Carbon Management Plan | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Carbon Management Plan

The Carbon Management Plan (CMP) is the University's roadmap to becoming zero net carbon. The actions that underpin the CMP are organised according to three main themes.

  • Management - Management systems and processes that underpin the Carbon Management Plan
  • Abatement - Abatement actions that contribute to emissions reduction efforts and which will minimise carbon offset purchases over time.
  • Engagement and capacity building - Capacity building actions to increase the skills and expertise of staff and students.

The University's Carbon Management Plan will set it on a cost-effective path to carbon neutrality.

Download the printer-friendly version Carbon Management Plan - A road map to zero net emissions by 2025 (PDF 1.5MB).

USC water battery at USC Sunshine Coast

UniSC's commitment to sustainability

The University of the Sunshine Coast values and supports sustainability across social, economic, cultural, and environmental dimensions and continues to align core responsibilities with the University’s strategic position on sustainability. USC is committed to sustainability through our culture and governance structures, excellence in teaching and research, and effective corporate practices. Community engagement with industry, government, and the broader community will continue to enhance sustainability across the region and, as UniSC’s promotion of the region’s social, economic, cultural, and environmental sustainability expands, the benefits to students, staff, and the wider community will be realised.

UniSC will position itself with a reputation for excellence in sustainability by providing an exceptional educational experience. To this end, UniSC has determined priorities in relation to the demonstration of leadership in sustainability, which include embedding sustainability in the University’s teaching and research programs and throughout our operations. UniSC will build on leadership in collaborative sustainability research, using sustainability principles to guide decision-making about areas of research focus and encourage scholarship and interdisciplinary research in sustainability.

UniSC’s key environmental leadership initiative is to be carbon neutral by 2025. The Carbon Management Plan (CMP) is the University’s roadmap to achieve this vision.

UniSC is committed to achieving exemplary sustainability practices for higher education institutions, and will meet or exceed where possible in relation to its legislative responsibilities and regulatory requirements for sustainability.

UniSC recognises that our sustainability legacy will be realised primarily through the impact of our teaching and research, including the contribution of graduates as active, informed citizens and leaders who are knowledgeable about sustainability and its practices. UniSC will raise public awareness through stewardship of the environment and proactively engage through collaborative approaches with staff, students and partners in the broader community to promote sustainability in the local region and beyond.

The environmental landscape

Global setting

At the Conference of the Parties, Paris, 2015 (COP21) nations committed to limit global temperature increases to no more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, and urged greater efforts to limit the increase to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Australia has adopted a range of initiatives and targets relating to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and renewable energy to move towards this target, which includes adopting renewable energy targets supported by government agencies to encourage investment in renewable energy and carbon reduction, and to help make these measures more affordable through grants and incentives.

Local action

The University of the Sunshine Coast first opened at its Sippy Downs campus in 1995. All buildings on the campus focus on environmentally sustainable design to suit the sub-tropical climate of the Sunshine Coast and have received more than 30 awards for planning, architecture, and construction.

The University is a joint winner of the Wildcard Award from the Urban Development Institute of Australia, the only institution in Australia to hold full EnviroDevelopment accreditation for achieving elements of sustainability across six categories – ecosystems, waste, energy, materials, water, and community.

Initiatives - Major solar and integrated energy management project

UniSC is leading the way with an integrated and innovative approach to energy management. UniSC and Veolia will be working to implement a major energy saving project at its UniSC Sunshine Coast campus located at Sippy Downs. This project will include over 6000 solar PV panels installed on roofs across the campus and two additional car park structures. The key aspect of its design is the smart integration between each element of the system. Energy load will be shifted between the solar PV, mains electricity and thermal energy storage tank (which effectively acts as a thermal battery).

A sophisticated Building Management System will react to changing conditions on campus, in real time, and select the best source of energy to minimise energy use, carbon emissions and costs.

This project adds to UniSC's existing energy reduction strategies including:

  • Use of smart controls in many buildings, including the library, lecture theatres, offices and sports stadium. These controls sense the people load in the building according to the amount of CO2 in the air and adjust the supply of air-conditioning accordingly. This has led to a significant reduction in energy use, including energy savings of 58% for the large lecture theatres, and savings of 49% for the library.
  • Widespread installation of power factor correction across the campus, ensuring that electricity is used more efficiently.
  • Use of variable speed controls on chilled water pumps, so that chilled water is pumped at a rate consistent with the demand for air-conditioning. This has enabled a significant reduction in electricity use in cooler months when demand for air-conditioning is low.

The variety of sustainability initiatives implemented campus-wide has achieved significant environmental and financial savings, such as a utility cost savings of $1.85m since 2012. Some of the key initiatives include:

  • Sustainable transport including a bike hub, fuel-efficient vehicles, purpose-built 100% solar-powered buggies, and a shuttle bus service to UniSC Gympie, UniSC Sunshine Coast, UniSC North Lakes Hub and UniSC Caboolture which helps avoid the use of personal transport reducing both emissions and road congestion.
  • In 2013, UniSC adopted an innovative total waste streaming
    system that includes onsite processing of green/organic waste. Food scraps, compostable plates, cups and cutlery sold at campus food outlets, paper hand towels, and cardboard is converted into nutrient-rich compost for the campus gardens.
  • UniSC was the first University in Queensland and the second in Australia to stop the sale of single-use plastic water bottles on campus and provide a variety of water refill options instead.
  • Improving energy efficiency for heating, ventilation and air conditioning and phasing in the transition to LED lighting across the University have provided operational efficiencies to minimise energy use.

Our approach

The development of a Carbon Management Plan (CMP) was the first step to becoming zero net carbon.

As a foundation to developing the plan, two workshops were held where organisational stakeholders across the University met to set goals, decide on activities to focus on in the short, medium and long term, to determine the carbon footprint boundary, and identify suitable carbon abatement measures.

Workshop 1

The first workshop was run early in the project and resulted in recommendations that included:

To be NCOS certified carbon neutral by 2020 to 2025. Australia’s National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) provides a framework under which organisations may voluntarily show, with the highest level of assurance, that carbon neutrality has been met.

To improve data collection and tracking/reporting on carbon emissions sources and expand the collection of carbon emissions sources over time across all campuses.

To initially focus measurable carbon abatement efforts on in-house initiatives, followed by those that cannot be abated through onsite measures, such as the purchase of renewable energy or carbon offsets, and developing renewable energy generation.

Develop action plans to implement sustainable procurement, sustainability learning, and awareness initiatives and events that will underpin efforts to build the University’s culture of sustainability and lower future emissions.

To include staff and student engagement actions, such as an annual Sustainable USC Day, integrating sustainable practices into position descriptions, ‘switch-it-off’ campaigns to save energy, sustainability and carbon reduction as a part of HR inductions, staff updates and, in events and marketing materials, sustainable purchasing and procurement; real-time sustainability performance dashboard displays; reusable-cup incentive program; end-of-trip cycling facilities; electric vehicle charging points; composting machinery; ride-sharing services and/or an app with real-time transport planning.

A key finding from this workshop was that the University community wanted to ensure that it would be involved in shaping the CMP and be part of the carbon neutral journey to help the University meet its targets.

Workshop 2

The second workshop followed the development of the draft carbon abatement business case, draft CMP governance actions, and draft staff engagement action plan. The workshop also identified the following preferred carbon abatement and staff and student engagement actions:

  • solar PV installations
  • large-scale renewable energy generation
  • thermal energy storage project at Sippy Downs
  • running an annual Sustainable USC Day
  • sustainable procurement
  • sustainability champions award program
  • staff and student engagement actions
  • organic waste management
  • learning and course-related actions
  • governance of the CMP
  • responsibilities and accountabilities for the CMP

It was also identified that:

  • the Moreton Bay campus should be carbon neutral
  • the Fraser Coast campus should be used as a test site for clean/renewable technologies, possibly in conjunction with a student research project
  • the focus should be on energy efficiency and renewable energy options first, ahead of purchasing carbon offsets or renewable energy
  • more onsite organic waste treatment was desired.

Measuring performance

The University’s goal is to be carbon neutral by 2025. It is intended that UniSC’s ambition will also increase over time by widening the scope of emissions sources included and expanding the facilities and services accounted for.
While the scope and scale of emissions sources at sites is known with accuracy, other emissions data, such as for student travel, may be improved over time. As data for more emissions sources is collated and included, forecasts will be refined along with future carbon-neutral obligations.