Our goal is to provide an environmentally sustainable built environment that supports teaching, learning and research. And, of course, it is vital to encourage our students to develop sustainable habits and practices that will stay with them well after they complete their studies. We aim to set an example by prioritising energy and water consumption and waste management, recycling and transport. We are working towards achieving a recycling rate of 80 percent across the University.
Our rooftop solar project is set to generate more than 950,000 kWh of clean energy and save 795 tonnes of CO2 equivalent each year. Solar cells (also known as photovoltaic or PV cells) capable of generating 760kW are now in place across 18 rooftops at the Camperdown, Darlington and Mallet Street campuses. In addition to reducing carbon emissions, they provide an effective use of financial capital, as the solar energy offsets the premium cost of daytime grid electricity consumption.
Dedicated electricity meters measure the amount of solar energy generated and send the data to our Advanced Utility Monitoring System (AUMS). Whenever practical, we are integrating solar panels on all our new buildings. Our Abercrombie Business School, for example, was designed to make the most of natural light and external views, and with advanced lighting controls to limit electricity used when unnecessary. There are daylight and motion sensors, and auto dimming. External shading helps keep the building cool and our amazing solar PV system generates 100,000 kWh of solar energy per year. We included both internal and external bicycle parking spaces in the design, and we ensured access to showers for our active staff and students.
The Abercrombie Business School also includes 160,000 kL rainwater capture — another initiative we are including as much as possible, with rainwater harvesting incorporated in all our new buildings, and carefully implemented water efficiency standards.
We encourage our students and staff to walk, cycle or take public transport whenever possible and to consider their surroundings as much as possible. The Ground Up Community Garden encourages them to work together to learn and practise urban horticulture. There are 12 in-ground plots, six raised beds and numerous planter bags where food is cultivated. The group runs working bees on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings to encourage community involvement.
This is really only the tip of the iceberg in an institution where a great many researchers are working to ensure a sustainable future for the planet, working on everything from food security to power storage to sustainable fishing and saving the Great Barrier Reef.
A series of free panel discussions is currently being run by Sydney Ideas in association with the Sydney Environment Institute, and these include one on 26 April entitled Food@Sydney: Cultivating our Campus. To find out more, see whatson.sydney.edu.au/events