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Environmental Sustainability

UniSA's Sustainability Commitment

UniSA's commitment to sustainability is endorsed in the Vision, Mission and Values:

"UniSA contributes to environmentally, economically, socially and culturally sustainable development, and we aim to reduce our own environmental impact."

When addressing environmental issues UniSA aims to lead and act as an example to the community and with the right tools, collaboration and commitment, the University will meet its environmental goals.

A number of projects and initiatives undertaken by the Facilities Management Unit have already demonstrated a commitment to environmental sustainability


Joint Commitment with ATN Universities to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2020

The Australian Technology Network (ATN) is an influential alliance of five distinctive and prominent Australian Universities. The ATN's aim is to help secure Australia's reputation as the clever country, contributing to its social and economic wealth by building strategic partnerships and undertaking solution based research which is relevant to the expectations of industry and the community.

In February 2009 the Australian Technology Network (ATN) Universities announced a commitment to collectively reduce Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 10% of 2007 levels by 2012-13 and 25% by 2020-21. This target is equivalent to an ATN benchmark greenhouse gas intensity of 105 kg CO2-e/m2 per annum.

Due to UniSA's relatively low carbon emissions in comparison to its ATN partners, its target is to reduce Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 6% of 2007 levels by 2012-13 and 15% by 2020-21. This equates to a required greenhouse gas intensity of 85 kg CO2-e/m2 per annum by 2020 (cf 107 kg CO2-e/m2 per annum in 2007) based on an assumed growth of 1% of gross floor area per annum.

The graph below indicates our achievements to date:

C02 reduction achievement


Green Star Rating

All new UniSA buildings will achieve a minimum of five stars under the Green Star green building rating tools as awarded by the Green Building Council of Australia. The Green Star green building rating system is an industry recognised technical design guide to promote environmentally sustainable development. Green Star technical manuals have been developed by the Green Building Council of Australia to provide guidance for the design of various building types.

The Green Star environmental impact categories are as follows:


UniSA's Energy Emissions Inventory

During 2009 UniSA commissioned an assessment of its 2008-09 carbon emissions in accordance with the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) Act 2007 which stipulates financial year reporting. UniSA's Scope 1 and 2 emissions for 2008-09 total 24,970.3 tonnes CO2-e, a nominal reduction of 0.3% against the 2007 baseline. During the same period, UniSA's gross floor area grew by 1%.

UniSA Scope 1 and 2 Emissions



The most recent Benchmark Report (2008) from the Tertiary Education Facilities Management Association shows UniSA as being one of the most environmentally sustainable universities in Australia, being ranked 3rd and 12th in the sector for efficiency in terms of energy and water consumption respectively.

A comparison of UniSA's energy and water consumption against other Australian Universities is shown in the following graphs. Please note that energy consumption is a good surrogate for carbon emissions as the majority of Universities' scope 1 & 2 emissions originate from electricity consumption (93% for UniSA).

Energy Consumption of Australian Universities

Water Consumption of Australian Universities


Facilities Management Unit Environmental Management Plan

The UniSA Facilities Management Unit has developed an Environmental Management Plan. For the period of 2010 - 2020. The Plan addresses a range of strategies on the environmental themes of Energy Management, Water Management, Waste Management, Sustainable Transport and Ecological System.

UniSA  Environment Management Plan


Energy and Climate Change

The cause of 90% of UniSA's direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions is the consumption of electricity to operate university facilities. Reducing the consumption of energy (electricity and gas) is the most cost-effective way to reduce UniSA's greenhouse gas emissions.

Options available to UniSA to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of its facilities in order of preference are:

Energy conservation - avoiding unnecessary emissions, examples include switching off lights and computers when not in use;

Energy efficiency - modifications to building systems and equipment to run more efficiently, examples include changing light fittings and upgrading old equipment with new;

Fuel substitution - switching to fuels with lower greenhouse gas emission intensity, examples include substitution of natural gas for grid electricity, purchase of Green Power, on-site or offsite generation of renewable energy and use of renewable transport fuels; and

Offsetting emissions - accredited emission offsets can be a legitimate means to lower residual emissions that are unavoidable.


A Sustainable Water Supply

UniSA's water conservation programs implemented since 2002 have reduced UniSA's annual consumption of potable water by 38%. This equates to a real saving of 91,506 KL of potable water each year that reduces UniSA's reliance on the ailing River Murray.

This saving of potable water is set to increase with Mawson Lakes Campus gaining the use of recycled, class A treated water for non potable uses within buildings and irrigating open space from SA Water. Rain water is also captured at Mawson Lakes and stored in wetlands and underground rainwater tanks for use on campus open-spaces.


Waste Management and Recycling

Recycling at UniSA includes office paper, cardboard, fluorescent lighting tubes and bottles and cans covered by Container Deposit Legislation. Currently approximately 35% of waste is recycled or used as a source of alternative fuel in the resources industry.

However, a recent waste audit undertaken by KESAB Environmental Solutions identified that up to 70% of waste in general waste bins could be recycled with a comprehensive recycling system across all campuses and facilities. UniSA is proud to report that 40% of waste is currently diverted from landfill but aims to increase this in the future with a recycling system at all campuses and facilities.

The Zero Waste SA Research Centre for Sustainable Design and Behaviour is a relatively new research centre at UniSA. For more information see
Zero Waste SA Research Centre for Sustainable Design and Behaviour


Ecological systems

The use of local native vegetation in urban areas not only reduces demand for irrigated landscaping, but also increases habitats for native wildlife and can improve the quality of runoff water prior to storage and re-use. Additional benefits to green spaces on campus include ambient cooling and shade during high summer temperatures.



UniSA is exploring options to find the most environmentally friendly and cost effective transport solutions for staff and students when procuring new vehicles for the Fleet.

UniSA subscribes all vehicles to the 'Greenfleet Vehicle' program; offsetting a total of 129 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year. Through this program native trees are planted to offset the vehicle fleets carbon emissions on an annual basis. UniSA also ensures the cars are not producing unnecessary carbon through the regular servicing of University vehicles to ensure optimum performance.

Hughes Chauffeured Limousines provide intercampus transportation for the UniSA staff. Conditions of Hughes contract with the UniSA include monthly reporting of carbon emissions that result from UniSA's travel with Hughes.   UniSA staff are encouraged to 'car pool' when using Hughes Chauffeured Limousines in order to reduce carbon output.

UniSA's free Campus Connector between Magill campus and Mawson Lakes campus makes life easier for staff and students who make use of this service.

UniSA provides secure bicycle parking for staff and students who cycle to work, and is increasing the bicycle storage areas available on all campuses. Staff and students are encouraged to cycle to campus and make use of free secure bicycle storage facilities at City East, City West, Magill and Mawson Lakes campus. Access to secure bicycle storage facilities is granted by presenting your student card to the campus Security Office.

The benefits of public transport extend further than cheap tickets and spare time to read and listen to music while someone else does the driving, there are health benefits involved in walking from door to bus stop and bus stop to destination at either end not to mention the lower carbon footprint of public transport users.

High frequency bus services to Mawson Lakes include the 222, 224, 225 every 15 minutes and the Gawler train runs every 15 minutes.

Bus services to Magill campus include the 107x express on week day mornings and 106 every 15 minutes in the Go Zone.

For more information on route timetables and bus stop locations see the Adelaide Metro website. Enjoy the ride and know that you're doing your planet a favour.


UniSA Environmental Sustainability Links

Barbara Hardy Instiitute

SA Water Centre for Water Management and Reuse

The Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation

Ehrenberg-Bass Institute  

School of Natural and Built Environments

Green Information Technology Links