Our environmental commitment

At UniSA we have a strong commitment to sustainability, as articulated in our Vision, Mission and Values:

"UniSA contributes to environmentally, economically, socially and culturally sustainable development, and we aim to reduce our own environmental impact."

Contributing to a better world

A number of University research and teaching facilities make a significant contribution to environment sustainability.

Leading by example

In addressing environmental issues, we lead by example. A number of projects undertaken by the Facilities Management Unit are making sure our facilities operate in environmentally responsible ways.

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Our commitment to reduce greenhouse emissions by 2020

The Australian Technology Network (ATN) is an influential alliance of five distinctive and prominent Australian Universities. In February 2009 the ATN universities, including UniSA, announced a joint commitment to collectively reduce Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 10% of 2007 levels by 2012/13 and 25% by 2020/21. This target is equivalent to an ATN benchmark greenhouse gas intensity of 105 kg CO2-e/m2 per annum.

Due to UniSA's relatively low carbon emissions in comparison to its ATN partners, our target is to reduce Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 6% of 2007 levels by 2012/13 and 15% by 2020/21. This equates to a required greenhouse gas intensity of 85 kg CO2-e/m2 per annum by 2020 (cf 107 kg CO2-e/m2 per annum in 2007) based on an assumed growth of 1% of gross floor area per annum.

Energy and climate change

The cause of 90% of UniSA's direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions is the consumption of electricity to operate university facilities. Reducing the consumption of energy (electricity and gas) is the most cost-effective way to reduce UniSA's greenhouse gas emissions.

Options available to UniSA to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of its facilities in order of preference are: 

  • Energy conservation: avoiding unnecessary emissions, examples include switching off lights and computers when not in use. 
  • Energy efficiency: modifications to building systems and equipment to run more efficiently, examples include changing light fittings and upgrading old equipment with new.
  • Fuel substitution: switching to fuels with lower greenhouse gas emission intensity, examples include substitution of natural gas for grid electricity, purchase of Green Power, on-site or offsite generation of renewable energy and use of renewable transport fuels. 
  • Offsetting emissions: accredited emission offsets can be a legitimate means to lower residual emissions that are unavoidable.

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Green Star ratings for our buildings

All new UniSA buildings will achieve a minimum of five stars under the Green Star green building rating tools as awarded by the Green Building Council of Australia. The Green Star green building rating system is an industry recognised technical design guide to promote environmentally sustainable development. Green Star technical manuals have been developed by the Green Building Council of Australia to provide guidance for the design of various building types.

The Green Star environmental impact categories are:

  • Management
  • Indoor environment quality
  • Energy
  • Transport
  • Water
  • Materials
  • Land Use and Ecology
  • Emissions

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Our energy emissions inventory

During 2009 we commissioned an assessment of our 2008/09 carbon emissions in accordance with the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) Act 2007 which stipulates financial year reporting. Our Scope 1 and 2 emissions for 2008-09 total 24,970.3 tonnes CO2-e, a nominal reduction of 0.3% against the 2007 baseline. During the same period, UniSA's gross floor area grew by 1%.

UniSA Scope 1 and 2 emissions

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Benchmarking: How we measure up

The most recent Benchmark Report (2008) from the Tertiary Education Facilities Management Association shows UniSA as one of the most environmentally sustainable universities in Australia, being ranked 3rd and 12th in the sector for efficiency in terms of energy and water consumption respectively.

A comparison of UniSA's energy and water consumption against other Australian Universities is shown in the following graphs. Please note that energy consumption is a good surrogate for carbon emissions as the majority of Universities' Scope 1 and 2 emissions originate from electricity consumption (93% for UniSA).

Energy Consumption of Australian Universities


Water Consumption of Australian Universities


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Our Environmental Management Plan

The UniSA Facilities Management Unit has developed an Environmental Management Plan. For the period of 2010 to 2020. The plan addresses a range of strategies on the environmental themes of Energy Management, Water Management, Waste Management, Sustainable Transport and Ecological System.

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A sustainable water supply

Water conservation programs implemented since 2002 have reduced our annual consumption of potable water by 38%. This equates to a real saving of 91,506 KL of potable water each year, reducing our reliance on the ailing River Murray.

This saving of potable water is set to increase with Mawson Lakes Campus gaining the use of recycled, class A treated water for non-potable uses within buildings and irrigating open space from SA Water. Rain water is also captured at Mawson Lakes and stored in wetlands and underground rainwater tanks for use on campus open spaces.

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Waste management and recycling

Recycling at UniSA includes office paper, cardboard, fluorescent lighting tubes and bottles and cans covered by container deposit legislation. Currently approximately 35% of waste is recycled or used as a source of alternative fuel in the resources industry.

However, a recent waste audit undertaken by KESAB Environmental Solutions identified that up to 70% of waste in general waste bins could be recycled with a comprehensive recycling system across all campuses and facilities. UniSA is proud to report that 40% of waste is currently diverted from landfill but aims to increase this in the future with a recycling system at all campuses and facilities.

The University's SA Water Centre for Water Management and Reuse makes a considerable contribution to our knowledge around water and sustainability.

The Zero Waste SA Research Centre for Sustainable Design and Behaviour is a progressive research centre at UniSA, helping not only us but the community at large implement sustainable design.

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Ecological systems at the University

The use of local native vegetation in urban areas not only reduces demand for irrigated landscaping, but also increases habitats for native wildlife and can improve the quality of runoff water prior to storage and re-use. Additional benefits to green spaces on campus include ambient cooling and shade during high summer temperatures.

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Green transport

UniSA is exploring options to find the most environmentally friendly and cost effective transport solutions for staff and students. UniSA currently owns a fleet of 30 vehicles with 12 vehicles running on LPG. LPG powered vehicles are purchased when existing petrol and diesel powered vehicles come up for renewal.

UniSA subscribes all vehicles to the 'Greenfleet Vehicle' program; offsetting a total of 129 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year. Through this program native trees are planted to offset the vehicle fleets carbon emissions on an annual basis. UniSA also ensures the cars are not producing unnecessary carbon through regular servicing to ensure optimum performance.

Hughes Chauffeured Limousines provide intercampus transportation for the UniSA staff. The conditions of Hughes's contract with the UniSA include monthly reporting of carbon emissions that result from UniSA's travel with Hughes. UniSA staff are encouraged to 'car pool' when using Hughes Chauffeured Cars in order to reduce carbon output.

UniSA provides secure bicycle parking for staff and students who cycle to work, and is increasing the bicycle storage areas available on all campuses. Staff and students are encouraged to cycle to campus and make use of free secure bicycle storage facilities at City West, City East, City West and Magill campuses. 

The benefits of public transport extend further than cheap tickets and spare time to read and listen to music while someone else does the driving. There are health benefits involved in walking from door to bus stop and bus stop to destination at either end, not to mention the lower carbon footprint of public transport users.

High frequency bus services to Mawson Lakes include the 222, 224, 225 every 15 minutes and the Gawler train runs every 15 minutes.

Bus services to Magill campus include the 107x express on week day mornings and 106 every 15 minutes in the Go Zone.

For more information on route timetables and bus stop locations see the Adelaide Metro website. Enjoy the ride and know that you're doing your planet a favour.

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Areas of study and research

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