Building a sustainable future: Sustainability week at RMIT

The RMIT community took action last week across its three Melbourne campuses in support of environmental sustainability.

Sustainability Week (March 25-29) is an annual event that brings the RMIT community together to raise awareness about social, environmental and economic issues.

Throughout the week a number of events highlighted sustainable initiatives and ideas through inspirational speakers, workshops, tours and cultural experiences.

Senior Manager of Sustainability Lin Stevenson said Sustainability Week was an opportunity for wider RMIT Community to get involved in RMIT’s sustainability journey.

“As a University we are proud of the progress we’ve made over the past few years towards becoming more sustainable.”

“Sustainability Week is a real highlight on our calendar and it allows us to showcase our wider mission to strive for sustainable outcomes and practices with the RMIT Community.”

Associate Professor Adrian Dyer speaking about urban biodiversity and the role of bees and pollination. Photo: Matt Houston

An information session was held at RMIT’s award-winning New Academic Street (NAS) to launch the 2019 Green Impact Engagement program. Green Impact is a program delivered by Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS) in Australia and New Zealand, and provides a framework to empower staff and students to work together and make positive social, environmental and economic changes at a local level.

A highlight of the week included a discussion on urban biodiversity and bees in urban areas hosted by Associate Professor Adrian Dyer and Ecologist Freya Thomas. Bees are responsible for pollinating approximately one third of the world’s food, and their protection is essential to protecting biodiversity and our health and well-being.

Two engaging workshops focused on climate change empowerment and building emotional resilience led by Lisa Shadforth from Sustainability Victoria and Associate Lecturer Blanche Verlie and Mr Jeremy Gay from RMIT Sustainable Futures.

Events at the Brunswick campus focused on sustainable fashion with a captivating talk by fashion designer Annette Young, who has combine her passion for fashion and sustainability through her work at Sustainability Victoria and her own label, Annette Young Design.

A workshop on the local, ethical sourcing of fabrics and dyes was delivered at the Brunswick Dye Garden by School of Fashion & Textiles Technical Officer Danielle Andree, Associate Lecturer Fashion Design Nyssa Marrow, and third-year Bachelor of Arts (Textile Design) student Kendelle Hobbs.

A key theme throughout the week focused on promoting reuse and waste avoidance: reusable bamboo straws were handed out at RUSU’s free lunches, the campus store promoted reusable merch in a window display, and participating retailers offered discounts to anyone who brought their own mug or container.

The dye garden workshop at the Brunswick campus discussed local, ethical sourcing of fashion and dyes. Photo: Matt Houston

Research for a greener planet

Several inspirational RMIT researchers from around the globe have also been working towards a sustainable future.

Science lecturer and researcher Dr Tien Huynh specialises in medicinal plants and waste reduction. Her achievements include establishing community transformative projects for endangered and medicinal plants, environmental sustainability and agricultural upcycling.

“Most environmental issues that we face aren’t easy to solve, there is no single solution. The challenge is also to convince people to rethink the way they see things,” Huynh said.

Other leading contributors include, Dr Ferne Edwards, based at RMIT Europe, who researches sustainable cities, food systems and social change, and Lauren Rickards, who is focussed on the social elements of environmental issues, through her work at the Centre for Urban Research in Melbourne.

Sustainable infrastructure

RMIT’s comprehensive emissions reduction program, the Sustainable Urban Precincts Program (SUPP), contributed to a 45% emissions reduction since 2007.

As part of the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project (MRAP), RMIT has invested $128M into energy efficiency, rolled out 600kW of solar PV on its rooftops and signed a power purchase agreement to source 25% of its electricity from a new windfarm in regional Victoria.

RMIT has committed to the goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.

 

Story: Jasmijn van Houten

02 April 2019

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02 April 2019

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  • fashion
  • Student experience
  • Environment
  • Society

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