Trinity's vision to be a sustainable college in the 21st century focuses on the convergence of students, staff and members of the community working together to make sustainability a way of life.
In 2010, the College launched planitgreen, to represent Trinity's sustainability projects, initiatives and practices. The aims of planitgreen are to take responsibility for a sustainable College, to educate and inspire our community, and to partner with others.
Trinity began by auditing its use of energy, water and carbon emissions to establish goals for carbon reduction. An external consulting firm undertook two environmental assessments – measurement of the College's carbon footprint and an energy audit – which provided a stocktake of our starting position and helped us identify opportunities to set carbon emission and energy usage reduction targets.
We've introduced a Bokashi recycling system; an organic process that ferments food waste inside a sealed container to produce a fertiliser that is used on the College gardens. Water tanks are installed under the Bulpadock, which harvest 800,000 litres of rainwater and single flush toilets were eliminated across the College.
Other features that improve our sustainable practices:
check-flow meters track our electricity consumption
clothes horses provided to all residential students
community gardens for Foundation Studies and the Residential College
energy efficient lighting and appliances
double glazing of student rooms
hydronic heating in Jeopardy
co-mingle waste system in student corridors and across the grounds.
Resident students can purchase carbon offsets to help reduce their environmental impact, and help them think about their carbon footprint while being at College. Approximately 10% of the residential student population purchase carbon offsets. This year, the offsets purchased (resulting in 260 tonnes) were put towards the Indian Carbon Biomass Offset project.
Staff parking on campus is subject to a parking fee. These fees are then used to fund Green Grants and for staff to apply to reimbursements to cover transport costs, bikes etc.
In 2012, we welcomed our first student interns in sustainability, to champion and lead the College's programs to establish and maintain an environmentally sustainable campus, and contribute to educational initiatives, research activities and the shaping of policy.
Education initiatives include the introduction of an environmental activism tutorial in the Residential College, an increased focus on sustainability as part of orientation programs and literature delivered across the College.
One of our major goals is to improve both the profile of sustainability around College, and the environmental awareness among Trinity staff and students. Through practical, educational initiatives that foster and encourage action on climate change, we hope to make sustainable living a part of everyday College life, and something to which all students aim.
Sam Hartley, Student Intern in Sustainability
When I was 15, the valley where I lived was threatened by a proposed coal mine – my eyes were opened to the extraordinary rate that society abuses our environment. My role at Trinity gives me the opportunity to mobilise and enthuse the student body to become interested in sustainability initiatives. This year we've worked with sustainability representatives at other colleges, increased our use of social media, and worked with College clubs and societies to reduce their environmental impact. We are working towards implementing a Bokashi waste system in the kitchen, a photovoltaic feasibility study and a herb garden.
Hanna McCreath, Student Intern in Sustainability
As a large college on a large university campus, Trinity is confident it can achieve its sustainability goals, but by joining in and nurturing the efforts of like-minded people and organisations, we can magnify this impact. Our greatest contribution to sustainability is not just in our own efforts, but the efforts we inspire in others.
The College participates in the Sustainability Festival, Earth Hour, and hosts a carbon tax forum. Students from the Residential College also team up with Foundation Studies students and students from Ormond College to participate in Clean Up Australia day.
Trinity works with a range of educational and community organisations, such as the University of Melbourne, the Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS), the Victorian Association for Environmental Education (VAEE), the Sustainable Living Festival, and our large Trinity alumni network which involves environmental debate leaders such as Ross Garnaut.
In 2009 following the audit, we set oursevles some goals:
reduce carbon emission levels by 50% by 2022
continue to reduce water usage (26% reduction between 2006-09) to 120 litres per person per day on Trinity’s Parkville campus (reduction of 11.5%)
reduce water usage by 15% by 2014
increase the recycling rate to 65% by 2014
create a sustainable purchasing policy and incorporate this into the College’s purchase practices.
At the end of 2012, we produced a report to gain a thorough understanding of where we sat against our 2009 targets. While some of the findings reflected significant and positive change, others provide encouragement to work a little harder so that we can reach the ambitious targets we set.
Some achievements to date:
- carbon emissions reduced by 10% (a reduction of 464.24 tCO2e)
- electricity consumption reduced by 18%
- gas consumption reduced by 14%
- water consumption reduced to 122.23L per person per day (Victorian State Government target = 155L per person per day).
While much has been achieved, we must continue to put in place infrastructure changes and encourage a culture of sustainable practices within the Trinity community in order to become the sustainable College we aim to be.
Theme 1 working group
A theme 1 working group has recently been convened to assess the progress the College has made after three years against the targets and milestones set as a part of the Sustainability Plan – Taking Responsibility for a Sustainable College (October 2010), and to set a course to achieve the targets by 2022. The group consists of a number of students and staff, together with representatives from Spotless/Alliance Catering. The working group will report its findings and recommendations to the Sustainability Steering Committee later this year.
The working group has been broken into a number of focus groups. Each group has been set the task to review the progress achieved in the three years since the plan launch; to endorse, after evaluating the progress and remaining initiatives and the target through to 2022, the existing 2010 Plan goals or, if they determine that these are unachievable or can be exceeded, propose revised targets. In addition and under each scenario, the groups will identify additional initiatives and quantify the benefits and costs of each initiative for consideration by the Sustainability Steering Committee, the senior management of the College and ultimately the Board.
The sub-groups will also create a management plan to implement the changes as well as manage the collection of relevant data so that the College can continue to track performance against targets; and a communications plan to keep the College community informed of progress as we head towards 2022, the College’s 150 year anniversary.
I became involved with the theme one committee because I have a genuine passion and career interest in the field of sustainability. Trinity has a long-term plan for achieving a more sustainable College, which provides a solid platform for students to get involved in to meet those goals. The staff welcome our ideas and I believe this opportunity will not only help to benefit my learnings, but the lives of my peers and the place I currently call home. Liam Nuttall (1st year Environments)
Read more about the College's Sustainability Plan
Trinity College Environmental Assessment Audit Report