NUS Climate Action Month> March
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:
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 :
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
The month kicked off with 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 (20 March)
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.
Singapore World Water Day @ NUS (22 March)
Students at Ridge View Residential College sharing with Minister Masagos about their project on dragonflies as an indicator species for clean water on Singapore World Water Day
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.
Symposium on Futures Sustainability 2018 (24 March)
Panellists at the Symposium on Futures Sustainability 2018 discussing the complexities behind preserving blue spaces in Singapore and beyond
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.
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.
Operation Lifehack 2.0 – The Sustainability Edition> 28 Feb – 1 Mar
In partnership with The Aviva Digital Garage and NUS Enterprise, OES co-hosted a hackathon open to NUS students. The challenge – to solve a problem statement relating to three of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals: Good Health & Well-being, Sustainable Cities & Communities, and Climate Action.
On the first day, participants were welcomed at Aviva’s Digital Garage. Kickstarting the day’s activities were Mr Andrew Swinley, Regional HR Business Partner, Aviva Asia and Digital, and Mr Jamie Baldock, Head of Digital Marketing, Aviva Asia, who shared with the participants about Aviva’s work, as well as how they can begin the ideation process. Mr Sahari Bin Ali, Director at Singapore Red Cross, also spoke about the various social issues he saw in his daily work. Participants were then split into their teams and tasked to create digital solutions, with a business case backing it up, all in the span of three days.
On the final day, participants arrived at The Hangar @ NUS Enterprise to present their ideas to the panel of judges comprising: Ms Amy Ho, Director, NUS Office of Environmental Sustainability; Ms Stephanie Dickson, Founder of The Wedge Asia & Green Is The New Black; Ms Gloria Lai, Head of Digital Trading, The Aviva Digital Garage; and Mr Jamie Baldock, Head of Propositions and Marketing, The Aviva Digital Garage.
The six teams provided wide-ranging solutions to the three Sustainable Development Goals such as a special radio for senior citizens that informs them of activities to improve their physical and emotional well-being, an online clothes sharing platform, and digitised pop-up stores that retail health screening kits.
After much deliberation, the judges announced the winners. The grand prize, sponsored by Aviva Digital Garage, was 6-week volunteering trip under AIESEC’s Global Volunteer programme for the entire team. Team Reviva walked away with the grand prize, impressing the judges with their integrated digital platform connecting supermarkets with unsold perishable food, and the public.
Various speakers sharing valuable insights with the participants
Teams putting in the final touches before their presentations to the panel of judges
Teams delivering their final presentations before the panel of judges
(Clockwise from left) Teams Reviva, Foodsteps, and L’edio receiving their prizes from the judges
sustainABLE NUS Showcase 2017> 29 Aug– 30 Aug
Held at University Town from 29 to 30 August 2017, the sustainABLE NUS Showcase was NUS’ inaugural event to highlight actions that the University is taking to transform NUS into a greener campus, as well as the University’s efforts in research and education to meet sustainability challenges of today and the future. Organised by the Office of Environmental Sustainability, with support from the Office of Deputy President (Research and Technology) and the School of Design and Environment, the Showcase aimed to inspire, educate and allow the NUS community to explore current and real-life sustainability possibilities.
To kick off the event on the first day, the Ridge View Residential College (RVRC) Jukebox performed local favourites “Home” and “Saving Gaia”, providing a joyous atmosphere for the occasion. This was followed by a welcome address from NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan and opening remarks by the Guest-of-Honour, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR), Mr Masagos Zulkifli.
Opening performance by RVRC Jukebox
NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan speaking about the diverse initiatives and capabilities which the NUS community has developed and implemented to contribute to making Singapore a vibrant, livable and sustainable city
MEWR Minister Mr Masagos Zulkifli sharing about how technology, education, infrastructure and an engaged community will continue to be key enablers for sustainability and how universities like NUS can play a key role in achieving a Sustainable Singapore
The Showcase brought together various NUS offices, faculties, research institutes and student groups, as well as government and community partners, focusing on four key areas:
Sustainability in Operations: (L) Prof Yong Kwet Yew, Vice President (Campus Infrastructure) and Chairman of the NUS Sustainability Steering Committee (SSC), explaining the sustainability efforts undertaken by the committee in campus planning, development and operations to Minister Masagos. The SSC comprises five task forces: Energy Task Force, Water Management Task Force, Waste Minimisation & Recycling Task Force, Built Environment Task Force, and Green Spaces (in Buildings) Task Force. The goals and strategies of the SSC and the respective Task Forces are detailed in the NUS Sustainability Strategic Plan 2017–2020.
Sustainability in Research & Education: Minister Masagos visiting the various Research & Education booths (clockwise from left) – NUS-PUB Project on Smart Shower Metering, School of Design & Environment, NUS Environmental Research Institute, and Faculty of Science. Other booths in the Research & Education zone include: Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore, Advanced Redox Flow Battery, Virtual NUS, SynCTI, Tropical Marine Science Institute, Faculty of Engineering, and Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
Sustainability in Community Engagement (clockwise from left): Ng Ning from NUS SAVE explaining the Ctrl + Alt + Del waste manager life-size board game to Minister Masagos; Energy Carta; Bachelor of Environmental Studies (BES) Drongos; and Ridge View Residential College booths. Student representatives from various Halls of Residences also exhibited their green initiatives as part of the InterHall Environmental Award.
Partnership in Sustainability: Government partners at the Showcase engaging with the NUS community (clockwise from top left) – Building & Construction Authority; Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources; National Parks Board; South West CDC; National Environment Agency; Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore; PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency
We hope that everyone who came enjoyed themselves and learnt a thing or two about how to adopt sustainable lifestyles. Stay tuned to our website and emails for next year’s edition of the Showcase!
Food Production and Climate Change> 06 Jul - 21 Jul
In the public consciousness, climate change is usually linked to the burning of fossil fuels for transport and electricity production. However, an often overlooked, but no less important, contributor to climate change is food production. ‘Food Production and Climate Change’ was a series of events that aimed to introduce the impacts of food production on climate change and how individuals can mitigate these impacts. Below were the events in this series.
A lunch time screening of the documentary ‘Meat the Truth’ was held at the Central Library. Although earlier films about climate change have convincingly succeeded in drawing public attention to the issue of global warming, they have repeatedly ignored one of the most important causes of climate change, namely: intensive livestock production. Meat the Truth has drawn attention to this by demonstrating that livestock farming generates more greenhouse gas emissions worldwide than all cars, lorries, trains, boats and planes added together.
This was a lunch time talk given by Rebecca Cappelli from ‘Let us be Heroes’ on the impacts of food production and our food choices on our planet. Nutritional and ethical aspects of food production were also discussed. In addition, various initiatives in NUS (such as Project Box, Project Tumbler, Food Bank collection boxes, Eco Food Court certification and Healthier Dining Programme) that individuals can support to mitigate the climate change impacts of food were shared at the end of this talk.
This visit introduced us to locally grown vegetables, which have a lower carbon footprint than imported vegetables. We were shown the different stages of vegetable farming such as the germination room, nursery greenhouse, hydroponics greenhouse, nutrient mixing room and the harvesting centre. There was also a short demonstration on how to grow plants hydroponically at home using recycled materials. At the end of the visit, we were given complimentary vegetables and had the opportunity to shop for more vegetables and hydroponics equipment at the on-site store.
NUS University Town Awarded the ISCN Sustainable Campus Excellence Award 2017 (Building and Innovative Infrastructure)> 30 Jun
At this year’s International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN) Conference, NUS’ University Town (UTown) was awarded the ISCN Sustainable Campus Excellence Award (Building and Innovative Infrastructure) for its exceptional sustainability performance. The Award was received by Prof Yong Kwet Yew, Vice President (Campus Infrastructure) on 29 June at the University of British Columbia.
Prof Yong Kwet Yew, Vice President (Campus Infrastructure), receiving the award from Ms Heather Vickery, ISCN Network Relations Manager
The ISCN Sustainable Campus Excellence Awards recognise universities for exceptional sustainability efforts in campus planning, integration with academics, student leadership, and building projects. Other winners of this year’s Award are: University of Applied Sciences Trier, Germany (Campus Planning and Management Systems Award), Swarthmore College, United States (Innovative Collaboration Award), and Chiba University, Japan (Student Leadership Award).
Every year, the ISCN Conference brings together thought leaders, practitioners and change agents for a unique opportunity to exchange perspectives and form global partnerships in pursuit of sustainability. This year, the ISCN conference was co-hosted by the University of British Columbia and City of Vancouver. Themed “Climate. City. Campus.”, this year’s conference focused on how activities on campuses and at cities contribute to climate change at a global level.
Bird’s eye view of UTown
UTown is a 19 hectare mixed-use residential, sports, educational and research development. An extension of NUS’ main Kent Ridge campus, UTown occupies the site of a vacated golf course which offered a unique opportunity to create a sustainably designed, built and operated precinct of this scale from scratch, whilst retaining much of the original lush tropical terrain.
Town Green, with Education Resource Centre in the background
Masterplanned from the onset but constructed in phases, UTown comprises four residential colleges, a student residence, an education resource centre, a sports complex, a research and development complex and Asia’s first liberal arts college upon its completion in 2015. This extension campus is now where a total of 15,000 (on average) undergraduate and graduate students, staff and researchers work, live, learn and play – providing a holistic learning environment and a vibrant student experience.
As Singapore’s 1st Green Mark district (awarded by Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority) and with all buildings within the precinct at least Green Mark certified, UTown exemplifies NUS’ commitment to a more sustainable campus environment by realising three objectives – to achieve low carbon emissions, to conserve and encourage the growth of an ecologically biodiverse habitat; and to create a sustainable pedagogical environment enjoyed by all campus users.
Green roof at Education Resource Centre, set against the residential colleges
Each year, UTown is estimated to cut down on 3.8 million kWh of electricity, saving close to $1 million; and some 244,800 cubic metres of water – enough for almost 100 Olympic sized pools. For example, the extensive green roofs at UTown are used to cleanse storm water as it filters through the plants and soil. A portion of the rainwater is then used to water campus plants while the remainder is pumped into a campus water feature.
In a tropical climate like Singapore, air conditioning is heavily relied on as a cooling mechanism, resulting in higher energy usage. To decrease the amount of energy required, major circulation areas in UTown were designed to maximise natural ventilation, supplemented by the use of mechanical fans to create a cool environment without sacrificing comfort. UTown also houses the first district cooling plant for a tertiary institution (for centralized production and distribution of cooling energy), so that the on-demand cooling needs of its buildings can be met in as efficient a manner as possible. To discourage excessive energy use, hostel rates at UTown Residence and the residential colleges are not inclusive of utilities charges arising from the usage of the air conditioning unit, and a separate charge is applicable via a prepaid or “Pay as You Use” scheme.
Tembusu tree in the middle of the Education Resource Centre
Optimising the integration of the built and natural environment as well as protecting the ecosystem were key considerations in the design and planning of UTown. Because the original site is rich in flora and fauna, a biodiversity study was conducted prior to planning and development. As far as possible, the natural biodiversity and a wide variety of native plant species were preserved. Trees of high heritage intrinsic value were retained, with buildings designed around them.
Sheltered walkway linking buildings in UTown
To encourage students to ride their bikes and walk on campus, UTown has an interior network of sheltered walkways and dedicated bicycle lanes. A covered link bridge connects UTown to the main campus, allowing students to walk or bike between the campuses.
UTown is NUS’ largest integrated sustainability-centric capital development to-date and is an important cornerstone as the University continues in its efforts to green its campus. The sustainability principles guiding UTown’s design and development also serve as a “template” for subsequent capital development projects that the University embarks on.
Visit to St. John's Island National Marine Laboratory & Marine Aquaculture Centre> 16 Jun, 9.45am – 5.30pm
To promote greater awareness on Singapore’s aquaculture and unique marine ecosystems, the Office of Environmental Sustainability conducted a visit to the St. John's Island National Marine Laboratory (SJINML) and Marine Aquaculture Centre (MAC) for NUS staff on 16 June 2017. NUS staff were able to appreciate the importance of local food sources in strengthening Singapore’s food security as well as the rich biodiversity in Singapore’s waters.
Group photo at St. John’s Island
The St. John’s Island visit was split into two sessions. In the morning, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) conducted a tour of MAC facilities such as the Rotifers Room, Algae Culture Room and Fish Spawning Room. Participants were able to understand deeper about the research and development processes in aquaculture.
An AVA officer (in white) explaining more about the microalgae processes at the MAC
An AVA officer (in blue) answering queries regarding local fish species and fish spawning processes
Participants getting a closer look at zooplankton which are fed to fish larvae
After the tour of MAC, staff travelled to the nearby SJINML to understand more about local marine biodiversity. SJINML staff gave a short tour of the aquarium that encloses giant clams and a touch pool, as well as a short talk on local biodiversity at the public gallery of the Marine Park Outreach and Education Centre.
Ms Joyce Leo from SJINML giving deeper insights into the local biodiversity at the touch pool display
The public gallery at the Marine Park Outreach and Education Centre
Walking Workshops || Exploring Urban Nature> 26 Apr, 3.00pm – 6.00pm
The Walking Workshop co-organised by the Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES) and Ms Ng Huiying, an NUS Masters student in Geography, sparked vibrant discussion and learning amongst staff surrounding topics of nature and green spaces amidst the bustling city lifestyle.
The workshop gave participants an opportunity to share their concerns about gardening and nature in an urban environment. As part of the workshop, Mr Goh Ter Yang from OES and Mr Ang Chee Wee from the Office of Facilities Management also guided participants through various green spaces in NUS, including the community garden at Ventus.
Huiying giving an introduction before the workshop
Ter Yang giving an introduction about the community garden at Ventus, an initiative by OES. The garden is grown and maintained by NUS staff who are passionate about gardening.
Participants exploring the community garden at Ventus
Chee Wee from OFM guiding participants through some green spaces on campus, starting from the Ventus rooftop, to the area outside Ventus covered with natural vegetation (picture above).
To end the workshop, each participant created a drawing of what they felt best represents urban nature. Participants also discussed about how they can play a part in sustaining green spaces in an urban environment.
Visit to Waste-to-Energy Plant> 13 Apr, 1.30pm – 4.30pm
To promote greater awareness of the solid waste management process in Singapore, the Office of Environmental Sustainability conducted a visit to the Keppel Seghers Tuas Waste-To-Energy Plant for NUS staff on 13 April 2017. Participants were given an introduction to the solid waste incineration process, followed by a comprehensive sight and smell guided tour to the plant’s Refuse Crane Control Room and the Central Control Room.
Through this visit, participants got the opportunity to learn about the significance of a well-managed waste disposal system in maintaining a clean city-state, as well as the future challenges in solid waste management.
NUS staff at the Waste-to-Energy Plant
Biodiversity Roadshow @ NUS> 16 Feb, 11:00am - 3:00pm
As part of the Office of Environmental Sustainability’s efforts to promote biodiversity on campus, a roadshow was held at The Forum on 16 Feb 2017. The main aim of the roadshow was to raise awareness of the biodiversity that can be found in NUS and Singapore, as well as to promote the biodiversity work of various NUS departments and student groups.
Volunteers from NUS Toddycats and the Bachelor of Environmental Studies (BES) Drongos engaging students and staff over specimens from the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM). The booth featured preserved specimens of commonly encountered snakes in NUS, a plantain squirrel, a palm civet and a specially curated insect box from LKCNHM, accompanied by blown up posters of other creatures found on campus.
National Parks Board staff recruiting NUS students and staff to join their Citizen Science programmes, which require the the participation of the community in organised research endeavours. Data derived from these projects informs decision makers about biodiversity and helps to formulate conservation strategies.
Biodiversity-related merchandise sold by NUS Co-op such as stuffed animals, books, and even DIY kits to grow herbs!
Kwek Jun Yi from NUS Students Against Violation of the Earth (SAVE) sharing with students and staff about the rich biodiversity that can be found on campus. This is part of the “Campus in a Tropical Rainforest” initiative, a collaboration between NUS SAVE and the Office of Environmental Sustainability which aims to create awareness of the biodiversity that surrounds us in NUS.
At the roadshow, staff from the Office of Facilities Management’s (OFM) horticulture team shared with students and staff about the campus greenery masterplan and the significant tree species that can be found on campus. OFM is the department in charge of maintaining the greenery and landscaping in NUS.
Staff from the Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) sharing with the NUS community about their work. TMSI is a NUS centre for excellence for marine science and engineering in the tropical region. At the roadshow, students and staff were also able to sign up for trips to visit TMSI’s St John’s Island National Marine Laboratory.
NEA Youth Partners Appreciation & Networking Session> 20 Jan, 4:00pm - 6:00pm
In January, the Office of Environmental Sustainability, together with the National Environment Agency (NEA), co-hosted the NEA Youth Partners Appreciation & Networking Session 2017 at the NUS Computer Centre. The event provided an opportunity for NEA’s youth partners, several of whom are NUS students, to foster collaborative efforts and intercultural understanding, as well as meet new friends and renew ties with the old.
Student representatives from the green clubs at NUS, Yale-NUS College and Nanyang Technological University shared their experiences on organising and collaborating with like-minded groups on environmental initiatives targeting both the campus community, as well as the general public. The audience also had an opportunity to hear the Swiss perspective, with student organisers teleconferencing in from ETH Zurich to speak about the variety of activities that took place over the Sustainability Week Zurich in 2016.
Ms Paula Kesavan (left), NEA Deputy Director (Schools & Youth), and Ms Amy Ho (right), Director of the NUS Office of Environmental Sustainability, delivering the opening addresses.
Pascal (left, on screen) from the University of Zurich and Laurence (right, on screen) from ETH Zurich – members of the core organising team of Sustainability Week Zurich – delivering their presentation to the audience.
Muhammad Alif, Vice-President of NUS Students Against the Violation of the Earth (SAVE), sharing with the audience on SAVE's annual flagship campaign, “NUS Goes Lite”, as well as the collaborative approach adopted by SAVE when working on environmental initiatives.
Wong Zhi Sian, President of Earthlink NTU, sharing on the group's signature events – "Greenfest", Earthlink's annual environmental campaign, and "Our Green Generation", an outreach event targeting residents at Jurong Spring.
Chua Wan Ping, Co-Founder of the Sustainability Solutions Network, speaking on collaboration in the 21st century, and the reason behind the formation of the Network.
Q&A session with the three young speakers – Neo Xiaoyun (bottom left) from I’dECO, Yale-NUS College’s Sustainability Movement, and Ng Rui Qin from SMU verts (bottom right), SMU’s environmental club, posing questions to the panellists.
Ms Amy Ho and Mr Goh Ter Yang from OES receiving a plaque from Ms Paula Kesavan from NEA (top left), along with student speakers receiving a plush toy of Captain Green, NEA’s official mascot.
NEA staff and youth partners ushering in the new year with lo hei and looking forward to more collaborations in the Rooster year ahead!
World Food Week 2016> 03 Oct - 07 Oct
World Food Week was a sustainABLE NUS initiative to commemorate World Food Day on 16 October 2016, which in turn commemorates the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. World Food Week aimed to educate and raise awareness on sustainability issues related to food, as well as the health and cultural significance of food.
Various groups in NUS stepped forward to organise different kinds of activities for the NUS community (event listings can be found here). Here are some of the highlights of the week.
The Coffee Interest Group from the College of Alice and Peter Tan had a pop up café at UTown plaza that offered coffee brewing workshops, as well as free coffee to anyone who brought their own mugs. They also shared how coffee can be grown in a sustainable way that reduces deforestation and herbicide use.
Students from the Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering organised a food fair at UTown plaza featuring local vendors selling healthy food products, which included healthy snacks, gourmet nut butters and cold-pressed juices.
NUS Libraries set up a cosy corner displaying books on social, security, health and sustainability issues related to food. There was also a space where people could write down their pledges to stop wasting food.
NUS Libraries also organised two film screening sessions at the Central Library. The documentary shown was "Hungry for Change: Your health is in your hands", which exposes the diet industry's deceptive strategies designed to keep people coming back for more. Each audience member was given a bag of fruits to promote healthy eating.
Decked out in traditional Indian clothes, the Kent Vale Ladies Group set up a booth in UTown serving traditional Indian cuisine. In addition to food tasting, the booth also displayed various kitchenware and spices found in the Indian kitchen. Displayed alongside the kitchenware were stories about how they were passed down and used through the generations.
The NUS Sado Club had a pop up café at AS8 to introduce the art of the Japanese tea ceremony and share how tea can be grown sustainably. In addition to high grade matcha, tea sweets were also served. For those who did not take part in the tea ceremony, there was a café style sit-down area.
The International Relations Office (IRO) organised a pot luck for exchange students. It was supposed to be an outdoor picnic at UTown Green, but because of the rain, it was shifted to the covered roof top of the Education Resource Centre. Despite the rain, our exchange students showed up in force, some of them bringing food from their own countries to share. As the host, the IRO prepared Singaporean delicacies from our various ethnic groups, which included assorted Nyonya kueh, chicken curry in bread (a.k.a golden pillow), naan, roti John etc.
Other activities that happened during World Food Week were:
InterHall Environmental Award AY15/16 prize giving ceremony cum futures thinking workshop> 10 Sep, 9:00am - 2:00pm
The InterHall Environmental Award is a yearly award that seeks to engage the Halls to reduce NUS' environmental impacts and to cultivate environmentally reponsible citizens amongst the Hall residents. Winners of the AY15/16 competition cycle gathered this Saturday morning to receive their prizes from Ms Amy Ho, Director of the Office of Environmental Sustainability. Also present were representatives from various student environmental groups in NUS and Resident Fellows of the Halls.
Left: Certificates of Achievement and the InterHall Environmental Award trophy. The trophy is made from recycled bicycle parts. Right: Ms Amy Ho, Director of Office of Environmental Sustainability, giving the opening address.
Eusoff Hall won the First Prize and walked away with the trophy and $3000.
Kent Ridge Hall, King Edward VII Hall, Raffles Hall and Temasek Hall won the Commendation Prize and each walked away with $800.
Hall Representatives receiving the Commendation Prize. From left to right: Kent Ridge Hall, King Edward VII Hall, Raffles Hall and Temasek Hall
This year's prize giving ceremony was held in conjunction with a futures thinking workshop, which took place immediately after the prize giving ceremony. This workshop was organised for representatives from various student environmental groups so that they can:
Ice breaking session taking place
Workshop facilitators Farah Sanwari (left) and Kay Chew Lin (right) from Sustainable Living Lab Pte Ltd
During the workshop, we explored trends that would affect our cause towards a sustainable future and analysed them for their potential consequences. The trends discussed relate to the environment, economy, as well as the democratisation of knowledge. With an understanding of the various trends, we then created new narratives of the future and tried to prototype products or services that expressed our narratives.
Top: Working in groups to analyse the consequences of trends using the futures wheel. Bottom: Sharing of trend analysis, students were encouraged to bring their own tumblers/ mugs for the refreshments.
Creating and presenting prototypes
NUS Day of Service: Bin Right!> 03 Sep, 9:00am - 5:00pm
The Office of Environmental Sustainability, together with the NUS Environmental Studies Alumni and MSc (Environmental Management) Alumni, co-organised "Bin Right!", a day-long public awareness campaign on proper recycling at City Square Mall.This event was part of the first-ever NUS Day of Service, a concerted effort by the NUS community to give back to our wider community through action and service.
Our rationale for having this campaign on proper recycling is that about 40 to 50 percent of recyclables collected in recycling bins do not get recycled in the end. They are instead treated as general waste and incinerated. This is because these recyclables are contaminated by food waste when people deliberately or carelessly throw food waste into recycling bins, making the recyclables no longer recyclable. "Bin Right!" aims to promote more responsible behaviour among users of recycling bins.
Contents of a recycling bin at City Square Mall. Can you see the leftover drinks in the plastic cups?
Twenty volunteers registered to help out. With our posters and iPads, we approached shoppers to inform them about which materials can and cannot be recycled. We also highlighted the adverse consequences of improper waste disposal.
Project UP: Sustainability roadshows at student residences> 31 Jul - 13 Sep
The Office of Environmental Sustainability brought a roving roadshow to all the Halls of Residence, Residential Colleges and student residences. Titled Project UP and targeted at students living on campus, this roadshow aimed to raise awareness of and spur action in three main areas: energy saving, water saving and waste management.
Project UP employed a three-pronged approach: Save UP, Buddy UP and Speak UP. See below for a better idea.
The booths were set up either at the main entrances or dining halls during evenings, or in the case of Prince George's Park Residences, in the waiting area during mass check-in before the start of the semester.
On display at the booths were information panels and tote bags made from old T-shirts. We shared with visitors to our booth various tips on how to be more environmentally friendly, one of which was how to transform our old T-shirts into tote bags without needing any sewing techniques.
There was also a quiz in which participants had to pick out false statements about environmental issues. Those who completed the quiz got a chance to get a prize from a lucky dip. The top prize was a set of microUSB rechargeable batteries. Compared to alkaline batteries which have to be thrown away after they become flat, using rechargeable batteries over a period of time is friendlier to our environment because less waste is produced.
Special thanks go to the Green Team from King Edward VII Hall for helping out at our booth!
Night survey on energy use in Ventus> 16 Aug - 17 Aug
Last year during our Deepavali celebrations, we played games to highlight and introduce to our colleagues the various energy saving features found in Ventus building (such as timer switches, motion sensors etc), as well as to promote actions that individuals can take to help save energy. These games were part of a series of simple energy saving measures that have been progressively put in place in Ventus building since the latter part of 2015.
Our energy saving efforts have seen some success. Between January and June this year, each month has seen a year-on-year drop of approximately 5% in energy usage compared to its corresponding month in 2015.
We wanted this trend to continue, so we decided to reward our colleagues who did their part in saving energy. On two consecutive nights, we conducted surveys on the offices in Ventus building.
Firstly, we checked if all the lights were switched off.
Secondly, after making sure that all electronics such as computers and monitors at individual desks were completely shut down, we left behind thank you notes on the desks of conscientious colleagues who remembered to switch off. On the notes were directions to the pantry, where we placed their presents. The presents were Ceylon black tea that was grown and packaged sustainably.
Saving energy is a collective effort. We hope that our little rewards made our energy saving colleagues feel that their efforts were recognised and appreciated.
Get-together for community gardeners in Ventus building> 25 Jul, 8:30am - 9:00am
The Ventus building (where the Office of Environmental Sustainability is situated) has a community garden on the rooftop where staff volunteers get to grow their desired plants.
On the morning of 25 July 2016, we organised a get-together for our community gardeners to have some snacks as well as to exchange gardening tips. The community garderners were in the process of giving the rooftop garden an overhaul and shared their plans for the revamped garden with each other.
We wish our community gardeners bountiful harvests from the rooftop garden this year!
NUS Libraries Cares for the Environment Week 2016 launch event> 06 Jun, 9:00am - 10:30am
NUS Libraries' green action team, the GreenSprouts, also affectionately known by the library staff as the Taugeh team, held their inaugural NUS Libraries Cares for the Environment Week. Launching the week's activities was a talk about our annual haze problem by Tan Yi Han, current student of the M.Sc. (Environmental Management) programme at NUS and co-founder of People's Movement to Stop Haze.
In his talk, Yi Han explained the underlying factors that contribute to the haze problem, highlighting especially the consequences of using fires to clear peatlands for palm oil cultivation. One reason why the haze problem is so difficult to tackle is our immense demand for palm oil, which is used in many houseshold products. Yi Han demonstrated this by getting the audience to read the ingredient labels of bread wrappers and toothpaste. One takeaway from this talk was that as individual consumers, we can contribute to reducing the haze problem by only buying RSPO certified products.
In addition to the talk, NUS Libraries also supported our SustainABLE NUS campaign by displaying our campaign posters in a mini-exhibition and getting the library staff to take individual pledges to perform concrete green actions, such as reducing the use of air conditioners at home and using less water when brushing teeth.
Other activities held during the week include:
More photos from this event can be found at NUS Libraries' official gallery. You can go there by clicking on any of the photos below.
NUS Arts Festival 2016: WonderBrain> 11 Mar - 26 Mar
The Office of Environmental Sustainability and NUS Centre For the Arts, together with NUS Museum and ACE Seniors, collaborated on a community art science knitting project known as 'WonderBrain'. This was held in conjunction with NUS Arts Festival 2016 and the art work was displayed at Alice Lee Plaza next to the University Cultural Centre.
The WonderBrain sculpture and visual artists Kelly Limerick (left) and Tricia Hollinguam (right).
This giant brain sculpture was the celebration of the imagination and many months of knit work by visual artists Tricia Hollinguam, Kelly Limerick and a hundred volunteer students and staff from NUS, as well as members of the public from ACE Seniors and the community. Using old T-shirts and plastic bags, ordinary materials were given new life to inspire with a visual representation of the wonderful possibilities of the human brain.
Before the actual set up, a series of workshops was organised by Kelly and Tricia to train volunteer knitters to knit, crochet and weave parts of the giant human brain that were ready for installation.
Take a closer look at the completed sculpture!
Have you seen our incredible #WONDERBRAIN at the Alice Lee Plaza (beside the UCC)? Through giving new life to ordinary objects like T-shirts and plastic bags, this knit artwork celebrates imagination and the possibilities of the human brain. Come see it for yourself!Artists: Kllylmrck & Tricia HollingumPartners: NUS Office Of Environmental Sustainability, NUS Museum & ACE SeniorsPosted by NUS Arts Festival on Saturday, March 12, 2016
Know Your Fellow (Non-Human) Singaporeans!> 19 Jan – 29 Feb
An online quiz about giant clams was held at the beginning of this year. NUS students and staff were invited to visit the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum to look for exhibits on giant clams and answer five questions in our online quiz to take part in our lucky draw.
We thank everyone who has taken the time and effort to take part in our quiz. Here are the answers to our quiz:
Important as food, shelters, and reef builders
7, (six exhibits on level 1; one exhibit on level 2)
Locations of the giant clam shell exihbits. Unless otherwise stated, all exhibits are found on Level 1. Did you manage to find all of them?
Here are the three winners of our lucky draw who answered correctly all the questions above. Congratulations to them!
From left to right: Tan Xing Zhi, Life Sciences Year 1; Jing Zhou, MBA Candidate Year 2; Yvonne Fong Ching Ying, Life Sciences Year 4
Post-Paris COP21 Dialogue: Climate Change and You> 03 Feb, 4:30pm - 6:30pm
On the evening of 03 February 2016, the Office of Environmental Sustainability and the Energy Studies Institute co-organised a dialogue session to discuss what the Paris Agreement, achieved during the COP21 climate negotiations held in December 2015, means to countries, institutions and individuals going forward. Panel discussants included representatives from the Energy Studies Institute, French Embassy, National Climate Change Secretariat and WWF International.
The Ambassador of Costa Rica to Singapore, His Excellency Jairo Hernández Milián, was the special guest. NUS students who participated in the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) Global University Climate Forum that was held in Paris in conjunction with the COP21 negotiations also shared their experiences from Paris and their thoughts about climate change. They also put up posters showcasing their proposed green projects that will be carried out in NUS this year to help tackle climate change.
More photos from the dialogue session can be found here.
NUS Sustainability Fund now open for application> 01 Jan – 22 Jan
If you are a NUS student and are looking for money to carry out your green project, NUS Students Against Violation of the Earth (SAVE) invites you to apply for the NUS Sustainability Fund.
The application deadline is 22 January 2016, 6:00pm.
For enquiries, please email email@example.com
The Business Times, 29 December 2016
Prof Asit K Biswas, Dr Cecilia Tortajada and Ms Udisha Saklani from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS noted that water planning in India has been on an unsustainable path for centuries and discussed the challenges that it faces in water allocation, and shared their research findings on problems with the existing tribunal system.
The Straits Times, 23 December 2016
Asst Prof Daniel Friess from the Dept of Geography at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is leading a scientific study to naturally regenerate the sea holly, as well as other mangrove plants, in the abandoned aquaculture ponds on Pulau Ubin.
The Business Times, 21 December 2016
Mr Gautam Jindal and Ms Melissa Low from the Energy Studies Institute at NUS discussed how 2016 will be remembered as monumental for the fight against global climate change as countries came together in three separate forums and negotiated agreements to put forward their best efforts on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and managing climate change impacts. The authors opined that while Singapore may contribute only 0.2 per cent of global greenhouse emissions, it will also need to ensure that it continues to show climate leadership.
The Straits Times, 26 January 2017
A team of 20 NUS students received $15,000 for its project in the Philippines under Maybank’s eMpowering Youths Across Asean programme, which involved setting up a system to harvest rainwater for household use, as well as a biosand filter to recycle bathroom and kitchen waste water for residential use.
The Straits Times, 23 January 2017
Prof Armin Aberle, Chief Executive Officer of the Solar Energy Research Institute at NUS, has developed a new solar panel with local solar firm REC Solar, which can convert more of the sun’s energy into electricity, compared with a conventional panel of the same size. It is also able to work even if part of it is shaded, something conventional panels cannot do.
The Straits Times, 13 January 2017
Dr Toh Tai Chong from the Tropical Marine Science Institute at NUS led a coral transplantation project that proved successful with a recorded survival rate of more than 90 per cent. The coral nursery project is one of the initiatives funded by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore to save marine life in the way of the Tuas port development.
The Straits Times, 13 January 2017
A new study by scientists from the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, NUS and NParks has found that murky waters could reduce the impact of sea temperature rises on corals - though only in the short term. This could explain why corals growing in shallow areas here survived two major bleaching incidents.
The Straits Times, 07 January 2017
Dr Cecilia Tortajada from the Institute of Water Policy at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS opined that while systems innovations in Singapore’s water resources management are essential to boost efficiency, only societal innovations make for permanent solutions, and that permanency should be the goal to look for.
The Straits Times, 23 February 2017; The New Paper, 22 February 2017
Research Associate Mr Martin Stavenhagen, together with Senior Research Fellows Dr Joost Buurman and Dr Cecilia Tortajada, all from the Institute of Water Policy of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS, looked at how three European cities – Berlin, Copenhagen and Zaragoza – cut down water usage by raising prices and using a tariff system that penalises excessive water usage.
TODAY, 20 February 2017
Distinguished Visiting Professor Asit K Biswas and Dr Cecilia Tortajada, Senior Research Fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS, applauded Singapore’s decision to raise water prices after 17 years. They noted that pricing can affect behaviour and underpriced or free water leads to very inefficient uses of water, including increased wastage.
The Straits Times, 11 February 2017
Visiting Prof Sumit Agarwal from the Dept of Finance at NUS Business School and Dean’s Chair Assoc Prof Sing Tien Foo from the Dept of Real Estate at NUS School of Design and Environment, noted the need for Singaporeans to learn to conserve water and modify their attitudes towards water conservation over time in the direction of a more sustainable lifestyle. They collaborated with PUB and led an international research team to study how to cut households' water use for showers.
The Straits Times, 10 February 2017
Prof Stephen Hawkins, an expert on rocky shores from the University of Southampton in Britain, visited NUS under the National University of Singapore Society Professorship programme, and was hosted by the Dept of Biological Sciences (DBS) at NUS Faculty of Science. Prof Hawkins shared his studies on rocky shore habitats, and noted that while rocky shores are widely studied in temperate regions, there is scant data on them and how they function in the tropics. Researchers under Assoc Prof Peter Todd, who is from the DBS, are embarking on projects to learn more about these habitats.
TODAY, Capital 95.8FM, 09 February 2017
A study by NUS researchers, Ms Yuan Lin from NUS Faculty of Engineering; and Mr Lahiru Wijedesa and Dr Ryan Chisholm from NUS Faculty of Science, found that people in Singapore are willing to cough up nearly one per cent of their annual income to guarantee the absence of transboundary haze for a year.
The Straits Times Online, 04 February 2017; The Sunday Times, Tamil Murasu, 05 February 2017
Mr N. Sivasothi from the Dept of Biological Sciences at NUS Faculty of Science and NUS students were among the 67 volunteers who collected some 888kg of rubbish from the Lim Chu Kang mangrove during the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore.