Trinity College is committed to reducing its carbon footprint to create a sustainable environment for students and staff now and into the future.
At Trinity College, we recognise our responsibility to create a better world by minimising our environmental impact, and therefore have a dedicated sustainability program called Planitgreen. As part of this, we have a sustainability strategy in place, which identifies a series of actions and targets to help us reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and water usage, and improve our waste management practices, among other things. The three core themes of our sustainability strategy are:
- To take responsibility for a sustainable college
- To educate and inspire our community to lead
- To partner with others
Our sustainability strategy sets out a number of targets, which we’ve been building on since our initial strategy’s development in 2009.
In 2022, we plan to celebrate the achievement of the following milestones as part of Trinity College's 150-year anniversary:
- Carbon emissions reduced by 50%
- Water usage reduced by 15%
- Recycling rate increased to 65%
Trinity College has undertaken a number of initiatives to help us achieve these targets
Some of our major initiatives to date include:
- Installing a system of underground water tanks beneath the Bulpadock (our central lawn) with an 800 000-litre capacity. These tanks harvest rainwater off the major buildings at our Parkville campus and the water is used to irrigate the gardens and grounds, and in some cases, is used to flush toilets.
- Incorporating a range of ESD (environmentally sustainable design) features into our new buildings and during the renovation of existing buildings. The new Residential College building being constructed in the north-east precinct of our main campus (due to open at the start of the 2020 academic year) will have a geothermal system installed, plus an array of photovoltaic cells on the roof.
- Purchasing 100% recycled academic gowns from carbon-neutral company Churchill Gowns (each gown is made from 28 PET bottles)
- Resurfacing the Bulpadock lawn, the new Theological School lawn, and the Vatican and Summer House lawns with drought-tolerant grass.
- Introducing a GAIA food waste processing system to manage all food waste from the kitchen. The machine, powered by natural gas, rapidly produces compost from our waste (as well as that from a neighbouring college), which we then use on the gardens, and reduces the amount of waste we send to landfill.
- Introducing Green Practice rebates, which are a contribution towards travel costs for staff who travel to work by public transport, cycling or walking.
- Introducing Green Practice grants for sustainability projects relevant to Trinity College’s sustainability agenda.
- Ordering kitchen supplies in bulk to reduce our supply of cardboard (which we then recycle).
- Replacing individual seasoning sachets from our kitchen with salt and pepper shakers.
- Using biodegradable café take-away cups, plates and cutlery, and encouraging the use of keep cups to reduce waste even further.
- Introducing a PaperCut system, which reports on print volumes and paper usage, plus associated greenhouse gas emissions, so we can make more conscious decisions about how much we print as an organisation.
- Providing facilities to recycle batteries, toner cartridges and unused or end-of-life IT equipment.
- Providing clothes racks and paper recycling facilities in student rooms.
We independently audit our carbon footprint
Each year we conduct an annual independent analysis of Trinity’s environmental impact to get a clear and unbiased picture of our sustainability strategy’s effectiveness. Our 2017 carbon audit, prepared by Pangolin Associates, showed that while absolute gross emissions have increased at Trinity since we launched our strategy in 2009, emissions per square metre, per student and per staff headcount have reduced. There’s still plenty of work to do however, so we are now working to further reduce our environmental footprint to make sure we’re on track to meet our ambitious 2022 targets.
A project titled Roadmap to 2022 has been initiated to determine what the College needs to do to achieve these targets and to assess the feasibility of our timeframes. A summary report of the roadmap will be made available in the first half of 2019, along with the 2018 carbon audit report.
We promote behavioural change
At Trinity College, we strongly believe that behaviour change is crucial to creating a more sustainable future. Therefore, we encourage students to get behind our sustainability initiatives, and residential students can elect to purchase carbon offsets to help reduce their environmental impact and emissions while living at Trinity College. Our offset program supports various causes and is currently directed at helping preserve forests in Tasmania.
We also encourage our staff to engage in sustainable practices. For instance, staff who park on campus are required to pay a fee to fund our Green Practice rebates and grants. The rebates are made available to staff who don’t drive to work and are used reimburse public transport costs, and can be put towards bicycles, bike repair kits and walking shoes for example. Our Green Practice grants then help fund initiatives proposed by staff and students that align to Trinity’s sustainability goals.
Our students are actively engaged in sustainability initiatives
In 2012, we introduced sustainability intern positions at Trinity College. These interns are residential students who act as environmental champions and lead the College's sustainability programs on campus. They help develop student awareness, run educational initiatives and assist in policy development related to environmental matters.
We also have a student environment committee, and members help our interns share information about Trinity’s sustainability initiatives and encourage students to make more environmentally conscious choices during their time at Trinity and beyond, for instance by reducing water consumption in showers and laundries. Many students also participate in annual events such as Clean Up Australia Day, which is run as a collaboration between our Residential College and Foundation Studies students, and tree planting days in surrounding parks.
A number of students have developed their own initiatives too, such as Evan Sinclair, who co-founded Ecco Cuppa – a social enterprise built around the sale of reusable coffee cups, where 100% of the profits are used to plant trees in Brazil and Bolivia. Trinity College also proudly supports Who Gives a Crap, a company founded by a Trinity alumnus that develops forest-friendly toilet paper, paper towels and tissues and donates 50% of profits to help build toilets for those in need.
What our sustainability interns have to say
I am incredibly grateful to have been given the opportunity as a sustainability intern to promote and instigate sustainable practices within the Trinity College community. I’ve been able to work directly with students as well as behind the scenes to ensure that we use our resources in a way that minimises any detrimental impact on the environment. I commend the community’s commitment to sustainability and am excited for the projects in store at Trinity. Bethanie Chong
The sustainability internship has been a fantastic opportunity. Together with the committee, I have been proud to lead a number of initiatives in 2018 to promote sustainable thinking and to have a direct positive impact on the environment and the sustainability of Trinity College. Tom Grills
We partner with others to create a more sustainable future
Trinity College also gets behind plenty of sustainability events and participates in Earth Hour, among other things. Students from the Residential College also team up with our Foundation Studies students and students from neighbouring 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, and the Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS).
If you’d like to support Trinity College’s sustainability efforts through project Planitgreen, please consider making a donation.