Buildings and planning

Conserving resources and reducing waste

Our buildings and grounds are among the most distinctive and memorable features of UQ.

From our beautiful heritage-listed assets – such as the iconic Great Court at St Lucia, the Gatton campus and the Mayne Medical Building at Herston – through to our flagship ‘living building’, the Global Change Institute, we take pride in creating and caring for great spaces.

In total, we have more than 600 buildings across Queensland and we strive to embed sustainability principles throughout our built environment. 

We see the design, operation and maintenance of our buildings as a significant opportunity to conserve energy and water, and reduce waste. 

That’s why Building is one of the focus topics in the UQ Sustainability Strategy.

Careful campus planning

To achieve our objectives, we undertake careful campus planning that covers a range of sustainability (and many other) considerations.

Our planning aims to:

  • Enhance desirable campus elements
  • Embed sustainability principles (including around water, energy and waste)
  • Implement heritage protection and preservation
  • Minimise any undesirable effects of individual developments.

Planning processes differ across our campuses and locations, and can also vary depending on the types of areas or specific buildings involved. We have a St Lucia Campus Master Plan, which guides much of our development for that campus. We are in the process of finalising site development plans for each of our other main campus locations.

Another key goal for us is to integrate landscape to complement both built and natural environments, showcasing unique features at each of our campuses. 

Our landscape planning and design therefore overlaps with several of our grounds and biodiversity priorities including maintenance of green space, preservation of vegetation and feature shade trees,  mulching of garden beds to reduce use of sprays and minimise reliance on irrigation, and the use of native drought-tolerant species. 

Sustainable building outcomes

We have also developed the UQ Design Standards to drive high quality building outcomes.

The Design Standards are a comprehensive set of documents covering all aspects of building works including operational, safety, environmental, heritage, architectural, landscaping and other considerations. The master document is supported by our Architectural Design Standard and Environmental Design Standard, which outline in more detail key sustainability metrics and deliverables. 

For example, energy efficiency is a major focus for UQ and the standards include both passive and active design strategies. Wherever possible, we recommend passive strategies in the first instance, including the use of airtight façades, building orientation, energy efficient glazing and external shade devices to reduce internal building heat loads.

On the active side, we implement strategies using technology such as Building Management Systems to monitor and control our spaces, and to provide more efficient use of air conditioning and lighting. 

In some locations, we have also built dedicated solar plants to provide power to particular systems, such as chilled water air conditioning systems. We also have a range of rooftop solar facilities, among our many other energy initiatives.

Building refurbishment also presents a myriad of opportunities to embed sustainability principles. Wherever relevant, we explore extending the life of our existing buildings (and maintaining the embodied energy within them), rather than demolishing and starting again. Our Design Standard proposes a range of suggestions for how adaptive reuse can be adopted and implemented.

Finally, the construction process itself is another major avenue to drive more sustainable outcomes. For example, throughout the design and construction process, we are increasingly focused on reusing and recycling construction materials and segregating waste into various streams to avoid contamination and maximise recycling opportunities. 
We also monitor the procurement process to help develop strategies to minimise transport costs and reduce unnecessary waste and materials.

Please note: all contractors, consultants and third-party suppliers should refer to our list of relevant standards, policies and plans on the Chief Operating Officer’s website

More about sustainable buildings