10 things you didn’t know the uni is doing for sustainability

Happy Green Week everyone! As humans, it’s in our nature to care about… nature! But did you know as University of Newcastle students, you are also a student of a University that cares about the environment as well.

Here are ten things you might not have known that the University of Newcastle does to be sustainable, so you can proudly tell your friends and family that you are a part of an institution that promises a greener future. 

1. Recycling

From 2019 onwards, the University is inducting a waste education campaign that includes bin labelling and placement to help you recycle the right way. This means no more confusion about where your coffee cups go! 

UON will also deliver the best practice contractor management, including cleaner training to better control general waste and recycling methods. 

2. Saving water

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Our Callaghan and Ourimbah campuses are one big native bushland, including natural streams that can make students feel like they’re in the middle of the Blue Mountains. And in the wake of the new water restrictions, Newcastle needs to give natural water source as much love as we can.

The University plans to decrease irrigation to protect this natural water source, while also including Water Sustainable Urban Design (WSUD) principles to help manage our beautiful landscapes. 

3. Designing smarter

Did you know NeW Space is actually a 5 Green Star sustainable design? This is because of its high performance double glazing and thermally engineered aluminium frames. It’s design also encourages natural air flow, as well as reuses rainwater for toilet flushing, and has a state of the art bike storage facility to encourage students to leave their cars at home.

In the future, UON will continue to apply Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) in all its design projects, so watch this (environmentally friendly) space!

4. Driving smarter

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You may know about Park and Ride, the uni’s free shuttle bus service from Callaghan to NeW Space, but did you know there are even more ways UON is encouraging the use of public transport and less gas emissions?

The uni supports less cars on the road through the carpooling service RideShare, as well as strategically placed bike racks throughout our campuses. UON is also collaborating with the University’s key suppliers to measure and understand Scope 3 emissions from travel. 

5. Educating

Universities, as a rule of thumb, are pretty great at educating. But now UON students will be able to chase their curiosities about the environment and lead sustainable lives as part of their education here. The University will offer an increased number of environment sustainability degrees, majors and electives as part of the Environmental Sustainability Plan (2019 – 2025) , and degrees in professional areas such as law, engineering and architecture have been enhanced by sustainability education. 

Students will also be able to participate in environmental sustainability work experience opportunities through the International Leadership Experience and Development Plus Program.

6. Getting “lit”

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Not the kind of lit that you might get on a night out, but the kind of lit that saves the planet one solar panel at a time! UON’s Solar Panel Project has produced enough energy to power 500 households, with the addition of the new solar panels in the Central Coast library. 

Also in the Auchmuty library and Student Accommodation at our Callaghan campus, almost 5,000 energy efficient LEDs have been installed. That means you can get your study on all night while being a sustainable student!

The University has also committed to deliver 100% renewable electricity across the Newcastle and Central Coast campuses with a 1.8MW solar project from 1st January 2020, with carbon neutrality by 2025.

7. Planting

Where would we be without trees? Not breathing, that’s for sure. UON has an abundance of beautiful bushland and an abundance of trees, but there’s always room for more to power every student’s future. 

In 2018 alone, 2,485 seedlings were planted across the campus’ bushland zones, which will soon sprout into vegetation that’s good for the eyes, the soul, and the local wildlife.

8. Landscaping

Carrying on with the importance of our nature-rich university landscapes, UON is continuing to implement the annual Bushfire Management Plan from 2016, which keeps us and the wildlife safe from potential fires on those sweltering 30+ degree days.

This is good news for the 25 hectares of bushland zones and wetland areas that have undergone bush regeneration over the last seven years across UON campuses, which means we can keep our flora and fauna healthy even in these harsh Aussie conditions.

9. Donating

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UON currently supports a number of donation programs, which is the prime perfect way for anyone to be sustainable. Instead of dumping our unwanted, unused things off to become land-waste, students can donate them to certain donation drives.

A favourite is the bi-yearly Friends of the University Book Fair, where people can buy pre-loved books that have been donated by the community. The library also collects donations related to the learning, teaching and research needs of the University community, and students moving out of Student Accommodation can donate their unwanted clothes to a local charity, like the Smith Family. 

10. Investing

And finally, bet you didn’t know that the University invests millions into responsible investments for environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. 

The plan from here out is to follow the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to improve UON’s ESG score, reduce the carbon footprint and divest from fossil fuel companies. By 2020, UON plans to improve their ESG score by 20-30%, and reduce the carbon footprint by 20%.

Read more about UON’s plans for a sustainable future