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A passion for living labs recognised with award

20 June 2017

Colleagues who nominated Dr Dena Fam for the UTS Green Hero award describe her as ‘a force of nature’ and passionate about bringing both students, staff and industry partners together to work on sustainability oriented projects.

Dena’s passion for practical sustainability solutions at UTS has driven her to design and implement a number of ‘living lab’ projects at UTS with students from across Design (UTS & WUS), Engineering (UTS), Law (UNSW) and Agriculture (WUS). Over the last 2 years she has been leading a project funded by the NSW EPA to install rapid food waste decomposing systems in two UTS buildings with the aim of managing 100% of the organic food waste streams produced by staff, student and café kitchens onsite. While UTS facilities management has been involved in the practical installation of the systems, Dena has actively engaged UTS Design students to improve the food waste management practices, technologies and communications at UTS. 

Dena designed and developed the ‘Wealth From Waste’, Living Lab with Dr Alexandra Crosby. The Lab takes an interdisciplinary design approach and develops students' skills in collaboration and teamwork.  Dena’s Green Hero award commends her for the way she links her students to real world settings with industry partners so students get a genuine experience of designing for sustainability.

Dr Dena Fam (at right) with Facilities Management staff, design students and cleaners visiting the organics processing system in the basement of building 10.

In addition to her facilitation of living lab projects, Dena is currently managing the Pyrmont Ultimo Precinct research project. This research will identify, at a high level, the volumes of organic flows and the range of opportunities possible for reducing resource use and waste generation in this dense urban setting. It will focus on organic waste streams to help identify how organic waste can be diverted from landfill by separating and managing waste streams locally where appropriate. The study will consider low and high rise residential areas, commercial areas and key sites such as Central Park, Star City, the Power House Museum, Fish Markets, TAFE and UTS.

Plenty of other UTS Green Heroes make a personal contribution to progressing sustainability at the University. The awards celebrate participation, showcase impressive initiatives and inspire others to get involved. Other 2017 nominees and winners are inventing ways to reduce waste, involving communities in gardening, increasing social equity, reducing pollution, walking impressive distances to work and much more.

Dena’s enthusiasm inspires everyone she works with and we are thrilled she has been recognised as the 2017 UTS Green Hero!