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The Australian National University

ANU Sustainability walking tour

Chocolate lilies at Old Canberra House

The ANU walks app exhibits some of the best examples of the natural environment on campus, as well as energy, water and waste efficiency and innovation.

The app contains images and detailed descriptions, as well as a map to help plan your walks around ANU. Put on your sensible shoes and start exploring the campus.

Download ANU Walks from the iTunes store and ANU Walks from Google Play to have ANU Sustainability walking tours at your fingertips.

Tour outline

1. Concessions and Student Facilities Building

Solar photovoltaic panels on the ANU Concessions and Student Facilities Building

In 2011, solar photovoltaic panels were installed on the roof of the ANU Concessions and Student Facilities Building. This has resulted in over 21,000 kWh of renewable energy generation and a reduction of approximately 15 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

The Concessions Building was chosen because of its central and highly-visible location on campus which was intended to generate community awareness of sustainability initiatives and the benefits of renewable energy.

2. Union Court Water Refill Station

Union Court Water Refill Station

Did you know that as much as 200mL of oil and three litres of water are required to produce one litre of bottled water?

A number of filtered water refill stations have been installed across campus. The stations are located on North, Willows, Fellows and South Ovals, as well as in Union Court and the Colleges of Science precinct. They eliminate the need for staff and students to buy bottled water, thus reducing waste to landfill and energy and emissions from transport and storage of bottled water.

Australian tap water is some of the cleanest in the world and studies have shown that it is often of higher quality than bottled water. Plus, bottled water is more expensive than petrol. Why buy when you can refill for free?

See the map of all bubbler locations on campus.

3. Unicycles

Unicycles available for hire and purchase at Union Court

Unicycles is a conveniently located and friendly bicycle shop providing good quality, affordable, new and second hand bikes to students and staff.

Cycling to campus is an attractive commuting option for many staff and students. The campus is centrally located and well serviced by bicycle paths in all directions and active transport provides the opportunity to include exercise and recreation while commuting. The University has constructed bicycle enclosures across the campus in teaching, research and student accommodation areas. The campus now has more than 35 enclosures with enough storage space for more than 2,000 bikes. This is in addition to the outdoor bicycle hoops outside every campus building.

Cyclying around campus

In order to encourage greater use of bicycles, ANUgreen has established Australia's largest corporate bicycle fleet, the Timely Tredlies.

The Timely Tredlies program has over 100 bikes located in departments across ANU. The process for booking a bike is similar to the booking process for a fleet vehicle. Participating areas are equipped with a new, good quality mountain bike, helmet, secure D-lock, bike pump, puncture repair kit, pannier and rack, cycle computer and trouser clips.

Contact your local administrator to find out if a bike is available for staff and postgraduate students in your area. If not, request one by contacting

Be bike smart - ride safely

  • Protect your grey matter by always wearing a helmet.
  • Always secure your bike with a thick cable or D-lock.
  • Use front and rear lights at night.
  • Share the path with other users.

Discounted helmets, locks and lights can be purchased from Innovations Building front desk.

4. Lena Karmel Lodge

Lena Karmel Lodge

The Lena Karmel Unilodge building won a 2013 ACT Sustainable Cities Award in the commercial category. It was built with a number of measures to maximise energy efficiency. For instance, while air conditioners were required to be installed in each dwelling, the architects integrated natural ventilation as an effective way of delivering thermal comfort and reducing reliance on the mechanical plant. This allows residents to open the manually operable windows when outside conditions are favourable. Energy saving devices and sensors deactivate the air conditioning when the windows are open or if the rooms are unoccupied.

A dashboard communication system located in the common area displays real-time consumption data for electricity, gas and water. A reward scheme for the best performing wing and floor was put into place to encourage residents to minimise energy and water consumption and costs. The building also features a rooftop community garden. Raised beds planted with Australian natives as well as food crops supplement the diet of residents with fresh produce while presenting information on the benefits of local food production.

Other initiatives include on-site photovoltaic panels, highly efficient zone-controlled lighting in common areas and rainwater harvesting for toilet flushing.

5. The Food Co-op

The Food Co-op

The Food Co-op Shop sells local, organic produce to the ACT community. The Co-op is largely run by volunteers and people who sign up for membership can receive significant discounts by volunteering their time. The Co-op serves affordable organic, vegetarian lunches three days per week, and every month hosts Acoustic Soup, a dinner event with local entertainment.

The Co-op is also a great community resource and frequently hosts meetings and events for a number of environmental groups. The ANU Environment Collective holds regular meetings at the Co-op.

The Dirty Beanstalk is the Food Co-op's gardening action and educational group. The group began with the move into the Lena Karmel Lodge at the beginning of 2012. UniLodge offered the Food Co-op a bed from the rooftop garden to grow its own produce, and since then the group has provided delicious fresh produce to the Co-op.

6. Willows Oval

Willows Oval

The grass on Willows Oval was converted into synthetic turf in 2010 with tanks installed underneath the playing surface to harvest stormwater for surrounding landscape irrigation. This conversion eliminated the need for irrigation, thus reducing potable water use by 15 million litres annually. The synthetic turf also reduces maintenance costs and chemical and fertiliser runoff into Sullivans Creek.

Selected as one of thirteen projects throughout Australia, ANU was awarded Green Precincts funding from the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities to become a demonstration site for water and energy saving measures through community engagement.

In addition to the Willow's Oval conversion and the underground tank enabling subsurface storm water harvest, other water related projects in the Green Precinct included an extension of treated effluent systems for irrigation of University Avenue and Fellows Oval and a couch grass conversion of Fellows Oval. Together, these projects represent an average annual savings of 39ML of potable water. These initiatives also enabled the removal of potable water from landscape irrigation over a large area of the campus.

ANUgreen aims to remove potable water from use in landscape irrigation. To this end, the following practices have been adopted:

  • Choosing species with a high tolerance to drought.
  • Using soil conditioners to encourage micro-organisms and improve soil structure, thereby improving water infiltration and reducing the need for irrigation.

7. College of Science Precinct

College of Science Precinct

The Colleges of Science Precinct was designed to showcase the University's leading role in the academic community in Australia and worldwide in developing best practice sustainable education facilities.

Sustainable design features that have been incorporated into the precinct include:

  • High performance window glazing
  • Adaptive air conditioning in offices
  • A central plant to service the precinct
  • A black water recycling plant
  • Rainwater collection and reuse
  • Solar domestic hot water
  • Manifolded fume cupboards with heat recovery
  • Reuse of existing buildings
  • Cyclist shower and bicycle storage facilities
  • Automatic lighting control systems
  • Building automation system
College of Science Precinct at night (photo: Ben Wrigley)

The use of a central plant facility offers more efficient operation than providing heating and cooling on a building by building basis. It also allows for additional strategies such as chilled water storage, cogeneration and even trigeneration to be considered, none of which are economical on a building by building basis.

Recycled water is used for flushing all toilets in the Colleges of Science and for all landscape irrigation. Rainwater has replaced potable water for laboratory experiments which requires less treatment than tap water.

The ambient conditions at night in Canberra mean that for much of the winter and shoulder seasons, the cooling towers are able to precool the water in the chilled water storage tanks and for much of winter can actually achieve the required storage temperature without using the chillers. As there is a demand for cooling year round, this results in significant savings in energy and operational costs.

8. Bruce Hall

Bruce Hall

Bruce Hall celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011 and is one of the oldest halls of residence on campus. The hall provides accommodation for 330 residents including students from over 30 countries around the world.

The Sustainability Learning Community (SLC) coordinator resides at Bruce Hall. The SLC seeks to educate and engage students about sustainability initiatives on campus and to promote sustainable lifestyles. The SLC Coordinator is responsible for organising events with the halls and colleges including the Great Green Debate and the interhall green committee. Each campus residence has a student Green Rep responsible for raising awareness about environmental sustainability amongst residents through campaigns, competitions and events.

Bruce Hall residents are equipped with reusable Keep Cups for hot drinks in order to reduce the use of disposable paper cups and rooms are equipped with small recycling bins.

Bruce Hall, like many campus residences, has a student vegetable garden which provides fresh produce for catered students. Anyone interested can work in the garden and learn about sustainable and organic gardening. In the area of catering, staff work hard to source as much produce as possible from local sources which drastically decreases carbon emissions from transportation.

9. ANU Apiculture Society Beehives

ANU Apiculture Society Beehives

The links between bees and sustainability are many. Bees are a normal part of healthy ecosystems and they are vital to human society as a major pollinator of agricultural crops. Bees also offer a great interdisciplinary lens through which to view the world.

The ANU Apiculture Society was established to promote student scholarship on bees and to encourage students to engage with campus sustainability. The hives are managed by the ANU Apiculture Society and provide an opportunity for students to get involved in a practical project and to learn more about bees while producing delicious honey along the way!

Visit the Facebook page to learn more about the ANU Apiculture Society.

10. Dickson Road Wetlands

Dickson Road Wetlands

In 2009, the Dickson Road wetlands were converted from a weed infested plot of land into an artificial wetland and frog habitat supporting a wide range of native wildlife. Perhaps the most notable feature of the area is the majestic old Apple Box (Eucalyptus bridgesiana) tree which has been shading the surrounds since the 1750s. The Laurus Wing of Ursula Hall was designed specifically with preservation of this notable tree in mind.

The wetland employs Water Sensitive Urban Design principles through capturing water runoff from Black Mountain and reducing sediment load into Lake Burley Griffin. Importantly, the wetland has become established as a high value biodiversity area, due to extensive native vegetation and other biodiversity features.

The ANU campus retains some of the most significant undeveloped lands adjacent to urban Canberra. ANU enjoys close proximity to important ecological areas such as Black Mountain, the Australian National Botanic Gardens and Lake Burley Griffin. This proximity allows fauna and flora to use the campus as a stepping stone for passing through to these and other important ecological areas, while the campus landscape serves as a buffer zone to the core habitat of Black Mountain. In addition, the campus landscape is a valuable resource that supports resident and migratory flora and fauna and also provides important recreational and educational opportunities for staff and students and the wider Canberra community.

Biodiversity is alive and well at ANU. Around the campus you will find:

  • Around one-hundred species of birds including the threatened gang-gang cockatoo.
  • Many mammals including the brushtail possum, the ring-tailed possum, sugar gliders, bats, echidnas and native water rats.
  • Amphibians such as the common eastern froglet, plains froglet, eastern banjo frog, striped marsh frog, spotted grass frog, Peron's tree frog and the whistling tree frog.
  • Reptiles such as delicate skinks, three-toed skinks and eastern water dragons.

There are many opportunities to participate in seasonal audits of our campus wildlife. Contact ANUgreen for more information.

11. The Fenner School

The Fenner School

The new Frank Fenner Building was officially opened in 2011 by the ACT Chief Minister Ms Katy Gallagher. The building was named in honour of Professor Frank Fenner, the first director of the Centre for Resources and Environmental Studies (CRES). It was designed to achieve a 6 Star Green Star rating.

The building houses the Fenner School of Environment and Society, a world-class and nationally distinctive school that cuts across the traditional disciplinary divides between the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences. The project was supported by the ACT Government and part-funded under the Australian Federal Government's "Better Universities Renewal Fund".

The building achieves impressive energy and water reductions through a range of initiatives including:

  • A solar photovoltaic array
  • A hybrid active chilled beam air-conditioning system
  • Rainwater collection tanks
  • Connection to the University's black water treatment system
  • Connection to the University's central plant for all heating and cooling requirements
  • A wetland designed to support biodiversity and collect storm-water run-off

The Frank Fenner Building was awarded a 6 Star Green Star rating, for Design and As Built under Green Star - Education, which is commensurate with "World Leader" in sustainability.

12. Sullivans Creek

Sullivans Creek

The local Indigenous Australians used Sullivans Creek and the adjoining Molongo River as a source of freshwater and edible plants and animals including various roots and yams, freshwater fish (particularly Murray Cod), reptiles, birds, insects (such as the Bogong moths, valued for their rich fat) and mammals (wallaby, kangaroo, and possums).

Today the creek is home to native plants and animals such as casuarinas and water rats. As you walk downstream, you will pass Middle Pond, an area which supports many aquatic plants such as rushes and reeds in addition to being the primary site for amphibian breeding on the Acton campus.

Drains outside of buildngs flow straight to Sullivans Creek

Students frequently conduct scientific projects around the creek because of its biodiversity values. As you walk along, listen and look for the various birds around campus including Australian magpies, Australian wood ducks, black swans, pied currawongs and eastern rosellas. In 2012, a platypus was even spotted in Sullivans Creek! This area is a perfect spot to find a peaceful moment between lectures under a shady tree.

ANUgreen aims to minimise pollution into the campus landscape, particularly into Sullivans Creek and Lake Burley Griffin. All drains outside of buildings are stormwater drains that flow directly to Sullivans Creek without any treatment. It is illegal to put any pollutants down these drains and on-the-spot fines apply. Across campus, ANUgreen has placed frog signs next to the drains which stress the importance of biodiversity and encourage people not to dump anything down the drains to Sullivans Creek.

If you continue to follow Sullivans Creek downstream, you will arrive on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.

13. John Curtin School of Medical Research

John Curtin School of Medical Research

The John Curtin School of Medical Research building is one of the most efficient research facilities on campus. Because laboratories have precise needs in terms of heating and cooling, the building is divided into three distinct parts in relation to their heating and cooling requirements: administrative and office areas, public areas (cafe, lecture theatres etc.) and labs.

The stairs at the front of the building are designed to take 1.5 steps to walk over so that users will pause and think while walking. Additionally, an innovative tunnel winding under the stairs uses the thermal mass of the stairs to cool the air in summer and heat the air in winter before it enters the building, thus decreasing energy costs.

The windows use a traffic light system to indicate to building users when conditions outside are favorable to open windows or if they should remain shut, with green indicating windows should be opened and red indicating they should remain closed.

The building won an ACT NoWaste Gold Award for its waste minimisation practices during its construction. The waste management strategy saw 76.97% (1728.65 tonnes) of the waste generated by the project diverted from landfill.

The building is also an example of heritage reuse, with the old John Curtin School of Medical Research building being turned into administrative offices and lab space for the new John Curtin School.

14. South Oval - Recycling Station

South Oval - Recycling Station

Waste and recycling bins are located across campus. This station provided the first public access recycling bins available in Canberra. Recycling stations include images of what can be placed in each bin to assist students, staff, and visitors to sort their rubbish properly.

You can help to divert waste from landfill at ANU by recycling these items in the appropriate locations:

  • Plastic, cans, cardboard, cartons and glass » bins with yellow lids
  • Mobile phones » boxes located at each library and Innovations Building (#124)
  • Batteries » boxes located at each library and Innovations Building (#124)
  • Organic waste » bins in select areas
  • Toner cartridges » arrange for collection via or Close the Loop
  • E-waste » collection services through Facilities and Services Division
  • Paper and cardboard » blue bins for paper in every building and bins for cardboard next to each building

Find out more about recycling on campus on the Recycling and Waste webpages or contact the recycling team at

15. Jaeger 8 - Research School of Earth Sciences

Jaeger 8 - Research School of Earth Sciences

Jaeger 8 was completed in 2011 and was designed to achieve a 5 Star Green Star energy rating. The building is well insulated, has a high thermal mass and the windows and sun screening are designed to provide maximum daylight, while minimising direct penetration of sunlight during summer months to keep out excess heat. The building form, fabric and structure assist with the passive mechanical heating and cooling system. The innovative cooling system utilises stored rain water and basement rock storage provides cooled air to the upper levels via thermal stacks.

Each office has individual temperature control and natural ventilation through operable windows. Some windows are controlled via sensors to allow night purging of the building. Doors and windows are double glazed and energy efficient lighting is used.

Jaeger 8 is next to the Old Hospital Building, part of the original Canberra Community Hospital. Brickwork from the original building was recovered and reused in the facade of the new building, thereby minimising resource waste and retaining a prominent reminder of the history and heritage values of the site.

There are a number of highly rated and exceptional trees adjacent to the site. These are predominately conifer and eucalypt species, including a Charles Weston planting from the 1930s. Weston was the first city parks superintendent who undertook much of Canberra's early tree planting.

The building is also a great example of utilising the campus as a classroom for teaching sustainability. The rocks outside on the mulch were sourced from many locations across Australia and are used as a teaching tool.

16. Sir Roland Wilson Building

Sir Roland Wilson Building

One of the best and most successful examples of a planted landscape that provides habitat and encourages biodiversity is the sparse area around and behind the Sir Roland Wilson building. This landscape is an excellent example of deliberately planted endemic grassland and bush. Unlike other landscapes on the ANU campus, this area remains relatively undeveloped, allowing plants the opportunity to grow as they once did in the Acton area.

Each office has individual temperature control and natural ventilation through operable windows. Some windows are controlled via sensors to allow night purging of the building. Doors and windows are double glazed and energy efficient lighting is used.

ANU landscaping practices have shifted in recent years to promote more native and drought-resistant vegetation which also serves to decrease the amount of potable water required in campus irrigation.

17. Old Canberra House Grassy Woodlands

Grassy Woodlands

Commonly referred to as the box gum grassy woodlands, this ecological community is listed as threatened and is protected by both national and territory legislation. Today only 5% of this type of ecological community remains in isolated patches across the country.

Native flora and fauna

The area is the most biodiverse zone on the ANU campus with more than 100 species of plants and animals recorded including protected plant species such as the Hoary Sunray and the Chocolate Lily. Spring and summer is the best time to visit when most of the flowers are in bloom.


The surrounding land including the bushland around Black Mountain and Sullivans Creek was part of an important resource corridor for Indigenous groups. Following European settlement, this area was grazed by pastoralists. When Old Canberra House became the residence for the Administrator of the Federal Capital Territory in 1913, it became part of the household garden and its high profile helped to conserve the area.

Conservation & management

Due to historical land use practices this ecological community has been split up into five remnant patches. The main conservation aim is to reconnect and extend these patches to rehabilitate and increase site resilience.

This area is under ongoing threats from weeds and pests, including Chilean needle grass and rabbits. Weed and pest management is a core strategy in the work of ANU Gardens & Grounds and ANUgreen in order to conserve and rehabilitate this precious ecological community.

18. The Sustainability Learning Community Organic Garden

The Sustainability Learning Community Organic Garden

The SLC Organic Garden was established in 2006 by students and staff to foster a sense of community amongst participants while offering a creative and relaxing space on campus.

This community garden is maintained by volunteers and provides opportunities for hands-on interdisciplinary educational experiences and acts as a living laboratory for student projects. The idea of "learning through teaching" is demonstrated in the garden, where we believe that everyone has their own valuable insights into the project.

Organic gardening and permaculture principles are applied to the management of the garden, including the use of compost sourced from the ANU campus. Compost materials come from a variety of sources on campus, including green waste from the landscape and food scraps from campus cafes and residence halls.

The garden now boasts multiple vegetable plots, an herb garden, a small orchard, a compost heap, a berry patch, an edible natives bed, a garden shed, an enclosed chicken coop and a wood fired pizza oven. It also hosts the Terra Preta Project which is a trial of a composting system using traditional methods from the Amazon Basin.

See the garden's website and Facebook page for more information or to get involved.

Next to the garden are The Recyclery and The Canberra Environment Centre. The Recyclery is a not-for-profit enterprise that provides affordable second-hand bikes to students and offers employment opportunities for locals residents with disabilities. The Canberra Environment Centre is an NGO providing education and information on sustainable practices and lifestyles to residents of the ACT.

Updated:  26 July 2016/Responsible Officer:  Director, Facilities & Services Division/Page Contact:  Systems & Information Technology