VII. Sustainability

VII. Sustainability

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Strategic Theme VII. Sustainability

University Strategic Plan 2022-2025

Acting Responsibly and Protecting our Future

'Sustainability' is one of the Strategic Themes of the Strategic Plan 2020-2025, which sets out the goals and priorities for the University, its faculties, departments, centres, institutes and schools.

The University of Malta is committed to delivering on sustainability reflecting the principles of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainability considerations will be mainstreamed across all functions including administration, teaching and research, and will be facilitated by a dedicated committee reporting directly to the Rector. Strategy, guidelines, assessment, data infrastructure, projects management, communication, awareness, training, teaching, research and outreach will be stepped up with a view to making the University a living laboratory of good sustainable practice.

Main Commitments 2020-2025: Sustainability 


   Main Commitments

   Activity Plan

  • Apply sustainability assessment tools in new construction and upgrading of buildings and infrastructure
  • Integrate open spaces and shift parking areas to expand green reading and meeting spaces for students and staff
  • Allow space usage flexibility in new buildings, extensions and refurbishment projects
  • Follow green procurement and use of low impact materials
  • Adopt design for deconstruction, reduction, reuse and recycling of construction, demolition and excavation waste, and the use of recycled materials in construction
  • Develop policy, guidelines, targets, infrastructure, measures, communication and enforcement to reduce, separate and safely dispose of waste
  • Improve procurement of all goods and services to encourage sustainable sourcing, emphasising producer responsibility
  • Design an inventory application for shared use, re-use and recovery of resources
  • Eliminate single-use plastic in catering
  • Reduce paper in forms, learning materials and assessments through digitisation
  • Pursue energy efficiency in air-conditioning systems
  • Promote active and passive measures for the reduction of energy consumption
  • Increase buildings with primary energy consumption values below nearly-zero-energy building targets
  • Retrofit older buildings with smart energy management systems
  • Change University car fleet to electric vehicles
  • Continue with additional carbon emission reduction initiatives
  • Improve water catchment and storage with large reservoirs in new buildings
  • Widen use of smart systems for water conservation
  • Extend wastewater recycling and infrastructure for secondary applications
  • Embark on a communication campaign to promote water conservation
  • Extend the network of drinking fountains on campus
  • Complete water consumption reduction actions in laboratories and buildings
  • Incentivise active travel and disincentivise car travel in the Green Travel Plan
  • Implement safe-cycling and walking paths on public roads
  • Introduce a dedicated on-demand bus service
  • Develop a parking monitoring system to support a parking management plan
  • Participate in the European Mobility Week with car-free day events
  • Enhance sustainability interest among academic and support staff and students, promoting equity on Campus
  • Promote and expand existing courses which focus on sustainability
  • Encourage interdisciplinary teaching and research on environmental, social and economic sustainability issues
  • Encourage sustainability issues as learning outcomes of more study-units
  • Introduce academic mentorship, by pairing senior and junior academics
  • Encourage availability of healthy food at outlets on campus
  • Promote health and fitness through improved infrastructure, events and sports
  • Consolidate ‘tobacco-free’ policies on campus
  • Promote work-life management programme and flexible hours for all employees

 Developing Sustainable Land and Buildings  

The Msida Campus consists of a number of buildings surrounded by open and green spaces, with about 33% of the campus area within the ring road being built up. The green and open spaces are beneficial to the campus community. The Msida Campus green wooded areas require continuous management which can be facilitated by setting up a tree database. The sustainability of these areas can be enhanced by the planting of indigenous trees and possibly promoting green enterprise, as in the case of olive trees, if and where feasible. Since the various green spaces are at different levels, the accessibility of all spaces poses a challenge. Parking occupies 47% of the total land area of the Msida Campus, excluding green wooded areas, with traffic and parking demands exerting pressure on the land resource on campus. Considering the large share of the land resource used as road and parking infrastructure, the latter requires better management.   Whilst the campus enjoys open spaces and green areas, there has been an increasing demand for space, resulting in the take-up of space for new buildings and the construction of additional floors on existing buildings. Sustainability Assessment Tools need to be used in new construction and in the upgrading of buildings and infrastructure. Construction works generate large volumes of demolition and excavation waste which need to be addressed through innovative practice. Because of the increasing demand for space, ongoing works for new construction, extensions to buildings and refurbishment works result in ongoing permanent works in different parts of campus, presenting challenges in the management of these spaces.    The increasing demand for space within and outside buildings needs to be addressed, possibly also through alternative working practices. While the need for adaptability and flexibility in the use of space is essential to meet the future needs of the University, including design for deconstruction, it is necessary to enable the selective dismantlement of building components for reuse and recycling. At the same time, existing buildings can be exploited as a living laboratory for research on the evaluation of interventions and assessment of performance.

Reducing, Reusing and Recycling Waste  

While procedures are in place for some streams of waste, such as IT equipment and chemical waste, the University will work on developing a clear policy for waste management accompanied by targets for paper, plastic, organic, metals, electronic, hazardous, construction and demolition waste. It should include a multi-faceted approach involving the development of procedures and guidelines, the provision of infrastructure, as well as communication and incentives or disincentives, and enforcement, so as to achieve reduction, separation and safe disposal of all streams of solid waste. Procurement of sustainably sourced materials, clarity of waste management obligations in contracts and improved inventorying with a view to assisting the shared use, re-use or recovery of resources such as furniture, within the campus are also important measures.

In terms of specific waste streams, paper use reduction is emphasised for assessment, given the large quantities generated, and the potential to digitise further (assignments, multiple choice exams) while recognising that VLE and AIMS have already contributed to this effect. The elimination of single-use plastic in catering and in documentation for assessments, the potential for composting of organic waste and the safe storage of construction waste are also important. Where relevant, the introduction of such measures will be carried out through pilot projects or research, whilst regular data collection would provide the necessary evidence on progress.

Extending Energy Efficient Measures  

Various energy efficiency measures and renewable energy initiatives have been implemented on the campuses and at Junior College over the past few years. These include the installation of a solar power park for renewable energy generation, the shift to energy efficient light fittings, replacing fluorescent tubes and halogen and sodium floodlights, and the installation of centralised smart air conditioning systems with ethernet control. These various initiatives have led to a reduction of the carbon footprint of the University of nearly 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions saved annually, with annual grid energy consumption for the years 2015 to 2018 inclusive below 2014 grid consumption. A number of buildings on campus have a primary energy consumption which is below national targets for non-residential nearly-zero energy buildings.

The carbon-emission reduction programme needs to be sustained over the coming years, with emphasis on the continuing investment in centralised, efficient air conditioning systems having capillary control capabilities to replace stand-alone air conditioners, the use of passive measures to reduce further the energy consumption needs of buildings, installation of photovoltaic systems on new buildings, and the use of presence and light sensors for more efficient energy management.

We will draw up a plan following a close examination of the retrofitting of older buildings with smart building management systems, and we will aim to focus on sourcing the necessary funding, for the sustainable refurbishment and renovation of older buildings on campus. This will enable additional buildings to have primary energy consumption values below nearly-zero energy building targets.

Conserving Water and Reducing Consumption  

Water is an important resource in Malta and water conservation presents a crucial challenge. An effective water catchment system exists on campus with a significant network of reservoirs for its storage. Second class water stored in the reservoirs is used for irrigation and water collected in reservoirs in new buildings is used for flushing in toilets. Various drinking fountains have also been installed throughout campus. Nevertheless, we will attempt to improve water catchment systems including water collection in reservoirs and its reuse and recycling, which are required in specific areas where water collection in reservoirs is not so effective.

Moreover, whilst the increased awareness on resource conservation has led to improvements in water and energy use in most buildings on campus, we will work toward reducing further water consumption wherever possible and promote water conservation through education campaigns. Smart systems for the conservation of water can be adopted further where possible. Water wastage on campus, including laboratories, can be addressed and the infrastructure for the use of grey water for secondary applications should be extended. We will consider the possibility of investing in a wastewater recycle plant for the campus, with the extracted water being used for irrigation on the campus grounds.

Encouraging Sustainable Transport Measures  

The University adopted the first ever Green Travel Plan in Malta in 2011. Since then, it has implemented several initiatives related to green travel to the Msida Campus. The limitation on the number of parking spaces introduced in the 2006 Local Plan acts as a very strong deterrent to increased car use to and from the campus. With effective parking management being a top priority, this can be achieved through a monitoring programme that will provide the necessary information on parking demand at the Msida Campus, followed by the development of a plan for better management of parking on campus, which might include the use of financial disincentives, based on pay-as-you-go principles.

The Msida Campus benefits from direct public transport links to all towns and villages and direct and express links to the Marsa and Pembroke Park and Ride areas. We will continue to encourage the growing community of walkers and bicycle riders, as well as seek to improve the facilities outside and inside the campus. A pedestrianised lane on the ring-road is a much needed investment to improve safety and access within the campus. We will aim to consider the development of safe walking and cycling routes to and from the campus, which would be proposed to government. Dedicated on-demand transport would support a modal shift, and the use of smartphone technology will facilitate such monitoring, and green travel would support the University’s overall objectives. The University will consider participating in the European Mobility Week with car-free day events.

Delivering Training and Research on Sustainability  

The University has pockets of strength in teaching and research on sustainability practices in a number of Institutes and Departments. The Kunsill Studenti Universitarji and other student bodies are active participants, as are many academics, who consult or work with government entities and non-governmental organisations to promote sustainability practices.    Nonetheless, there is a broad spectrum need for educating and training individuals, not only students and academics but also the auxiliary support staff. We will encourage a review of sustainability study-units on offer to fill gaps in knowledge. Consideration needs to be given to mainstreaming sustainable practices into programmes, whereby sustainability should be one of the learning outcomes of courses. To this effect, students should be given access to more electives in programmes of study outside their registered faculty to promote the take-up of sustainability-related study-units. Joint projects between individuals from different disciplines should be encouraged. General courses on the appreciation of local wildlife and flora and sustainable practices should also be introduced.

Promoting Healthy Living Practices  

The University will promote increased availability of a wider range of healthy food at all outlets on campus. This needs to be accompanied by an effective awareness campaign of the dependence of health on food intake. On the fitness side, besides the improved fitness that results for those coming to University on foot or by cycling, more promotion is needed to encourage a healthier lifestyle through exercise and sports. This requires improved fitness infrastructures on campus and the promotion of organised sports events held on a regular semester basis. The University will also consolidate ‘tobacco-free’ policies on campus.

A further contribution to healthy living that can be facilitated by the University is to provide appropriate training on work-life management programmes for its staff. Additionally, the wider provision of flexible working hours for all University employees will further enhance healthy living.


Strategic plan: sustainability information graphic without text