The University of the Sunshine Coast is committed to environmental sustainability for the benefit of students, staff and the wider community.
Explore sustainability in a variety of forms across the University:
- courses and programs
- architecture and campus development
- environment and conservation
- sustainability partnerships (community engagement)
- sustainable transport
The University's teaching and research efforts increasingly focus on sustainability and the environment, with courses and programs offered in areas such as climate change adaptation, sustainability, environmental science, environment and water (civil engineering), and more.
The University offers a four-course minor and an eight-course major in Sustainability, encouraging students to apply the principles of sustainability to their career, a business idea or everyday lifestyle. The minor is available to most undergraduate students, depending on the course requirements of their degree program.
Postgraduate programs (both coursework and research) within the science and sustainability discipline develop specialist knowledge and encourage new ideas across a range of sustainability-related fields.
Sustainability, aquaculture and forestry are the core research foci at USC. The 2012 Excellence in Research for Australia evaluation rated USC’s performance as above world standard in the key research focus area of applied genetics in the fields of forestry and aquaculture.
The Sustainability Research Centre encompasses a range of disciplines and conducts transdisciplinary research aligned with social, behavioural and economic sciences. The centre's disciplinary focus is on the social sciences, with niche area research projects focused on societal adaptation.
The GeneCology Research Centre operates in the areas of ecology, genomics and physiology, with researchers from the group partners in the Seafood CRC, the cooperative research centre that achieved the world-first captive breeding of Southern Bluefin Tuna.
The new Forest Industries Research Centre will focus on the economic and environmental sustainability of forest industries. Research will concentrate on tropical and sub-tropical forestry and the processing of novel commercial species to support a strong value-added processing sector.
The University of the Sunshine Coast Herbarium houses a collection of plant specimens donated by the Queensland Forestry Research Institute, now housed in a purpose-built space within the Library.
The University is also a partner in National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, a national interdisciplinary effort to generate the information needed by decision-makers in government and in vulnerable sectors and communities to manage the risks of climate change impacts.
The environment has been a primary consideration throughout the University's development. USC was the first university in Queensland to sign the international Talloires Declaration, pledging its support of environmental initiatives around the campus and surrounding community.
The University of the Sunshine Coast is a flora and fauna reserve, spread over 100 hectares adjoining the Mooloolah River National Park. This location has seen high importance placed on the managed development of the campus.
All buildings on campus focus on environmentally sustainable design (ESD) to suit the sub-tropical climate of the Sunshine Coast. Some of the University's ESD strategies include:
- passive lighting and natural ventilation to minimise the use of non-renewable energy
- extensive use of screens, fins, sun shelters and tree plantings to reduce direct sunlight on buildings
- chilled water to supply air-conditioning to buildings, where applicable
- integrated building cooling systems, including atriums, breezeways, louvres, thermal chimneys and high loft ceilings to allow for the movement of warm air away from work and teaching spaces
- locating buildings to take advantage of prevailing breezes
- using lightweight building fabric and low maintenance materials
The buildings on campus have received more than 30 awards for planning, architecture and construction, and the University has been a joint winner of the Wildcard Award from the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).
The award recognises USC’s significant contribution to the urban development industry and the community; its commitment to best-practice urban design and sustainable development; and its encouragement of creative and artistic flair in campus development.
Additionally, USC is the only institution in Australia to hold full EnviroDevelopment accreditation from the UDIA for achieving elements of sustainability across six categories—ecosystems, waste, energy, materials, water and community.
To reduce the environmental footprint of car-based travel to campus, a number of initiatives have been developed around sustainable transport.
Several companies in the University's Innovation Centre are commercialising sustainability ventures, in areas such as solar, lighting solutions, water metering and environmental consultancy.
Many of the pieces in the University's art and sculpture collection have sustainability or Indigenous themes.
USC acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which the University stands.
USC's campus at Sippy Downs is situated within the Mooloolah River catchment. Like the Mooloolah River National Park, which borders the campus, the University site was once coastal lowland vegetation, including open heath and Eucalypt forest. Until the 1940s, the site was left relatively untouched until it was used for farming sugar cane until the 1990s.
The University campus covers about 1 km2 (100 ha) and sits along a tributary to the Mooloolah River. The wider Mooloolah River catchment totals an area of 223 km2, and plays a vital role in helping to maintain water quality and protect aquatic ecosystems. All water that travels over the campus passes directly into the Mooloolah River National Park. Sippy Downs receives an average of 1600mm of rainfall per year.
The Mooloolah River National Park is a sensitive estuarine area of wallum heath, eucalypt woodlands and tea-tree swamps, and constitutes one of the largest remaining areas of valuable wallum heath habitat on the Sunshine Coast.
The vegetation on campus provides important habitat for many animal species. The University's policy is to use native plants throughout the campus.
There are four main areas where native vegetation exists: the remnant vegetation patch, the tree plantings behind the lakes, the compensatory habitat, and native gardens in and around the main buildings.
Many of the species present have been important to Indigenous people as food and natural medicine. For a full list of flora refer to the Master Plan planting list.
The University's proximity to the National Park, combined with the open spaces on campus, has seen an increasing population of eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus) finding sanctuary on site.
Around 50 of the kangaroos are estimated to travel between the campus and the National Park, some using wildlife underpasses at nearby Claymore Road.
Urban wildlife conservation students take part in an annual campus kangaroo population survey to track movements. The students also survey frogs, reptiles, birds and mammals using various techniques, including camera trapping.
Between 2005 and 2010, six species of frogs, 16 species of native mammals and 17 species of reptiles were identified on campus. Survey work by representatives of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland has identified more than 80 native bird species on campus, many around the bird refuge in the University's main lake.
To aid in the protection of this important and unique habitat, the University has implemented a number of environmental initiatives and has an Environmental Advisory Committee to advise on strategies and initiatives that impact on the campus environment and surrounds.
The University has identified wildlife reserves around the campus.
Please do not approach the wild kangaroos.
Please do not approach or photograph snakes on campus—many are poisonous.
Domestic animals are prohibited on University grounds at all times.