Why is Climate Action important for your organisation and for Singapore, and how did your organization first get started on the Climate Action/sustainability journey?

The National University of Singapore (NUS) is committed to protecting the environment and seeks to incorporate sustainability in all aspects of campus life – from research, education, operations, planning, construction, and instruction to public service.

As Singapore’s largest university, the University recognises that it has a responsibility to contribute towards national and global efforts in the fight against climate change. This is why sustainability guides NUS’ operational efforts from master planning and design, to construction and maintenance. Likewise, this approach is applied to building retrofitting and operations, as well as protecting and enhancing biodiversity.

In addition to catering for a large community of over 50,000 students and staff, fulfilling NUS academic and research mission requires adequate infrastructure and operational support. This relies significantly on natural resources, particularly energy and water. To minimise the University’s environmental impact arising from resource use and transport, we continually look at ways to reduce consumption and improve resource efficiency in five key areas: carbon emissions and energy management, water management, waste minimisation and recycling, built environment, and green spaces (in buildings).

What are your plans/Climate Action goals for your organisation in 2018?

NUS is committed to taking climate action, and in line with the Year of Climate Action, has pledged to organise more awareness and outreach activities to encourage students staying in the 15 residences on campus to:

  1. Beat the heat with fans instead of air conditioning
  2. Switch off appliances and power sockets when not in use
  3. Take shorter showers
  4. Run washing machines only on a full load
  5. Minimise food wastage by ordering only what they can finish
  6. Set up the appropriate infrastructure for food waste recycling
  7. Pass down unwanted items for incoming residents to use the following semester

Aligned with our 2020 sustainability targets, NUS will involve the 11,000 students staying in 15 residences on campus to work towards the following goals in 2018:

  • 10% reduction in energy consumption
  • 10% reduction in water consumption
  • 100% of student residences to have annual “move-out” drives, where items donated by outgoing residents are distributed to incoming residents
  • 100% of its student residences to have food waste recycling initiatives 

In support of the Year of Climate Action, the NUS community also organised the “NUS Climate Action Month” in March 2018 – a series of activities to raise awareness about climate change to staff and students.

Earth Hour “Superhero” Contest

In March, we kicked off the launch of the Earth Hour “Superhero” Contest organised by the Office of Housing Services (OHS), where students and staff living in campus housing were challenged to come up with ideas on how to make their campus residences more sustainable.

The winning team, WeEat, came up with a digital food sharing platform to distribute food at Prince George’s Park (PGP) Residences. The team observed that the food in PGP fridges and food shelves end up being thrown away at the end of each semester (after residents move out), and proposed using an online plaform to facilitate barter trade, were food items can be shared with other residents. The winning team walked away with $300 worth of cash vouchers.

On 24 March, all lighting at the common areas and dining halls were switched off during Earth Hour. In line with Singapore’s Year of Climate Action, residents were also encouraged to make a pledge to take climate action and to reduce their carbon footprint at their campus accommodation.

Film Screening of a “A Plastic Ocean” + Panel Discussion 

On 20 March, the Office of Environmental Sustainability, OHS, and NUS SAVE (Students Against Violation of the Earth) co-organised a screening of the documentary “A Plastic Ocean”. Prior to the screening, panellists from the National Parks Board, Wildlife Reserves Singapore and the Environmental Law Students Association at NUS Law discussed their thoughts on marine plastic waste in Singapore, and why plastic waste is a problem in Singapore’s waters. Some of the latest efforts to reduce plastic waste in Singapore, ranging from plastic consumption via sustainable business operations to drafting legislation for marine plastic pollution, were shared with the audience prior to the screening of the film.

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Singapore World Water Day @ NUS

The start of a two-day exhibition at NUS University Town on 22 March provided the NUS community with a holistic overview of water conservation in the University, in areas such as operations, planning and research.  This was just one of the many activities that the University featured as part of the Singapore World Water Day @ NUS, held in conjunction with PUB’s Singapore World Water Day.

The event was graced by Guest-of-Honour Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources. During his visit, Mr Masagos was treated to a tour of Ridge View Residential College (RVRC), where he enjoyed a close look at the various water conservation features the residence boasts — including their bioswale, retention pond as well as various student-led water saving initiatives, such as a rainwater harvesting tank in their community garden. He also had a chance to observe the students participating in water distribution for the RVRC full day water rationing exercise.  

Singapore World Water Day

Symposium on Futures Sustainability 2018

On 24 March 2018, the Bachelor of Environmental Studies (BES) hosted the annual Symposium on Futures Sustainability at University Town, in partnership with Rotary Club of Suntec City. The Symposium was conceived with the objective of connecting with the wider environmental community and to convey environmental knowledge to the public in an accessible way.

Themed around Sustainable Blue Spaces, this year’s dialogue brought together speakers from National Parks Board, Nature Society (Singapore), Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and WateROAM Singapore to discuss the complexities behind preserving blue spaces in Singapore and beyond so as to meet society’s increasing demand for water.

Symposium on Futures Sustainability

In conjunction with 2018 being the International Year of the Reef, the Symposium also showcased the work of active blue groups outside NUS like Our Singapore Reefs, Intertidal Watch and Waterways Watch Society, as they highlighted volunteering opportunities within Singapore’s coastal and inland waters. Through roundtable sessions, student facilitators from the BES programme and NUS Environmental Law Students Association shared their research on the importance of marine biodiversity as well as legal issues pertaining to land use and reclamation in coastal waters.

Check out NUS’s Climate Action Pledge here!

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