Guide to encourage green universities

05 January 2015 | Education
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NUS' environmental initiative to encourage electronic waste recycling

NUS, together with nine other top universities under the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), has collaborated with Scandinavian think tank Sustainia to develop the Green Guide for Universities. The sustainability resource shares ideas that make it easy for universities around the world to go green.

The new study presents 23 tangible and inspiring case studies of successful environmental, financial, and social interventions and best sustainability practices already implemented at NUS, Yale University, University of California at Berkeley, University of Cambridge, University of Copenhagen, Peking University, University of Tokyo, Australian National University, ETH Zurich and University of Oxford.

Building on the hands-on experience of these world-class educational institutions, the guide offers a portfolio of easy-to-access tools and guidance for building maintenance, green purchasing, transportation, as well as employee and student involvement across campus and between departments.

“Universities have the opportunity to create cultures of sustainability for today’s students and tomorrow’s leaders, and to set their expectations for how the world should be. The Green Guide provides real-world examples to inspire innovative and creative action at universities around the globe,” said ETH Zurich’s President Ralph Eichler, Chair of IARU.

The guide highlights the successful plastic bag tax initiated in 2009 by Students Against Violation of the Earth (SAVE) at NUS. The initiative was implemented after a student survey showed a strong 87 per cent support for a reduction in plastic bag usage. SAVE worked with administrative offices overseeing the retail and dining establishments across campus to put in place a 10 cents tax per plastic bag at five canteens and several retail outlets. In addition, monetary rebates are given to encourage students and staff to use their own lunch boxes and water bottles, thereby changing their attitudes and habits in relation to consumption.

SAVE President Aisha Redzuwan said: “The 10 cents tax might be insignificant in amount, but serves as a powerful reminder of the environmental responsibility consumers have in reducing plastic consumption and giving back for what is taken.”

The tax collected is channelled to the NUS Sustainability Fund for student-initiated environmental projects such as building community gardens and composting food waste.

The Green Guide also applauds the efforts undertaken by the Office of Environmental Sustainability at NUS to spread sustainability messages via popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and the corporate website.

Examples of successful green initiatives by other IARU universities are featured which include sustainability training, sustainable building policies, waste recycling, financial incentives for department energy savings and implementing measures to discourage the use of private transportation.

Download the free Green Guide for Universities.