UNSW Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer has earmarked sustainability as a priority for the University - in research, teaching and in the way the campus operates.
Professor Hilmer told a Climate Change forum for staff and students this week that universities were ideally placed to lead the way on sustainability.
He highlighted the establishment of UNSW's Climate Change Research Centre, with its critical mass of researchers addressing almost every aspect of climate change, as one of the initiatives that can influence policy on Australia's environmental management.
But universities such as UNSW must also manage their own environments more efficiently, he said.
With about 40,000 students and 5,000 staff UNSW is the size of a suburb. Professor Hilmer called on all staff and students to help manage that "suburb" in a bid to make UNSW the greenest campus in the southern hemisphere.
He announced targets of a two percent energy reduction for Equivalent Fulltime Student Unit (EFTSU) and a three percent reduction in potable water consumption per EFTSU.
About $700million over the next five years has been committed to major projects on campus that will have significant environmentally sustainable design components.
Environmental criteria will now be part of UNSW's tender process for any proposals over $100,000.
Staff and students suggested many other ways in which UNSW can reduce its environment footprint.