GREEN with envy? We list the top 10 universities in Australia, according to their environmental credentials.

1. Monash University

Monash is the leader of the pack in its holistic approach to sustainability. It boasts several related degrees and study areas and 300 relevant courses, with extensive research across multiple areas. Monash’s china cabinet is already bursting with awards, including the 2010 Premier’s Sustainability Award, the UN Association Education Award and the 2009 Banksia Environmental Award. It has ambitious targets to reduce its carbon footprint and enhance its greenness.

2. Australian National University

ANU tends not to do things by halves. When it wins awards, they’re biggies. It collected the 2009 International Sustainable Campus Network award for engaging the uni community in its ANUgreen environment and sustainability program. On top of that it has another 16 local, regional and national awards to prove its point. ANU also hosts the Climate Change Institute with some of the country’s most influential thinkers and researchers.

3. Macquarie University

Macquarie collected a swag of gongs to prove its commitment to sustainability, including the 2010 NSW Green Globe Public Sector Award for its holistic approach to sustainability. It was last year’s NSW Keep Australia Beautiful runner up for water conservation, and was highly commended for waste minimisation. Macquarie was an early adopter, having won the 2001 Green Globe for its gas fuelled cogeneration plant which reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 44 per cent. Macquarie also scores green brownie points for its Australian Research Institute for Environment and Sustainability.

4. University of Western Sydney

UWS is comprehensively counting, tracking, benchmarking, funding and reporting on every aspect of its sustainability plan. It gets big ticks across the board: teaching and learning, research, community engagement and operations. From the big (commitment to create a living laboratory) to the small (carpets have 50 per cent recycled content) UWS is a shining light on how to walk the talk.

5. University of Adelaide

Adelaide isn’t just reaching for the green stars; it’s monopolising them. Its $100 million engineering, mathematical and computer sciences building, Innova21, is touted as “Australia’s first six-star Green Star Design, Education building” and won the 2011 National Award for Sustainable Architecture from the Australian Institute of Architects. The university was also awarded a sustainability licence from SA’s Environment Protection Authority, in recognition of its commitment to reducing its environmental impact. It runs an ‘ecoversity’ program through which it is working to reduce water consumption and waste and improve recycling. It is also home to the Centre for Climate Change.

6. University of Melbourne

Melbourne is approaching sustainability on three fronts: research, degree programs and external engagement. It has ambitious targets to make the university greener, covering energy, water, waste, building design, transport and procurement. It set a target to reduce its carbon footprint by 50 per cent by 2010 and to be carbon neutral by 2030.

7. Charles Sturt University

Winner of the 2011 Green Gown Award for Excellence from the Australian Campuses Towards Sustainability, Charles Sturt ticks a lot of green boxes – especially its Albury-Wodonga campus which stretches over 87 hectares and includes a herbarium. CSU has set operational targets to reduce energy and water use by 25 per cent, increase biodiversity by 20 per cent and become greenhouse neutral by 2015. It is among the leading universities in its approach to education for sustainability. The (green) cherry on the cake is a six star Green Star building.

8. University of the Sunshine Coast

It’s hard to go past a uni where kangaroos cozy up to students on the lawn. But there’s more to USC’s environmental commitment than a postcard campus. The university’s architecturally brave buildings have been designed from scratch to be energy efficient and reduce the need for air-con, even in humid Queensland. In October it became Australia’s first university to gain full accreditation from the Urban Development Institute of Australia for sustainability across six categories – ecosystems, waste, energy, materials, water and community. USC also hosts the simply named Sustainability Research Centre.

9. James Cook University

JCU is a world leader in reef and rainforest research, runs myriad undergraduate and postgraduate programs in biology and the environment, and won the 2010 Australian Business Award for environmental sustainability and the 2011 TEFMA Innovation Award for its approach to reducing energy consumption. It has even done a comprehensive audit of flora and fauna species on its campus.

10. La Trobe University

La Trobe collected the 2011 Green Gown Award for continuous improvement in institutional change, for “embedding sustainability into every facet of its activities”. It was the first university in the world to publish an externally assured sustainability report on its social, environmental and economic footprint. It achieved 11 per cent energy reduction between 2009 and 2010 and appointed Australia’s first pro vice-chancellor for sustainability.


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