HKUST 2020 Sustainability Challenge

The University is seeking to integrate sustainability into all its activities and serve as a living laboratory for eco-advancement and awareness.

In 2016, the University adopted the sustainability mission “to become a global leader in sustainability education by transforming the Clear Water Bay campus into a living laboratory for experiential learning, demonstrating cutting-edge research and sustainable operations within a vibrant and engaged community” and set out the HKUST 2020 Sustainability Challenge strategy to achieve specific goals, targets, and priorities. In 2016-17, there was good progress on the four pillars of the strategy: sustainable operations; sustainable communities; sustainability research and demonstration; and sustainability education.

Sustainable Operations

The Sustainable Operations Executive Committee, led by the Vice-President for Administration and Business, oversaw a significant spike in activities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and landfill waste. Both areas were identified as top priorities in the 2020 Challenge. Over the past year, the University made several important investments in waste reduction strategies, including food waste collections from canteens and office pantries, installing recycling bins on all floors of residence halls, modifying cleaning contracts to gain accurate daily weight data, and conducting waste audits to provide a clearer picture of sources and causes of waste. These efforts resulted in an overall reduction of landfill waste of over 8% and helped identify several new and promising areas for further reductions in the coming year. The University saw its annual greenhouse gas emissions shrink by 2% due to aggressive energy efficiency upgrades, such as the installation of LED lighting and more efficient air-conditioning systems. The year also included University-wide endeavors to engage the broader community in these efforts through energy reduction competitions for students and other green behavior campaigns.

The building of sustainable operations within the University took place across many departments and groups. For example, the Cleaning Steering Committee identified waste reduction opportunities at major events and formulates recycling strategies for resources. The Green Lab Working Group monitored energy performance in labs through real-time metering and designs energy reduction initiatives for lab equipment and recycling programs. The Energy Performance Review team regularly studied energy consumption data and built up energy-saving capacity through operations and newly invested projects. Such groups and their members’ commitment were essential factors in on-going progress toward reduction targets.