Issue 130 | Jul-Sep 2022

Answering the Call to Action

As a leading global university based in Asia and Singapore’s flagship university, NUS is committed to advancing sustainable development and contributing to the fight against climate change.


Building on its long-standing involvement in sustainability and leveraging its vast intellectual resources across academic disciplines, NUS established the University Sustainability and Climate Action Council in 2021 to coordinate and scale up its green programmes and initiatives across its key pillars of education, research and campus operations. The Council — chaired by NUS President and composed of faculty and staff from different specialisations — guides and shapes policies and programmes on how the University equips graduates with future-ready skills, generates new knowledge and develops a climate-resilient campus. 

Innovation-inspired research excellence

Acknowledging the complexity of climate science and sustainability, NUS researchers conduct high-quality inter-disciplinary research to create new knowledge and develop sustainability solutions optimised for tropical, urban and Asian settings to meet the needs of increasingly urgent, yet multifaceted global challenges. The University has identified the following priority research domains:

Green Energy Technologies: solar, waste-to-energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, green hydrogen fuel production, carbon capture, storage and utilisation

Urban Heat Resilience: smart cooling, climate-sensitive design of the urban environment, heat stress and associated strategies

Coastal Engineering and Flood Prevention: tracking sea level rise, modelling of coastal flooding, flood prevention and coastal protection

Nature-based Climate Solutions: protecting and better managing natural ecosystems, informing climate policies and strategies

Agri-food Technology: urban agriculture and aquaculture solutions, AI and IoT for agri-food applications, biotechnology for sustainable food production

Water Treatment and Purification: catchment management, water monitoring and treatment, water reclamation, seawater desalination, energy and resource recovery

Campus grounds — responsible stewardship & living lab

NUS is taking responsibility for its environmental footprint, and developing a climate-resilient and resource-efficient campus for the future. The Campus Sustainability Roadmap 2030 comprises three key programmes:

Carbon Neutral Campus: to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, contributing to Singapore’s national target to peak emissions by 2030

Cool NUS: to develop a biophilic and environmentally-sensitive campus to cool ambient temperature and mitigate the urban heat island effect

Zero Waste NUS: to become a zero-waste campus and divert 90% of campus waste away from incineration plants by significantly increasing reuse and recycling

NUS is also using its campus grounds as a living laboratory to test-bed institution-led technologies and create innovative learning experiences for its students and staff. Examples of on-campus projects include: 

SDE4, the first new-build net-zero energy building in Singapore that is energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly, with a suite of innovative building strategies to improve the comfort and well-being of building users

Keppel Infrastructure-NUS Low Carbon Living Laboratory to jump-start smart grid, clean power, renewables and sustainable environmental technology solutions

ComfortDelGro-NUS Smart & Sustainable Mobility Living Lab to research, test and analyse mobility technologies to generate insights for implementation in mass-market solutions

“Recycle Right” Bins to nudge people to recycle right, currently available in the College of Design and Engineering and University Town, and will be rolled out campus-wide

Sustainability in education

Sustainability is a multifaceted challenge. It involves policy, supply chain, human capital, research and development, and governance, to name a few. Given its interdisciplinary nature, NUS aims to provide quality education to both its graduate and undergraduate students, equipping them with either a broad understanding or deep appreciation of sustainability issues.

NUS offers nine bachelor’s degree programmes with a sustainability focus, including the Bachelor of Environmental Studies, 12 master’s programmes, as well as over 190 undergraduate and 140 graduate modules with sustainability themes. In continuing education, NUS offers programmes with a 360° view on sustainability and climate change, from graduate certificates and executive certificates to short courses and executive education.

Integrating sustainability and climate action in all of NUS’ activities is aligned with the University’s guiding principles of excellence in teaching, research and innovation, and public service. Collectively, NUS will shape the future of sustainability and climate action in an impactful way.

Leading Sustainability and Climate Change: Lessons from the Little Green Dot

Bringing together NUS thought leaders and notable guest speakers, this pan-NUS executive programme aims to provide participants with an appreciation of the macro issues on sustainability and climate change, and to deepen their understanding of the sustainability challenges from the perspective of doing business in Asia. Participants can expect to hear from distinguished speakers on the business of sustainability, participate in discussions with other professionals from business organisations and be exposed to sustainable innovations at NUS.

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