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Otago’s sustainability efforts recognised at Australasian awards

Friday 19 November 2021 12:19pm

Sustainability Neighbourhood vegetable garden image
The Sustainability Neighbourhood backyard vegetable garden.

The University of Otago has secured three awards at Australasia’s premier sustainability awards for the tertiary education sector.

He Kāika Toitu, he Kāika ora: The Sustainability Neighbourhood – a group of student flats with 20 bed spaces – was announced as the winner in the Green Gown Awards’ category of Building Back Better yesterday evening.

The initiative, which is a collaboration between UniFlats and the Sustainability Office, supports students to live sustainably and contribute to research projects that inform the wider student community and landlords.

This year, the University’s sustainability initiatives were finalists in seven award categories and the University was one of only two New Zealand tertiary institutions to make the Green Gown Awards’ finals.

Jesikah Triscott image
Jesikah Triscott.

The Sustainability Office’s Engagement Team Leader Jesikah Triscott, received a highly commended for the Award of Excellence – Staff. While student Charlotte Brewer, currently undertaking a Master's in Sustainable Business, received a highly commended for the Award of Excellence – Student.

The University of Otago’s Head of Sustainability Ray O’Brien says he is proud of the awards which are recognition of the significant efforts the University is undertaking in its drive to be sustainable.

“The Green Grown Awards provide the sector with benchmarks for excellence across a diverse range of categories that recognise the impact of individuals, organisations and great ideas.

“Even with high quality applications from universities, technical and further education (TAFE) colleges and Polytechnics across the region, of the ten categories of award, the University of Otago was selected as a finalist in seven.”

Charlotte Brewer image
Charlotte Brewer.

Mr O’Brien says this demonstrates the range of activity that many teams across the University are undertaking.

“It goes well beyond any one initiative or one team – It’s part of what we do here.”

The Sustainability Neighbourhood came about as the reduction of international students using University flat accommodation created an opportunity to build a new model of student accommodation.

Many students were clear that they wanted the opportunity to live more sustainably but were blocked due to a lack of support from landlords and their peers, he says.

“The University has a strategic goal to nurture a culture of sustainability.

“UniFlats and the Sustainability Office collaborated to develop a group of flats with 20 bed spaces, which was then established as a ‘Living Lab’.”

The initiative is expected to influence both student and landlord behaviour making sustainable living more available to students and reducing the environmental footprint of the University community.

“This is expected to have a positive environmental and educational impact, but also a model of a more resilient and supportive neighbourhood in light of the challenges faced during a pandemic,” Mr O’Brien says.

There are limited places available for students interested in participating in The Sustainability Neighbourhood for 2022.

For further information, contact:

Ray O’Brien
Head of Sustainability, Sustainability Office
University of Otago, Dunedin
Email ray.obrien@otago.ac.nz

Molly Houseman
Communications Adviser, Media Engagement
University of Otago, Dunedin
Mob +64 21 279 5016
Email molly.houseman@otago.ac.nz