Join an Australasian sustainability network

28 July 2022

UQ is a member of ACTS, the Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability organisation. Through this network, all UQ staff and students can register for free to access diverse sustainability resources; connect with higher education peers throughout Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and beyond; and share sustainability ideas across institutions.

Once you’ve registered, you’ll qualify for these great benefits:

  • ACTS email newsletters – get the latest sustainability news in the higher education sector
  • ACTS sustainability resources and tools
  • Join free roundtables, working groups, webinars and other online events, talking about a range of sustainability topics. Upcoming topics this year may include net zero strategies, student engagement, circular economy and biodiversity on campus
  • Enter your projects or individual sustainability leaders in the Australasian Green Gown Awards (liaise with UQ Sustainability to coordinate UQ-wide applications)
  • Participate in the ACTS annual survey that guides topic and event choices for the forthcoming year, ensuring information and education provided is truly member-driven.

International, national and local connections

ACTS is also connected with a global network of partner organisations in the United Kingdom, Europe and North America. This network facilitates additional opportunities for international collaboration via key vehicles such as the Green Gown Awards and the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Ratings System (STARS).

ACTS General Manager, Rhiannon Boyd, says an ACTS membership enables a university to promote and bring to life its sustainability commitment.

“Around 90% of Australian and New Zealand universities are part of our network,” she says.

“It’s a great way for an institution to say ‘we’re committed to improving sustainability outcomes, not just in our own backyard, but across the region’.

“Our extensive member base also means we are in an ideal position to corroborate and create unique, industry-specific sustainability information and education. Through a wide range of ACTS events and partnerships, we gain insights into diverse sustainability approaches and innovations.

“These vary from major infrastructure or energy projects, for example, through to grassroots actions at any level of an organisation, whether it’s signs in bathrooms to cut water consumption or reductions on printing and paper in the office.

“A key goal for us is to disseminate learnings back to our community, and to help our members share their experiences for the benefit of all.”

View all ACTS member benefits.

Sustainability support for everyone

ACTS provides resources and events that are relevant for individuals working across all areas of a university, including in administrative, operational, professional and academic roles. 

Students can also take advantage of the opportunity to enhance their sustainability knowledge and awareness. By registering with ACTS, they can gain insight into how sustainability is implemented in the workplace, as well as potentially participating in webinars or forums and gaining invaluable employability skills.

If you’re wondering what this might look like in practice, UQ Sustainability’s Principal Sustainability Officer, and ACTS board member, Suzanne Davis, says she has tapped into the organisation’s resources and been part of its collaborative networks many times throughout her career.

Student groups can also access sustainability support and networking through the ACTS network

“ACTS is absolutely one of the best avenues we have to share ideas with our colleagues at other universities around Australia and around the world,” she says.

“Over the years, I’ve been in working groups with peers across our regional university group that have shared expertise on many projects including recycling programs, water efficiency, renewable energy initiatives, student programs, sustainability leadership and performance improvement. We’re aiming to create new standards and improve sustainability outcomes across the region.

“And it’s not just for people who work in the ‘Sustainability’ team. We know there are passionate, motivated people taking action towards greener outcomes throughout the University. 

“In addition to the wide range of resources and support that UQ Sustainability provides for many office, lab, waste and recycling, and other initiatives across our campuses, ACTS allows interested individuals to learn about the latest sector-wide news, achievements and programs underway. 

“You just never know when an idea from someone else, somewhere else, trying to achieve a similar goal to you, is going to be the spark you need to get your own project up and running.”

Rhiannon agrees, saying ACTS is often able to play a role in connecting sustainability advocates from different teams at large universities, as well as between universities. 

“People are often pleasantly surprised by just how extensive their network of like-minded peers can be within their own workplace. It’s led to some new and interesting ideas being trialled cross-functionally at some of our member institutions.”

Sustainability ratings 

UQ also participates in the international Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Ratings System (STARS). UQ achieved a Silver STARS rating in its first year of tracking in 2021 and has prepared its 2022 submission aiming for a new rating later this year.

STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for tertiary institutions to measure and benchmark their sustainability performance. Supported in Australasia by ACTS, the system was created by the organisation’s partner network in the United States, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
Universities from around the world have now adopted the framework and consistently report their findings, creating an invaluable database of sector sustainability performance.

UQ has been shown to be in the top contingent globally on certain sustainability metrics, particularly for Wellbeing, and the University will report shortly on its latest STARS results. Visit the STARS website for more information about the system.

Sustainability awards

The Green Gown Awards are also run by ACTS in Australasia, operating in another partner model with their UK sibling organisation, the Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education.

UQ has been a winner and a finalist in the Australasian Green Gown Awards a number of times. The awards have multiple categories including climate action, circular economy, next generation learning and skills, and creating impact, among others, speaking to the wide-ranging scope of what ACTS defines as ‘sustainability’.

The UQ Repair Cafe is one of two intiatives entered into the 2022 Green Gown Awards.

“We very much use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) as our underlying framework for sustainability action,” Rhiannon says.

UQ applies a similar approach, with the UN SDGs forming the basis of the UQ Sustainability Strategy, released earlier this year.

Winners from the regional Green Gown Awards go on to compete in the international program, which includes competitors from the UK and French-speaking nations.

Finalists for the 2022 Australasian Green Gown Awards will be announced shortly. Visit the Green Gown Awards Australasia website for more information about the local program.

Sign up today

UQ is an ACTS member, which means registering to join the network is free and easy for our staff and students. Sign up to ACTS using your UQ email address today.