We are committed to leading by example and taking care of our own backyard. We are making all Victoria University campuses and spaces welcoming, inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable through collaboration with our students, our staff and our communities.
Sustainability at VU
Net Zero principles
Our Net Zero Plan
We are taking action for a more sustainable future by reducing our carbon emissions to zero by 2025.
Victoria University endorsed a Net Zero Plan in December 2021, outlining opportunities to change processes, behaviours and infrastructure, expand our influence, and challenge our partner organisations to do the same.
After broad consultation with staff and students, a series of impactful initiatives were developed to reduce our emissions. Many of these are outlined in the sustainability projects listed below.
We have a responsibility in all that we do to improve the health and wellbeing of our local and global communities, and the planet that we share. This is our commitment to the UN SDGs and Protecting Country.
Image description: 'Towards net zero: Victoria University's CO2 emissions (tonnes):
- 2019: 37,264
- 2021: 20,644
- 2022: 21,000; 6,000*
*Estimated – after electricity offset
Image description: a world globe showing the words
- Mandate net zero within our boundary.
- Influence and advocate partners outside our boundary.
- Amplify impacts in the global community.
Energy & greenhouse gas efficiency
We encourage our staff to reduce greenhouse gases by riding a bike to work, carpooling, or taking public transport. VU offers free shuttle buses to take staff and students to and from local train stations for many of our campuses.
Rainwater & recycled water
The state-of-the-art rainwater harvesting and backwash treatment facility at our Footscray Park Aquatic and Fitness Centre saves approximately 2 million litres of water annually by recycling the water for reuse in the pool. Campus water consumption is reduced by use of rainwater tanks at Footscray Park and Sunshine for reticulating to bathrooms and for landscape use; by reusing bathroom water for our landscaping; and by limiting the use of mains fed sprinklers.
5 Star Green Buildings
All new buildings at VU are designed to a minimum '5 Star Green Star – Education' rating. The Sport and Learning Precinct building at Footscray Park Campus features an array of sustainable design features and state-of-the-art sport and exercise science facilities and learning spaces, and our new VU City Tower recycled 90% of construction material.
Waste & recycling
Almost everything can be re-used or recycled at VU! We provide recycle bins for paper, cardboard, bottles, cans, plastic, toner cartridges and scrap metal (Sunshine Campus). Mobile phones can be recycled in special bins located at each library and we reuse furniture and electronic equipment in our offices and teaching areas too.
The University is working on a number of initiatives aimed at improving our focus on Ethical Procurement. In addition to Policy and Procedure updates, Modern Slavery compliance and awareness in our supply chain will also be an important initiative in 2022.
Renewable energy purchase
Victoria University entered into a power purchase agreement to procure 100% renewable electricity on 1 July 2021. The agreement, with Iberdrola Australia, aligns with the university’s new strategic direction and its commitment to working to Protect Country. Victoria University’s commitment to renewable energy will reduce carbon emissions by an average of 23,305 tonnes of CO2-e per annum.
The Iramoo Wildflower Grassland Reserve adjacent to our St Albans Campus is one of the last remaining pockets of Indigenous flora and fauna in the region. The Iramoo Grassland Centre and Nursery at St Albans is dedicated to the conservation and regeneration of the flora indigenous to the region. The centre features a Bush Food display garden of plants used by Aboriginal people which offers a self-guided tour.
Campus & regional greening
VU has commenced a series of landscaping projects for campus greening that emphasise water conservation and biodiversity through the use of water hardy indigenous plants and opportunities to embed water capture. We are working with west of Melbourne communities groups and local councils to replant using flora indigenous to the region to preserve biodiversity and for water conservation.
Developing VU into a green, sustainable & climate-smart campus
This project will develop a green living lab on VU campuses, which will comprise green roofs, walls and facades. Such a living lab will be used for both research and teaching.
The first of VU’s Green-Living Labs, a rooftop garden of native plants and wetland area, was installed in 2020 at Footscray Park campus. The living lab is used for research, teaching and community education on the value of green infrastructure for building thermal properties, to counter the urban heat island effect, for the quality of water run-off capture and to boost biodiversity across sites. Guided tours of the living lab for school and community groups have commenced and are part of community events on the campus.
Biodiversity on VU campuses
In partnership with researchers, Moondani Balluk, academic staff, students and facilities, we will create a series of projects to enhance each campus's local biodiversity and sustainability.
Greening the west
'Greening the West' is a regional initiative to enrich communities in Melbourne’s west through the development of green spaces. Urban greening can be a low-cost strategy that will bring high-impact results – environmentally, economically and, crucially, for the health and wellbeing of the communities of the west. VU has joined with key organisations in the Greening the West alliance in support of place-based planetary health, and will look to join existing initiatives (e.g. 1 Million Trees for Melbourne’s West) and advocate for new projects to make the west greener.
Staff & student initiatives
Buy, swap & sell at VU
In the spirit of planetary health, this group has been established with the intention of encouraging everyone at VU to reduce, reuse and recycle.
Help limit your contributions to landfill by recycling your preloved goods through our Yammer community forum (staff only).
Offices without single-use plastic
Our aim is to stop use of single-use plastics and takeaway cups, and to recycle in VU's offices. We supply reusable cups and bags, and take office material for recycling.
Cafes & shops without single-use plastic
VU values sustainability and is partnering with on-campus retailers and researchers to phase out single-use plastics and find alternative sustainable-packaging solutions.
Email your interest to [email protected].
Sustainable development goals
VU has made a strategic commitment to protecting Country and addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at every opportunity.
The 17 SDGs align with VU’s strong tradition of social justice and our moral purpose of transforming the lives of students and communities. We are holding ourselves accountable for protecting Country and contributing to the SDGs through our sustainable practices.
Planetary Health Alliance
We are a proud member of the Planetary Health Alliance, a consortium of over 200 universities, non-governmental organisations, research institutes, and government entities from around the world committed to understanding and addressing global environmental change and its health impacts.
VU is taking a place-based approach, emphasising the importance of context in finding sustainable solutions through working with local communities and addressing local conditions – and sharing globally.
There are three particularly important foundational ‘places’ or contexts in our work:
- our role as the university of Melbourne’s west
- our place on Aboriginal Country
- our responsibilities as a global citizen.
Each context guides our thinking and our priorities.
Our sustainability report
Victoria University’s (VU) strong commitment to the realisation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is founded on our distinctive models for higher and vocational education.
The recently released Strategic Plan 2022–2028, ‘Start Well Finish Brilliantly’, builds on past achievements and successes in transforming VU’s place in the economy, society and environment, and charts a course to be a global leader in dual-sector learning and research by 2028.
The plan’s strategic drivers to achieve our vision speak explicitly to the UN SDGs.
Find out more about our strategic approach to addressing the United Nations SDGs in our Sustainability Reports:
The 2022 Report will be available in November 2023.