Climate change is one of the most important issues facing young Australians today. It is important that the New Student Precinct is adaptive to the changing environment and strives to lessen the impact on the planet. The Project is committed to sustainability in design, construction and student-led activations related to the Precinct. With this in mind, we aim to build a better future for the broader University of Melbourne community.
Key Sustainability Strategies
The University has developed three key pieces of work to govern our commitment to sustainability and achieve tangible outcomes. These strategies are:
- The Sustainability Charter – setting high level principles, values and commitments
- The Sustainability Plan 2017-2020 – outlining the action and targets we strive to reach as a University to achieve tangible outcomes on climate change
- The Sustainability Report 2017 – an annual, evidence based report that measures how we are tracking on our commitments outlined in the Sustainability Report.
In line with the whole of University model, the Precinct is currently looking at a variety of ways they can align and support the University's sustainability goals. To aid this work, a series of workshops, facilitated by student sustainability reps, and the Project's sustainability architects and consultants, have been held to capture sustainability aspirations for the Precinct.
Sustainability Plan 2017 - 2020
The University has committed itself to achieving significant sustainability goals by the year 2020. The Sustainability Plan 2017 – 2020 recognises the need for strong action on climate change and has set ambitious targets to create a lasting, thriving, sustainable campus
These represent a key list of sustainability goals that will be implemented across the campus, which will be embodied in the New Student Precinct.
As part of the co-creation process, a survey to determine a set of Sustainable Design Principles was undertaken to gauge the community’s perspective on how they envisaged 'their Precinct'. Those who undertook the survey were asked to rate the importance of each issue presented to them on a scale of 0 (being not important at all) to 10 (extremely important). Of the participants interviewed*:
- 93% stressed the need for highly efficient energy and resource use
- 89% agreed that enabling and supporting minimal waste was a priority
- 87% wanted to create an environment for health, fair and sustainable food.
*statistics represent participants ranking the issue as a 7 or higher
New Student Precinct Sustainable Principles
The new heart of our campus should be a sustainable, regenerative, energising space that supports budding minds and a blossoming planet. Through student consultation, eight principles were determined to help inform the design of the Precinct:
- Provide spaces and places that encourage the diverse student community to connect and learn about sustainable practices
- Develop a minimal waste precinct, through the promotion of recycling and organic (food) waste and packaging
- Foster opportunities for students to create and drive innovative sustainability initiatives
- Ensure highly efficient energy and resource use
- Create opportunities to buy or prepare food that is healthy, fair and sustainable
- Promote biodiversity and Indigenous planting
- Maximise the lifecycle of structures through use of enduring and sustainable materials
- Reduce environmental footprint by sourcing local resources.
Guiding Precinct Aspirations
The Project Team have partnered with Aurecon to deliver an Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) strategy for the Precinct. The following aspirations have guided Aurecon’s thinking as to what a sustainable Precinct can look like, and more broadly, what sustainable place-making can be. These aspirations are guiding our thinking in terms on how we can have a high impact design with a low impact on the environment:
- Low Impact Materials: utilising materials and resource cycles to make a positive social and ecological contribution
- Healthy and Sustainable Food: where possible, ensuring food within the Precinct is seasonal, organic and doesn't involve single use plastics
- Natural Habitats for Wildlife and People: creating a home for existing biodiversity (plants, animals, etc) and seeking opportunities to increase ecological and social value
- Diversity and Inclusion: creating a place where culture, heritage and diversity is celebrated, where sense of place and identity is engendered to contribute towards future heritage, diversity and inclusiveness
- Zero Carbon: the Precinct will be designed with the aspiration to create zero carbon emissions
- Sustainable Transportation: transportation is low cost, low carbon and encourages physical activity
- Zero Waste: building a no waste Precinct where waste is treated as a resource
- Sustainable Water: a Precinct where water is used efficiently and managed sustainably.
- Health and Happiness: building indoor and exterior spaces that provide environments in which people prosper
- Co-Design: fostering a process of collaboration and co-design to engage the user community in the development of the sustainability strategy.
Key Precinct Sustainability Actions
6 star Green Star Ratings across all new builds
The Green Star rating system is an initiative created by Green Building Council Australia that measures the sustainable design, construction and operations of buildings, fit outs and communities. People who operate out of high-ranking Green Star buildings typically experience enhanced productivity and a healthier built environment.
According to the Green Building Council Australia’s website, Green Star buildings
- Produce 62% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than average Australian buildings
- Use 66% less electricity than average Australian buildings
- Consume 51% less potable water than minimum industry standards
- Recycle 96% of their construction and demolition waste*
All developments within the Precinct will meeting the ambition of the University by maintaining a minimum 6 star Green Star ‘Design and as Built’ rating for all new builds by 2020, and a 5 star rating for existing buildings.
To find out more about the Green Star rating system, visiting the Green Building Council Australia website.
*Copyright Green Building Council Australia (2015), https://new.gbca.org.au/green-star/
Achieve carbon neutrality before 2030
The University consumes large amounts of electricity and gas per year. As we move forward as an institution, we need to assess the way in which we use fossil fuel and consider our carbon footprint. In 2015, The University generated 114,000 tons of carbon through electricity usage, which equated to 90% of our overall scope of carbon emissions.
In order to curb this effect, the University has set a target to achieve zero net emissions from electricity by 2021 and reduce emissions by 20,000 tonnes of carbon per year by 2020 through on-campus energy projects.
Achieve 21% reduction in mains water usage by floor area
Due to climate change, dry and warm conditions are greatly affecting global water supplies. Water usage The Parkville Campus consumed 447,000 kilolitres of mains water in 2015. Over the next four years, the University is pledging to implement a Water Management Plan for each campus. These plans will cover the distribution, harvesting, conservation, measurement and quality of our water on campus.
Through this initiative, we as a University will be able to reduce mains water usage by floor area by 12% from our 2015 figures, and 40% from our original 2006 baseline. *
The New Student Precinct will utilise the existing ‘purple pipe’, an underground system for distribution of captured water on campus. This will reduce our mains water consumption significantly, and create an opportunity for water reuse on campus.
*2015 baseline is 0.53 kilolitres per square metre of external gross floor area (kL/m2 GFA). The 2020 target is equivalent to a 40% reduction in mains water usage from the original 2006 baseline of 0.78 kL/m2 GFA
45% water pollution reduction
The Precinct itself is taking innovative measures to decrease water pollution and raise community awareness surrounding water preservation efforts. Wetlands and raingardens will be created throughout the Precinct to filter storm water prior to it entering the stormwater network
We have set a target of a 45% reduction in total nitrogen discharged into our waterways. This strategy coincides with the University wide Water Management Plan.
Bringing nature back to the Precinct
Through planting and habitat creation, native species will be encouraged to recolonise the Precinct, we are presented not only with a chance to enhance the biodiversity of our campus, but an opportunity to explore the narrative of the campus from before colonisation.
Some species, such as the Common Brown Butterfly, Short Finned Eels, Southern Brown Tree Frog already actively inhabit the campus, whereas others no longer populate the area due to the effects of urbanisation.
The reintroduction of species will be encouraged through planting of specific flora and the implementation of wet lands. This initiative will unveil the hidden curriculum, allowing students to gather hands on, up close experience with nature on campus. This also aims to integrate teaching and learning opportunities and facilitating cross disciplinary collaboration.
Waste and recycling
In line with the University's Sustainability Plan 2017 - 2020, the New Student Precinct is exploring ways to reduce waste through recycling building materials and furniture, food waste generation and heating and cooling.
Students need simple and practical ways of encouragement to be sustainable in things they do everyday. Student response to the Sustainable Design Principles survey