Our environmental footprint is causing significant change to our natural systems and contributing to displacement, loss and conflict for communities.

We are examining some of the challenges in our environments, including ways that we can reduce our impact.

We measure our projects against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a framework of 17 common aims for improving the health of our planet and its people.


Green & sustainable VU campuses

Title: Developing VU into a green, sustainable and climate smart campus
Researchers: Nitin Muttil, Anne Ng, Hing-Wah Chau

Victoria University is looking to improve its sustainability and mitigate the effects of climate change. This project aims to develop a green living lab on a VU campus with green roofs, walls and faces. This will be used for research and teaching to improve understanding of the environmental value of green infrastructure.

SDGs: 3 Good Health & Well Being | 11 Sustainable Cities & Communities

Vertical garden

Decontaminating soil & water

Title: Investigation of methods to decontaminate soil and water containing PFAS and development of functionalised optical fibres for PFAS detection
Researchers: Fotios Sidiroglou, Shobha Muthukumaran, Jianhua Zhang, Marlene Cran
Partners: Australian Contaminated Land Consultants Association (ACLCA); Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), Victoria; South East Water (SEW); Environmental Group Limited (EGL)

This research will explore how to decontaminate soil and water containing PFAS – a group of man-made chemicals. PFAS is an organic pollutant and carcinogen that has been widely used in domestic and industrial settings. It can contaminate waterways, drinking water, soil and air. This project will develop novel, renewable alginate beads to absorb PFAS from water.

SDGs: 3 Good Health & Well Being | 6 Clean Water & Sanitation | 9 Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure | 11 Sustainable Cities & Communities

Measuring Biodiversity Change

Title: Using eDNA to measure biodiversity change
Researchers: Christine Connelly, Joshua Johnson, Thomas Yeager
Partners: Bass Coast Shire Council, Bass Coast Landcare Network

eDNA sampling and analysis is a non-invasive technique that detects species and measures biodiversity change by collecting genetic material (e.g. faeces, skin cells) from environmental samples such as soil and water. This project in the Bass Coast Region of Victoria, a unique and sensitive landscape, will enable eDNA research for surveying threatened species, detecting invasive species, and measuring environmental change in re-vegetation areas to determine whether biodiversity improvements are occurring.

SDGs: 11 Sustainable Cities & Communities | 15 Life on Land | 17 Partnerships for the Goals

soldiers in public

Security threats & planetary health

Title: Destroying the world to save it: Why security studies needs to engage with the planetary health agenda
Researchers: Debra Smith, Muhammad Iqbal, Andrew Zammit
Partners: Defence Science Technology (DST)

The areas of security science and planetary health are rarely collectively addressed. When there is crossover, security is usually considered paramount – climate change research is viewed as less-pressing than international conflict, for example. This project flips the framework by examining how security threats and measures can, even inadvertently, harm planetary health.

SDGs: 16 Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions

Community recovery after bushfires

Title: Understanding experiences and recovery capabilities of diverse communities in Gippsland post 2019/20 bushfires
Researchers: Celeste Young, Roger Jones
Partners: Health Issues Centre

Natural hazards are becoming increasingly dynamic and novel, challenging recovery and resilience. The aim of this research is to understand the recovery experience of communities in Gippsland (Southern Victoria) following the bushfires of late 2019. It identifies factors that contribute to increasing vulnerability, or building resilience, of different cohorts within these communities.
Report: Growing the Seeds provides a systemic assessment of the community, economic and risk landscapes in East Gippsland and Wellington Shires following the bushfires.

SDGs: 1 No Poverty | 3 Good Health & Well Being | 5 Gender Equality | 10 Reduced Inequalities | 11 Sustainable Cities & Communities | 13 Climate Change | 16 Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions | 17 Partnerships for the Goal

Celeste Young and Roger Jones

Plant-based food

Title: Saving the Planet with Plant-based Food: bridging a knowledge gap regarding functionality of plant proteins in dry state
Researchers: Todor Vasiljevic, Fotios Sidiroglou
Partners: Ward McKenzie Ltd Pty

Transforming modern diets to improve their healthiness and sustainability will require substantial shifts. Incorporating low-cost pulses such as peas can considerably improve quality of diets and planetary health. However, pulses lose their functionality during extraction and processing. This project aims to understand food properties of dry pea protein to improve processing and make them more viable as sustainable food products.

SDGs: 11 Sustainable Cities & Communities | 12 Responsible Consumption & Production | 13 Climate Action

Water health analysis

Title: Development and testing of a prototype integrated phytoplankton analyser for water health in the Werribee River
Researchers: Peter Sanciolo, Stephen Gray
Partners: Aquation Scientific Equipment, Kean Electronics

This project will develop an instrument for early detection of cyanobacteria, with real-time monitoring in drinking and environmental waters. The resulting early intervention will limit the formation of full bluegreen algae (BGA) and other cyanobacteria that are harmful to humans. 

SDGs: Clean Water & Sanitation

rooftop garden

The Green Living Lab

The Green Living Lab native rooftop garden and wetland at Footscray Park is now installed.

Created by Stuart Clegg of VU’s Video Hive team.