Envizi was proud to be a sponsor for the Green Gown Awards, part of the ACTS conference in 2019. The conference highlighted the continued sustainability leadership role that the higher education sector is taking, not only in making bold commitments, but also in taking innovative approaches to disrupt the status quo.
Four themes emerged from the conference sessions, bringing to life the ways that the Australian and New Zealand higher education sector is leading the way:
- Commitments to net zero, carbon reduction and renewable energy
More and more universities are setting ambitious goals for renewable energy and carbon abatement within their operations. Some examples:
- University of Newcastle, one of the finalists in this year’s Green Gown Awards, plans to source in 2020 100% of its power from renewables.
- University of Queensland is this year’s winner of the Green Gown 2030 Climate Action award for becoming the first major university in the world to produce 100 per cent of its power needs from its own renewable energy asset next year.
- Monash University has committed that by 2030 all of the energy used on our campuses will be from renewable sources.
- RMIT has committed to reduce its building emissions to a net zero position by 2030.
Organisations that are making public commitments recognize the need for robust, accurate and auditable reporting to support public disclosures and purchases of offsets.
- Alignment with the UN Sustainability Development Goals
Presentations at the conference highlighted the increasing number of universities that are aligning their sustainability activities and reporting with the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), which constitute a shared global framework of development priorities to 2030. As of September 2019, 16 Australian universities are signatories to a commitment to support and promote the principles of the SDGs, and report on their institutions progress in support of those goals.
Increasing alignment with the SDGs 17 goals and associated 169 targets underscores the need to put in place a streamlined, systematic approach for capturing the data, baselines and targets required to report internally and externally on the progress towards 2030.
For the past few years, many Australian and New Zealand universities have been benchmarking their operations through the TEFMA (Tertiary Education Facility Management Association) annual benchmarking survey, which covers energy, carbon, water and waste.
Two sessions at the conference brought together Australian universities who are taking the first steps towards reporting to global higher education benchmarks, such as the North American based STARS scorecard and the UK-based LiFE scorecard.
The latest STARS release (The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System by The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) focused on how the benchmarking is aligned with the UN SDGs, and how benchmarking can highlight areas of focus and identify leading institutions in different focus areas.
A common persistent challenge for reporting and benchmarking is data capture across all of the different reporting areas, from all of the different data sources across campuses. Which is exactly where Envizi shines!
- Increasing focus on resource efficiency beyond energy and carbon
In accordance with the SDGs, campuses are increasingly focused on improving performance across water, waste and recycling. Initiatives to reduce plastic, packaging, and single-use are in full bloom and were a key focus of the conference.
It was great to see such alignment and commitment to achieving sustainability outcomes across the sector.