Going all out for a greener campus

30 August 2017 | General News
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Mr Masagos (left) trying out an activity at the booth of NUS Students Against Violation of the Earth

The inaugural sustainABLE NUS Showcase — a two-day exhibition and carnival featuring NUS’ initiatives to become a greener campus as well as efforts in research and education addressing sustainability challenges — was held at NUS University Town on 29 and 30 August. Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, graced the occasion as the Guest-of-Honour.

In his opening address, Mr Masagos spoke of the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015, which outlines the nation’s approach towards growing the economy and protecting the environment. “To realise our vision, we need innovative technological solutions that are also scalable. The NUS plays an important role in furthering our understanding of how we can leverage on technology to be more sustainable,” he said. Mr Masagos also commended NUS for recognising the need for graduates who were well-versed across multiple disciplines to tackle increasingly complex environmental problems.

NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan affirmed the University’s commitment to making Singapore a vibrant, liveable and sustainable city. “As the National University of Singapore, we really wish to contribute significantly to these efforts through our research, education and campus development.”

Prof Tan highlighted the University’s wide ranging initiatives and multifaceted approaches to going green. On the research front, this included projects like a real-time monitoring software and hardware system to map Singapore’s solar resource, a world’s first of its kind, which was developed and implemented by the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore at NUS.

The showcase featured the University’s sustainability initiatives in four areas — operations; research and education; community engagement; and partnerships.

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Students from BES Drongos are nature lovers from the Bachelor of Environmental Studies (BES) programme who offer guided walks to help people appreciate local biodiversity

On the operations front, the NUS Sustainability Steering Committee promotes sustainability in the planning, development and operation of the University’s environment and facilities. The Committee is headed by Professor Yong Kwet Yew, NUS Vice President (Campus Infrastructure) and comprises five task forces which oversee energy; water management; waste minimisation and recycling; built environment; and green spaces.

The NUS community is making progress towards its goals of reducing energy and water intensity usage by 20 per cent by 2020, using 2012 as a baseline reference. From 2015 to 2016, the overall recycling rate on campus also grew from 14 per cent to 17 per cent.

NUS’ sustainability research efforts are also spurred on by the NUSustainability Cluster, which creates ecosystems for development, translation and test-bedding of sustainability solutions. Chaired by Professor Philip Liu, NUS Vice President (Research & Technology) and Professor Lam Khee Poh, Dean of NUS Design and Environment, the Cluster brings together faculty, staff and students from eight faculties for interdisciplinary collaboration on five research focus areas — Food, Energy, Environment, Waste and Water.

To realise our vision, we need innovative technological solutions that are also scalable. The NUS plays an important role in furthering our understanding of how we can leverage on technology to be more sustainable.

At the event, NUS Environmental Research Institute (NERI) showcased NUSoil, a project that converts food waste into plant soil. “We can use the good bacteria and fungi repeatedly from the soil system as probiotics so that they can enhance the food production in a shorter period of time and reduce pesticide use as well,” explained NUS Biological Sciences Associate Professor Sanjay Swarup, Deputy Director of NERI.

Another project by a Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) researcher similarly looked at developing a sustainable waste management system on campus, but by using black soldier fly larvae to convert food waste into fertiliser. The students’ showcase also included one from Ridge View Residential College, which tested out the idea of a “coffee chair”, with a seat made from a mixture of spent coffee grounds and beeswax.

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Mr Foo Maosheng, LKCNHM Curator of Cryogenic Collection and NUS Biological Sciences alumnus with some Black Soldier Fly larvae, which can sustainably convert food waste into fertiliser

The event featured 28 booths by faculties, research institutes and student groups in NUS, as well those by various government agencies and community organisations.

See media coverage.