Environmental Management System

Our Environmental Management System is essential to actively manage potential and actual environmental risks and areas of opportunity.

Our Strategic Plan

Environmental Sustainability is key to UNSW 2025 Strategic Plan , supports all our strategic goals and ensures we integrate environmental consideration into everything we do.

Our Environment Policy

Our decisions and actions shape our environmental future. The UNSW Environment Policy sets out the principles and standards that guides the University with respect to the environment. It gives authority to nominated positions to establish various university procedures and guidelines.

Environmental impacts

An environmental aspect is an activity or action that results in a potential environmental impact. The environmental impacts of an operation are minimised by proper management of the environmental aspects. Environmental aspects and impacts are identified, reviewed and assessment periodically and in response to operational changes in accordance with the UNSW Environmental Management System Procedure and UNSW Environmental Aspects and Impacts Procedure. The Environmental Aspects and Impacts Register lists potential environmental aspects, likely impacts, and measures to control the impacts. All staff and students are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the environmental aspects and related impacts associated with the University operations and to advise UNSW Sustainability of any changes to our operations that might result in changes to, or new environmental aspects or impacts.

Legal and other requirements

As a minimum, UNSW is committed to statutory and regulatory compliance for all our operations. Before starting any activity on campus grounds or in buildings or any location where the University has operational control, it is important to understand your legal responsibilities under environmental law. These will depend on the nature of the activity and degree of environmental risk. The UNSW Environmental Regulation Register Procedure identifies our key legislative and regulatory compliance obligations and assigns operational responsibilities for these obligations. The UNSW Environmental Regulation Register Procedure provides details of specific clauses or instruments that impose obligations on UNSW, details of compliance obligations, who is directly responsible for the compliance, how we comply with the obligations and the implications of non-compliance. UNSW Sustainability maintains the UNSW Environmental Regulation Register Procedure and it is regularly revised and updated with advice from an accredited Environmental Law Specialist.

Objectives targets and programs

The international Environmental Management Systems Standard, ISO14001, defines an environmental objective as an overall environmental goal, consistent with the environmental policy that an organisation sets itself to achieve’. UNSW Australia has established environmental objectives and associated targets that are a statement of both our minimum expected level of environmental performance and our desire for continuous improvement. They are consistent with the Environmental Policy and are based on an understanding of both the aspects and impacts of our operations and applicable statutory obligations. Objectives are described in terms of outcomes and each objective is qualified by the establishment of performance indicators and corresponding targets. Indictors are chosen that can be measured practically and periodically. The current environmental objectives, targets and associated programs are listed in the Environmental Management Plan and the objectives, targets and actions document.

Competence, training and awareness

The Environment Policy and Environmental Management Plan specifically addresses environmental training and awareness. The University has a risk-based approach to deliver training that prioritises the online Green Lab environmental law compliance training targeted at higher risk laboratory operations. In addition, there are a number of training and awareness programs (New staff induction, Environmental Awareness training) in place to ensure that staff and students are aware of following;

  • the Environmental Policy and University’s commitment to environmental sustainability
  • environmental aspects and impacts which may be caused by their activities, and the benefits of improved performance.
  • how to improve environmental performance
  • their environmental compliance related roles and responsibilities
  • potential consequences of non-conformances.


UNSW undertakes a variety of internal and external communications using different forums and media. This includes:

  • UNSW Sustainability newsletter
  • UNSW Sustainability website [www.sustainability.unsw.edu.au - the website you're reading now]
  • training and awareness programs
  • awareness campaigns including stalls and information booths at O-Week and others
  • Health Safety and Environment Strategic Planning Committee level 1 to 3 meetings
  • Social media including Facebook: www.facebook.com/SustainUNSW and Twitter: @SustainUNSW.

Control of documents

The creation, revision and distribution of key Environmental Management System documents are controlled electronically to ensure that only current versions are in use throughout the organisation. Printed versions of Environmental Management System documents are not considered controlled documents. Document control is managed by the UNSW's document control procedures administered by UNSW Records and Archives. For more information click here. 

Operational Controls

Our university operations are diverse and can impact the environment in different ways. Some activities can have potentially adverse impacts that can be reduced, or avoided completely, through careful planning. To effectively manage and minimise these potential impacts we have a comprehensive Environmental Aspects and Impacts Register. Environmental impacts of our operations are managed for:

  1. New activities: by integrated planning of those activities and designing/purchasing appropriated equipment.
  2. Existing activities: by the implementation of documented procedures in this EMS and through continually striving to do better.
  3. For both of the above categories: by raising the awareness of all staff and students in these matters and taking advantage of new opportunities or technologies as they arise. The current environmental improvement initiatives underway and approaches to manage the identified aspects and impacts are listed in the Environmental Management Plan.

Emergency preparedness and response

All UNSW Australia staff and students have a responsibility to respond to an emergency. All UNSW campuses and external properties have an Emergency Response Plan and associated procedure and guidelines for responding to various types of emergencies. In addition to this, all UNSW campuses have emergency management teams. Internal links to all respective Emergency Response Management teams are provided below .

Monitoring and measurement

Monitoring and measurement is undertaken against the environmental objectives, targets and actions contained within UNSW Environmental Management System and Environmental Management Plan. The monitoring schedule is detailed in the Environmental Monitoring Program. 

Evaluation of compliance

UNSW is committed to compliance with all relevant legal and other requirements. Compliance is evaluated through a combination of ongoing monitoring and by both internal and external audits and checks. Evaluation of compliance includes processes, schedule, reporting requirements and record keeping for undertaking the system surveillance. 

Internal audit

Internal audits of UNSW's Environmental Management System is undertaken annually to ensure the system is being properly implemented and maintained at all levels. The most recent audit was undertaken by Deloitte Touche Tomatsu in 2014.


In the context of an ever-changing environment, our Environmental Management System will be reviewed every two years (prior to July 2016), in consultation with staff and students, to ensure it remains relevant and reflects the aspirations of the University’s stakeholders.