A message from Chief Operating Officer Dr Stephen Weller:
In July, ACU became the first Australian organisation and the first University in the world to issue a sustainability bond, attracting $200 million from investors. The move reflects ACU’s strong commitment to the environment and to the common good, as funds from the bond sales must be spent on projects that deliver positive social and environmental outcomes over the next ten years. To further our social impact, ACU will fund teaching and research activities in areas including education and healthcare, which will benefit Australians and people around the world.
The University will also move to reduce its environmental impacts through funding projects such as green buildings. Green buildings also improve the staff and student experience by creating a better working and learning environment. For example, an American study found that green buildings in schools delivered a 15% rise in learning and a 25% rise in test scores because of good lighting and ventilation. Green buildings are also required to use furnishing and fittings that contains less toxins and this creates a healthier environment for everyone. Along with supporting wellbeing, research also suggests that green buildings improve productivity and may even make us work smarter.
Reducing our environmental footprint
ACU’s environmental impacts arise from our consumption of energy and water, our waste generation and the transport we use, including flights. The University is building sustainable campuses through energy efficient buildings, large capacity water tanks, and more video and teleconferencing facilities to offer a real alternative to some domestic travel.
Our recent improvements mean that ACU has one of the lightest environmental footprints of any Australian university. Recent data from the Tertiary Education Facilities Management Association shows that ACU is one of the most efficient consumers of water and energy, a low emitter of greenhouse gas and in the mid-range for waste generation. In 2012, ACU’s Daniel Mannix Building in Melbourne was recognised as world-class in sustainable design and received the highest sustainability rating of six Green Stars. Our sustainability initiatives and achievements are the result of a team effort which includes collaboration between business units such as Properties and Facilities and Finance, as well as the efforts of a large number of our staff and students who carry out environmentally-friendly practices during their day.
Our green targets for the future
By 2020, ACU aims to achieve a 7% increase in energy efficiency and water conservation. We’re also aiming for a target of 70% minimum rate of re-use and recycling of our total waste by 2019. Achieving these targets would place ACU in the top five Australian universities for waste management.
These are ambitious targets for a growing University, but they will ensure that we remain a green leader. Some challenges lie ahead in our growing student numbers, changes to energy pricing and reduced water availability, which is why a team effort is essential to achieving these targets.
How you can help us to get there
I encourage you to read these tips for how you can take action. Caring for the environment is not only a business imperative, it is aligned with living the ACU Mission in considering the impact and contribution we make to our community and to our planet. The small actions we each take can add up to make a big difference.