainability committee are driving this vibrant project.

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ACTS Award of Excellence

Winner: University of Tasmania
The University of Tasmania has shown increasing commitment over the past few years by defining the sustainability agenda and increasing resourcing and embedding this agenda holistically into institutional strategies and plans. This institutional support has been translated into direct involvement by staff sustainability representatives as well as the development of the Academic-Operations Sustainability Integration Program that ‘brings it all together’ in delivering operational outcomes through involving staff and student directly.

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