ANU has a long standing commitment to fostering green building practices. ANU was a founding member of the Green Building Council of Australia in 2002. In 2012 ANU developed Sustainability Specifications to guide the construction of all new buildings and retrofits.

There are over 150 buildings on the Acton campus, some of which were built before ANU was established in 1945. Many of the buildings on campus need significant refurbishment or maintenance work to reduce the environmental impact of their operations.


To adopt sustainable building practices as standard practice for all university building projects.


  • 100 per cent of major new buildings and refurbishments meet a sustainable building star rating1 by 2020

1 Building rating scheme to be determined eg NABERS or Green Star. Major building or refurbishment is defined as being greater than $3 million.


  • Incorporate sustainability initiatives into maintenance regimes and the construction of new buildings
  • Continue to adaptively reuse historical buildings
  • Implement the electricity efficiency reduction initiative - see the Energy section
  • Develop and implement training and awareness programs for building custodians, contractors, project managers, staff and students about the benefits of green buildings, and how to develop and manage them


Over the past thirteen years more than 20 new buildings and major refurbishments have incorporated green initiatives. These initiatives have included the College of Science Precinct, Lena Karmel Lodge, Jaeger 8 and 5, John Curtin School of Medical Research, and the Crawford extension to Old Canberra House. The University's most significant achievement has been the construction of the Frank Fenner Building, which in 2013 became the first six star Green Star rated As Built building in Australia.

ANU has also refurbished a number of historical buildings such as the old John Curtin school of Medical Research, creating considerable savings in embodied energy. Over the lifecycle of a building a significant proportion of its energy consumption occurs when the building is constructed (this is called embodied energy). Estimates suggest that embodied energy is equivalent to 15-37 years of operational energy, depending on building materials used and the total life of the building2.

2 Wallhagen eta al (2011) Basic building life cycle calculations to decrease contribution to climate change - case study on an office building in Sweden. Building and Environment, 46, 1863-1871.

Sustainability specifications

Across the construction sector Ecologically Sustainable Design (ESD) initiatives are often 'value managed' out of the design and construction process owing to cost. To ensure that ANU continues to lead the way when it comes to sustainable developments, the University has created and implemented a set of mandatory sustainability specifications (see ANU Sustainability Specifications Version 2.1 December 2012 under Reference documents).

The sustainability specifications have been developed in a number of categories that reflect different ESD elements such as:

  • management
  • IEQ - Health and Wellbeing
  • building envelope
  • energy systems
  • water
  • transport
  • materials
  • landscape
  • community

In creating these specifications, ANU has drawn on its internal expertise in sustainability, while also incorporating new research and expectations from global sustainability initiatives. Rather than competing with existing standards, the ANU Specifications incorporate and align with prominent sustainability benchmarking systems such as the Green Star rating scheme and the Australian Government's NABERS rating scheme.

The specifications set a base level for ESD performance only. In the delivery of projects, the University will encourage and support projects to go beyond these standards, achieve higher ESD performance and strive for world's best practice where possible.

Contractors and consultants planning to design and build at the ANU have to meet the sustainability standards set out in our Campus & Buildings Requirements Manual (CBRM). An example of such standards is that they have to meet BCA zone 7 requirements.


Visit projects for a list of current and completed projects.