New ISCN Peer Review Program

A critically important component of developing campus sustainability programs, strategic plans and policies is the engagement and feedback of the institution's core constituents. Less frequently, however, do universities actively seek feedback from other higher education institutions in the form of a peer review process. ISCN members have a wealth of experience and knowledge from which other members would greatly benefit.

We are excited to announce that we are launching a new ISCN Peer Review Program for members. This program connects members who are developing sustainability strategic plans, policies, and programs with other ISCN colleagues for review and feedback. The aim is to improve the final product delivered, as well as add further credibility to the process of how the document was developed.

Please email us at [email protected] if you would like to participate in the program or volunteer to be a reviewer.

2022 Award winners: HKUST

This series features our 2022 Award winners. This month, we hear from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

What does it mean to you to win the award?

For over a decade the ISCN has been a valuable resource and melting pot for campuses across different geographic and cultural zones to share ideas and make outstanding connections. To win this award is both an honor to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology as well as a confirmation of our campus as a meaningful member of this society of sustainable campus leaders.  We are pleased that the judges recognized our unique campus as a living lab approach, where we combine “Sustainable” with “Smart” elements for funded projects. In addition, our approach recognizes the inherent gap between the theory of academic researchers and the practical hands-on skills of campus professional operations staff. The “Sustainable Smart Campus as a living lab” (SSC) model serves as the bridge between the two groups so the learning and experience gained is a two-way street.  We hope that by showcasing our approach to supporting sustainable and smart proof-of-concept projects, the award will open further doors for collaboration with other institutions around the world.

What’s next for the “Sustainable Smart Campus as a living lab” project?

The SSC has now been incorporated into our university’s new strategic plan 2021-208, so we have great confidence that this model will remain one of the top priorities of the HKUST for years to come. Going forward, support will be allocated through priority themes to ensure we are always encouraging our university community to be active contributors to our sustainability goals.  For example, coming out of the pandemic, we recognize that many students are struggling with stress and depression. With this in mind, one of our priority themes for funding and support is for projects that address well-being and wellness.  While we will continue to focus on broad "Grand Challenges" (e.g., net-zero GHG emissions, biodiversity, zero waste to the landfill) the targeted priority themes will allow us to adjust the program yearly to ensure we are meeting the needs of the campus community.

Do you have any advice for others starting on the living lab pathway? 

Do not underestimate the positive impact of the living lab pathway. Our program has opened the door for us to create exceptional collaboration between the research teams and our professional operations staff to tackle the campus challenges together. Through the program, we instil a culture of learning from failure and self-initiated changes which is a core value that allowed us to engage faculty and staff from different backgrounds to form interdisciplinary project teams and realize the opportunities to put ideas into action. As time goes by, we found that some faculty have a common ground of interest and their own expertise could leverage each other to create impactful projects reaching the same goal. The living lab concept is not only a platform for systemic funding and support, but a true spirit that lives within us to bring research and innovation to life.