Swinburne is taking a position of leadership by undertaking to be carbon neutral by 2025. The commitment— championed by our newly appointed Vice-Chancellor Professor Pascale Quester — has stemmed a number of initiatives to materially reduce emissions across our campuses. Initiatives to leverage sustainability-focused research, partnerships and curriculums are also underway.  


The Net Zero 205 Pathway is another commitment we’ve made to help reach our sustainable development goals. In January 2020, Swinburne became the first university in Victoria to sign the Global Climate Emergency Letter in recognition of the need for a drastic societal shift to combat the growing threat of climate change. Swinburne was also one of the first universities in Australia to implement a Responsible Investment Charter.

  • “As a university, we are on the frontier in terms of our leadership and our commitment. We must act with greater urgency.”

    Professor Pascale Quester , Vice-Chancellor and President

How we are reducing emissions

To ensure we meet our target, a cross-functional team was established to investigate, develop and prioritise initiatives to decarbonise our operations. These initiatives are focusing on improving the efficiency of our buildings, reducing waste, sustainable procurement, green travel and sustainable campus development.  

Our design standards include general environmental requirements such as achieving a 5 Star Green rating and commissioning experienced ESD (Environmental Sustainable Design) consultants to guide design and construction processes.

Further work will be undertaken on these design standards over the coming year to uplift and enrich the minimum standards to drive improved sustainability outcomes.

In January 2021 we will also start work on our campus design and space management plan to guide future development in a more sustainable way. Any major refurbishment projects will then follow the sustainability principals set out in it.

Electricity & Gas

In May 2020, Swinburne signed a contract with clean energy supplier Infigen Energy to procure 100 per cent renewable electricity. This new arrangement has already significantly reduced our net emissions as a result of electricity usage. 

Detailed planning work is currently underway to set out the building audit and remediation roadmap. Investigations have commenced to identify changes that can be made to our lighting and HVAC systems to reduce usage across off-peak times.  This is on top of our continuing investment in LED lighting across our campuses.

Waste management

In 2020 we ran a print reduction campaign that introduced a print quota limit for staff. 

New waste bins have also been installed across office areas with more recycling options, and a new organics waste stream will be implemented in early 2021. 

In development is a comprehensive Waste Management Plan (WAMP) that sets out a number of initiatives to further improve waste management practices across the Swinburne community. 

Other

To encourage students and staff to minimise the carbon footprint we create while travelling to campus, we have installed bike storage facilities and an electric vehicle charging station at Hawthorn.  

Travel  

In October 2020, we updated our travel procedure for staff and HDR students. We now encourage travellers to attend events virtually when they can and choose greener transport and accommodation options as much as possible.  

In planning is a system that measures the carbon footprints of proposed trips to encourage more sustainable travel decisions, and reporting that tracks and measures Swinburne’s progress with reducing emissions from travel.  

We’re also looking to implement mandatory carbon offsetting for travelling and to formalise partnerships with ‘greener’ airlines and accommodation providers.

Procurement 

We’re now putting more emphasis on sustainability when choosing suppliers. Key suppliers are requested to provide information on their environmental impacts, offsetting programs, recycling opportunities and other sustainability matters. 

A refreshed procurement framework will be launched in 2021 that will outline the key principles of sustainable procurement and provide guidance to the university on how to make a buying decision that avoids a carbon footprint or improves environmental outcomes. 

Pathway research

Through sustainability research, we’re looking for new ways to enable industry and the community to reduce carbon footprints. This is being conducted through some of our key research hubs like Smart Cities Research Institute and Social and Environmental Sustainability in Organisations Research Group. Here are some of our recent research projects helping us, and others, reduce emissions.

The National Environmental Science Program (NESP) is a long-term commitment by the Australian Government. The program funds environment and climate research. We have been successful with a collaborative bid led by University of New South Wales (UNSW) and awarded $17m over seven years for the “Sustainable Communities and Waste Hub”.

The Hub will provide research to reduce the impact of plastic, support sustainable people-environment interactions, and offer management options for hazardous substances and pollutants to minimise environmental and human-health impacts. The collaborative bid, under the leadership of Laureate Fellow Professor Veena Sahajwalla, involves core ‘node’ partners in UNSW, CSIRO, Monash, Curtin, Swinburne and the University of Tasmania. Professor Marcus White will be leading the Swinburne Node.

Did you know?

Swinburne is home to a number of world-class research facilities helping us reach our sustainable development goals. These include the Energy Transformation Laboratory, Geotechnical Laboratory, and the Digital Construction Laboratory.

Want to study sustainability?

At Swinburne, we have a number of course options across arts, science, engineering, design and health that focus on sustainability. We also have a start-up studio for environmentally conscious entrepreneurs.

What can I do to help?

There are many things you can do as a student to help us reach our Net Zero 2025 target and meet our sustainability goals.  

Firstly, you can choose a more environmentally friendly mode of transport to get to and from campus. Walking or cycling is best, but public transport and ridesharing is also recommended where safe to do so.   

On campus there is virtually an endless number of things you can do to help. This includes:

  • disposing of rubbish in the correct bins  

  • using the half flush button in you know where. 

  • using reusable containers and cups for food and drink  

  • avoiding printing where possible 

  • using the stairs rather than a lift 

  • re-filling personal water bottles from the tap rather than purchasing bottled water. 

Also, be a leader! Encourage your friends and classmates to improve their sustainable practices and lead by example.  

If you have any ideas to further help in our commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions, we’d love to hear from you. Email your idea to the Swinburne Sustainability team sustainability@swinburne.edu.au.  

There are many things you can do as a Swinburne employee to help us reach our Net Zero 2025 target and meet our sustainability goals.

Firstly, you can choose a more environmentally friendly mode of transport to get to and from work. Walking or cycling is best, but public transport and ridesharing is also recommended where safe to do so.  

When you’re at work, we recommend the following:

  • turning off lights when leaving a room 

  • turning your computer off overnight

  • turning off taps when not using water

  • avoiding printing where possible

  • not using personal heaters or fans in your office 

  • disposing of your rubbish correctly in the appropriate bins

  • using reusable containers and cups for food and drink

  • using stairs rather than lifts 

  • buying stationery made from recycled materials.

And if your department requires new furniture first check if used, recycled furniture is available in the Facilities and Services storage units. Yes, reuse where possible!

Also, choose virtual meetings over travelling, and if you have to travel, choose greener accommodation or airline providers. 

If you have any ideas to further help in our commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions, we’d love to hear from you. Email your idea to the Swinburne Sustainability team at sustainability@swinburne.edu.au.

Get in contact

If you’d like to know more about our Net Zero Pathway and target commitment, or have any ideas to help us reach net zero carbon emissions, please contact us at sustainability@swinburne.edu.au.

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