Achieving sustainability and carbon neutrality in higher education institutions: a review

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Sen, Guarangi, Chau, Hing-Wah ORCID: 0000-0002-3501-9882, Tariq, Muhammad Atiq Ur Rehman ORCID: 0000-0002-0226-7310, Muttil, Nitin ORCID: 0000-0001-7758-8365 and Ng, A. W. M ORCID: 0000-0002-7698-9068 (2021) Achieving sustainability and carbon neutrality in higher education institutions: a review. Sustainability (Switzerland), 14 (1). ISSN 2071-1050


Universities and higher education institutions play an important role in achieving a sustainable future through their teaching and by undertaking cutting edge research to combat climate change. There have been several efforts towards a sustainable future and achieving carbon neutrality at higher education institutions in Australia and around the world. This study has reviewed the sustainability strategies of numerous universities in Australia and has identified as study cases six universities that are committed to and leading the implementation of initiatives to achieve carbon neutrality. The initiatives implemented at the selected universities were classified into eight “sustainability categories”, namely, built environment, energy, food and gardens, GHG emissions, natural environment, resource and waste management, transport, and water. Among the selected leading universities in sustainability, Charles Sturt University and the University of Tasmania (UTAS) are the only universities in Australia certified as carbon neutral. An interesting aspect of this review is the way in which universities are implementing sustainability initiatives in line with their mission and strategies. Despite striving towards the same end goal of achieving carbon neutrality, different institutions offer individually unique approaches towards sustainability. For example, UTAS values the creation, expansion and dissemination of knowledge and the promotion of continual learning, which is clearly demonstrated through its initiatives and policies. The findings in this review are critical in identifying those institutions of higher education which are role models in their strong commitment to achieving carbon neutrality. Such role model universities can pave the way for similar climate action at other universities.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.3390/su14010222
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4005 Civil engineering
Current > Division/Research > College of Science and Engineering
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords sustainability, carbon neutrality, higher education, Australia, carbon neutral
Citations in Scopus 13 - View on Scopus
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