Our buildings are the largest source of UNSW’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. By adopting and adhering to a sustainable building operations and maintenance framework, we are conserving energy and water, reducing waste and water consumption, promoting indoor environmental quality, and providing healthy and productive places for work, learning and living. 

Building management and maintenance

Ecologically sustainable design is now built into new and existing buildings and campus infrastructure. An environmental design assessment tool was used on existing buildings and infrastructure to benchmark their current condition and assesses opportunities for improvement.

Indoor Air Quality and Comfort

We are working to protect the health of building occupants by improving ventilation and managing exposure to indoor pollutants in new buildings and as we renovate existing ones. Protecting indoor air quality creates a safe environment for all. We also have a Indoor Thermal Comfort Review Procedure that sets out practices for regular monitoring of indoor air quality and comfort. 


Our beautiful and welcoming campus grounds are planned, planted and maintained with the local environment and ecology in mind. We minimise the use of toxic chemicals, protecting wildlife habitat and conserving water and resources. The main Kensington campus is on a 38-hectare site and the University actively manages 65 hectares of land, including the College of Fine Arts, the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra, research field stations at Manly Vale, Fowlers Gap and Wellington, and a sporting facility at Tarban Creek. 

Green space

Our grounds maintenance contracts to ensure environmental responsible management of existing UNSW green space.

The campus vegetation assists the ecosystem and, in particular, improves the local microclimate, providing a habitat for protected species such as the grey headed flying fox, ethical control of feral animals, in particular cats and a range of native birds, and of course enhanced places and spaces for staff and students.

Garden waste

The majority of tree pruning off-cuts are processed on site into mulch and woodchips and used back on the garden beds across campus. We apply large quantities of mulch to the landscaped environment to reduce water evaporation resulting in less water being used. All other lawn clippings, leaf material and garden organics are collected and transported to Veolia waste station at Botany for processing into garden and landscaping products.

Native planting policy

While the Kensington campus has some mature non-native trees, new plantings favour native plants and grasses indigenous to the Randwick/Kensington area over non-native plant species. Our approach to planting is to promote biodiversity. Species are also selected to provide opportunities for students and external schools to use our grounds as a source of education.

Chemical and fertiliser use

We work to reduce the use of garden chemicals by applying organic fertilisers wherever possible and limiting future use of a range of pesticides through its grounds maintenance contract.

Green Trail

The campus Green Trail is signposted to increase awareness and knowledge of the campus ecosystem and highlight our world-class environmental teaching and research facilities. The Green Trail incorporates a bush tucker and biodiversity walk that highlights the beauty and ecological significance of the plants found in the Sydney basin. It passes 25 different native plants, which in many cases were used by Aboriginal Australians for food, medicine and tools. Check out the UNSW Green Trail app. 

Waste reduction and reuse

In a dynamic campus environment with new building developments there is always the opportunity to recycle components of the landscape. Whether it is old sandstone, paving bricks, outdoor furniture or plants, landscaping and grounds materials are stored whenever possible for later re-use.