UTS takes sustainability seriously. As a university of technology committed to reducing our environmental impacts, as well as to social justice and real-world change, it makes sense that sustainability is integrated across all areas of what we do.
From world-leading research and industry partnerships to events on campus to our sustainable buildings, there are lots of examples of the practical steps we’re taking to improve sustainable practices.
Here are some of the more visible sustainability measures that you can spot as you make your way around campus.
- The Vicki Sara Building ‘green roof’
The green roof that tops the Vicki Sara Building (Building 7) isn’t just there to improve the view. The garden of Australian natives and other drought-resistant plants also insulates the building, improves air quality, absorbs rainwater and provides a habitat for birds, insects and animals. Excess water captured by the specially designed paver system is used in the building’s toilets and to water the garden between showers. While access to the rooftop is limited, the green vista can be spotted and enjoyed from north-facing Tower balconies, the Aerial function centre in Building 10, Alumni Green and from the internal corridors of the upper floors of Building 7. Find out more about sustainability and the Vicki Sara Building.
- The Faculty of Engineering and IT Building’s ‘Harry Potter’ staircase system
Some staff and students say that the intricate staircase system found in the Faculty of Engineering and IT (FEIT) Building is just like the magical stairs at Hogwarts – although there is one big difference. With the aim of burning calories not coal, on our stairs only users move, not the stairs themselves. The highly visible stair system is designed to give easy access to all levels of the building, particularly for those making short trips between one or two floors. The designer staircases in the Dr Chau Chak Wing and Vicki Sara buildings serve the same purpose – giving people an attractive and sustainable option for moving between floors. You might also notice that the escalators in the FEIT Building use sensors to shift between low-power standby mode and to full-speed when in use.
- The Business School built with sustainable material
Frank Gehry’s ‘Crumpled Paper Bag’ (aka the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building aka Building 8 aka the UTS Business School) is known for its exceptional design. The 5 Star Design certified Green Star building also boasts some exceptional sustainability features. One of the most obvious is the array of sustainable materials that gives the building its distinctive look. Timber has been reused, recycled or sourced from sustainable sources. Locally sourced bricks that are durable and low maintenance feature across the unique ‘paper bag’ façade, while ‘green concrete’ includes flyash, a waste product from power stations. Check out the fact sheet on the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building's sustainable design features.
- Rooftop solar panels
You might be hard pressed to spot them from the ground, but from the upper levels of many of our buildings you have a bird’s eye view of the solar technology that’s generating power and heating water across our campus. Over the past few years, more than 800 solar panels have been installed across the top of buildings 4 and 11, the Yura Mudang student housing in Building 6 and the Aerial UTS Function Centre in Building 10. This has seen our on-site renewable energy use jump 980 per cent since 2015. A rooftop system on the Vicki Sara Building provides solar hot water to that building. As a city campus with limited roof space, UTS can only get about two per cent of our energy needs from on-site solar, so additional renewable energy is bought from off-site solar farms in Orange and Singleton.
- High-tech sensors reducing energy consumption
The systems that run UTS buildings are getting smarter and working harder to reduce our environmental footprint. A high-tech Building Management System (BMS) controls lights, heating and cooling, using information from timetabling and from sensors that monitor room temperatures and other environmental factors. In the FEIT Building, occupancy sensors count the number of people using the collaborative theatres, gathering information that can be used to dial-down energy intensive air-conditioning when these spaces aren’t being used. With energy prices at an all-time high, these green initiatives are also saving money that can be reinvested in other areas of the university. Read more about the FEIT Building's sustainable design.
- Old-fashioned sunlight
Another way we’re reducing energy use across campus is by designing new buildings to increase the use of natural light. The Vicki Sara Building is a great example of innovative design that maximises sunlight throughout internal spaces, using skylights, portholes and an oculus that pops out in Alumni Green. The stairwell is lit by its own skylight, allowing sunlight to cascade down from level 7 to level 2. One of the most impressive features of the building is the distinctive mosaic wall, covered in thousands of pastel-coloured tiles sourced from Spain. The colours and curves of the wall reflect light from street-level windows down to lower levels of the building, providing Vitamin D to the lab rats underground.
- Water filling stations and bubblers to reduce single-use plastic
Bottle filling stations and bubblers have been placed all around campus, so staff and students can avoid buying water in single-use plastic bottles. Many staff kitchens and students lounges have been fitted with customised deep sinks, so reusable bottles can fit under taps. Find a full list of water stations and bubblers here. If you don’t have a filling station within easy walking distance of where you work or study, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Green waste bins
Organic food waste is an excellent source of nutrients for gardens and agriculture. UTS now collects food waste from our on-site cafés and staff offices, which is processed on campus in two dehydrator machines to make ‘soil conditioner’. The conditioner can be mixed with nutrients and added to soil to encourage the growth of more delicious organic matter (i.e. fruits, vegetables and grains).
- Bike-friendly facilities
Cycling is one of the healthiest and most sustainable transport options. To make it wheely easy to bike your way to and from UTS, you can find bike parking across campus, with a number of secure cages available as well as more standard bike racks. Shower facilities can also be found at key locations, to let you freshen up after a sweaty ride. Find a full list of bike-friendly facilities here. All staff and students can request access to the showers and secure cages at the security office on level 4 of Building 1.