The strength of UTM Sustainable Campus can be seen from the top management commitment translates into several initiatives, since ten years ago. Despite the lack of human capacity in tapping the several sustainability philosophies, understanding what are the actual living laboratories and the DNA of UTM sustainability, most of the national and international agenda already taken into account. As core-business of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), the integration between these three aspects; research, teaching and operations is greatest dreams available to achieve the Sustainable Campus (SC) Status. This approach in fact has been adopted by International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN) in measuring the SC performances of their SC members. Therefore, a Living Laboratory (LL) is created based on this benchmarking and global reputation works.
Benefiting from UTM as a Research University and various prominent achievement from the translational and transformational research agenda, it is strategically benefit and more rewarding if there is a concerted research efforts focus in the campus ecosystem. As part of the effort to revive the campus as LL approach, it is not only benefits for the students in conduct the small scale research that can save the operational budget but at the same time will enhance the transfer knowledge (translational research outcomes) to campus operational activity and way beyond to the society. Besides that, the hands on knowledge from operation somehow can benefit the desktop study by academician, as the predominant in the sustainability agenda to engage more stakeholders and improve the status-quo. It is a sustainable prudent resource management in the long run due to the future-ready university in the digital era.
Initially, UTM Campus Sustainability (UTMCS) experience several challenges that normally applies to any sustainability organization. One of the basic challenge is the indistinguishable / uncertain basic function of sustainable unit. At the first stage of Sustainability execution plan in 2011, several initiatives launch to instil the sustainable dimension into the existing facilities such as recycling effort to reduce the solid waste generation, knowing that waste is the second biggest contribution to carbon emission. However, the great moving forward from our Sustainability’s Advisor such Datuk Prof. Ir. Wahid Omar and Prof Dr. Azlan Abdul Rahman, now the Campus Sustainability reached to its priority in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and new governance framework towards 2030.
The second wave of sustainability roadmaps would be the integration of strategic approach to all stakeholders across field and department to strengthen the Green and Energy Managers. Green Office is another sustainability initiative at the university level that requires integration of sustainability element into the current work system and further be a responsible officer similar to Sustainability Officer which never exist in any corporate worlds. Currently, these positions covers to UTMJB, UTMKL and Pagoh, which indicate that UTM is one of the pioneer university in engaging sustainability across campuses. It is due to the requirement of assisting the most impactful and valuable program under synergetic translational of Key Amal Indicators (KAIs).
Most importantly, the needs for sustainability element in UTM is due to the formal educational course can be seen as one of the effective way in educate the students about sustainability. The three basic pillar of economic, environment and social dimension of sustainability will help in developing the soft skill, upskill and future demand in job creation rather than job-hunters. The sustainability subject has been also a part of the Induction Course for the professional and operational groups of new staff in UTM.
Another biggest challenges is to create the sustainability DNA (#UTMDNA) by fostering the behavioural change into their daily practice in UTM. There are few managerial and translational program created among stakeholders, such as under student union and Presidential Resident College Council, which to implement the sustainability policy among student’s activity. The contextual factors such as the residential college physical structure/ facilities, the right policy creating conducive and sustainable environment are among the duty of the UTM sustainable campus. The external factor will contributes in create the internal personal factors such as the awareness, attitude and behaviour on sustainability that translates into sustainable lifestyle as way of life in UTM Sustainable Campus.
UTMCS It is not only serving at the operational level but also towards the sustainability masterplan for university and global reputation (e.g. rating, ranking and networks). Joint the network or organization is another options to foster the SC status despite the economic, social and environmental benefit for the university in the future. Some of the organization such as ISCN requires standard report to measure the SC performance that allows the performance comparison among the SC around the globe. Another effort to measures the SC is the University Indonesia (UI) Green Metric that measure the 50 of SC performances around the globe voluntarily and the SDGs Impact Rankings from the Times Higher Education (THE) since 2015.
Finally, it is obvious that education and the sustainable campus function as the Agents of Change to propagate the correct values, behaviour and lifestyle needed in future sustainable development. Further, the integration of the three core-business in HEIs will provide a pool to inculcate innovative and creative thoughts among stakeholders to solve multifaceted environmental problems. The sustainable campus initiatives provide a good example on how an institution contributes comprehensively and concretely in sustainable development.
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