UTS Environmental Sustainability Initiative: Case Study

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Implementing environmental sustainability programs across university campuses presents both opportunities and challenges. The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) launched a coordinated approach to sustainability in 2008. This paper presents a case study of UTS’s Environmental Sustainability Initiative (ESI). It begins by outlining the aims and governance structures for the initiative which consists of a Sustainability Steering Committee; Committee of Working Group Heads and then working groups across six focus areas of energy, transport, procurement, water, waste, planning and design, and also reporting and communications. The paper then describes the development and consultation processes, and final outcomes, for three strategy documents in the areas of climate change (energy), transport and paper use (procurement). We discuss the role that such working groups, together with other support structures, can play in creating a more sustainable university, and offer practical guidance for other universities and organisations undergoing organisational change for sustainability. We also discuss some of the challenges that emerged such as: how to engage with staff and students to develop shared aspirations and reflect these in tangible objectives, targets and actions; and how to evolve organisational structures to implement strategies and create a sustainable higher education institution.
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