Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2011
- Delivering a healthy working Basin for Australia: Water for the Future Local Story - Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (PDF - 4,481 KB)
Program: Green Precincts Fund
Funding Recipient: Australian National University
Water for the Future funding: $1,032,980
Project Commencement: October 2009
Project Completion: June 2012
The Australian National University (ANU), one of the largest organisations in Canberra, is establishing itself as a sustainability ‘classroom’ to inspire other organisations.
Contact site at University Avenue
With the help of more than $1 million in funding from the Australian Government's Green Precincts Fund, the university is showing real achievements in effective climate change solutions, significant water savings and reduced energy use.
Dr Su Wild-River, Deputy Manager ANUgreen, says the project has bold and measurable goals.
“We plan to reduce the university's carbon emissions by an estimated 1,529 tonnes - the equivalent of taking 416 cars off the road each year – and also completely halt the use of potable water in the university landscape by 2015,” she says.
The water saving goal is a major one for the university, which has three ovals on campus.
“We are using a mix of strategies including installing synthetic turf to replace irrigated playing surfaces; installing a subsurface water harvesting system; using stormwater harvesting and creek water to irrigate natural areas and incorporating water sensitive urban design, and water metering,” says Su.
Energy savings will be achieved by using solar energy and reducing overall energy usage.
“We've installed a photovoltaic solar panel system on the Student Association building,” Su said. “The system will feed the equivalent of the annual energy needs of five average Canberra households back into the ANU grid every year.”
ANU sporting field - synthetic turf
ANUgreen is also carrying out a complete building management system upgrade.
By improving the facilities offered to bicycle commuters, the university aims to increase the use of carbon-neutral transport on campus.
“We launched a new program called ‘Go Green, Get Lean’ – which encouraged people to cycle long distances,” says Su. “We offered a mentoring program, fitness tests and maps. It's been great to see people tending to continue cycling after the program finished.”
The ANU is taking a holistic approach to the project, planning a range of green events including festivals, debates and seminars that aim to reach the broader community and promote opportunities for sustainable linkages and partnerships in the corporate community.
The project also has a strong grass roots component – students, as well as staff, are actively involved.
“So far 41 projects have been delivered by student groups at ANU, involving 74 students, three teachers and 45 external organisations,” says Su. “We see the social capital part of the project as very important – in fact a PhD student project showed that significant social capital has already been achieved.
“We're one of the largest organisations in Canberra and by using the campus as a classroom to teach sustainability, we hope this project will have a ripple effect and provide inspiration for our students and for other organisations to follow suit.”
ANU public playing field