Principle 1 * of the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN) covers the follows issues:

  • Electricity

    UCT introduced some digital web-based metering in 2011, and in 2014 made the decision to roll out metering to all buildings. This project has now been completed. Electrical energy-use reporting is available on the energy consumption page.

    Electrical equipment is continually being replaced with more efficient technologies. Solar water heaters have been installed to some small and medium residences. Energy-efficient heat pumps, which are more suitable for morning-peak demand, have been installed in larger residences.

    UCT is investigating other renewable energy technologies to save operational costs and to demonstrate environmental responsibility. The Department of Electrical Engineering has conducted research into photovoltaic panel installations on the roofs of some of the larger buildings on campus. Although the electricity generated will be small, the project will be a valuable teaching and research tool, as well as an opportunity to raise awareness of the need for sustainable energy production.

  • Water

    Water is an increasingly precious resource. The region is presently undergoing the harshest drought on record. The dams and reservoirs feeding the municipality are at record lows. In response, the UCT executive has formed a Water Task Team that raises awareness of water-related issues. UCT has already started several temporary water-reduction strategies.

    Permanent conservation measures include the promotion of behaviour change and the installation of water-efficient fittings. After extensive piloting, waterless urinals have also been retrofitted. The installation of digital water-metering technologies is under consideration.

    UCT has a storage dam on upper campus, which serves to irrigate some of the grounds. It is also a source of water for the emergency services for fire control.

    See the water crisis page on the Staff or Students websites.

    News articles related to the water crisis

  • Waste and recycling

    Source separation of waste began in earnest during 2008, driven by students in the departments of botany and zoology and working with Properties and Services.

    Recyclables and non-recyclables are collected on alternate days. Clear bags and green-lidded bins are for recyclables, and black bags and yellow-lidded bins are for non-recyclables. White-lidded bins are dedicated to the collection of white office paper for recycling.

    Food waste is now being separated in some residences and sent to a composting facility.

    As with any other research-intensive university, UCT generates small quantities of a wide range of hazardous waste materials. These are closely monitored. UCT does recover some solvent waste and oils.

    UCT has an e-waste service (e-waste is any item that contains electronic or electrical components) that is currently removing approximately 10 metric tonnes annually for reuse/recycling.

    UCT collects used fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) for safe disposal, as well as printer cartridges and certain unused plastic-ware from the laboratories for recycling.

  • Greener buildings

    In June 2012, UCT’s Council took the formal decision that all new buildings are to be designed and constructed to meet a minimum 4-star Green Star SA certification for green buildings from the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA). This allows for independent third party audit and assurance of the green building design and construction measures that align with international best practice standards for green buildings. For other smaller projects general green building principles and standards are applied, but Green Star certification is not sought.

    The New Lecture Theatre, which was completed in 2016, was the first green building to achieve this rating (4 Star). It incorporated various green building features, including being more energy and water efficient compared to South African standards, using recycled aggregate in the concrete. It includes rainwater harvesting, where the water is held in tanks below the building and is used for flushing toilets. For a short case study on the various Green Star certified projects, refer to the links on each of the building names listed here.

    Since then a number of other green buildings have been built by UCT, including the GSB Conference Centre (4 Star), Avenue Road Residence (4 Star) and the School of Education (4 Star).

    New Lecture Theatre

    UCT’s New Lecture Theatre
    Download the green features PDF for UCT’s Avenue Road Student Residence and Dining Hall.


* Principle 1: To demonstrate respect for nature and society, sustainability considerations should be an integral part of planning, construction, renovation, and operation of buildings on campus.

Green Building Council of South Africa

Green Building Council South Africa Member 2022

UCT is a member of the Green Building Council of South Africa. The GBCSA works in collaboration with its membership community, sponsors and extended network of professionals to inspire a built environment in which people and planet thrive. We advocate solutions and tools that enable the design, construction and operation of all buildings in an environmentally responsible way.

View membership certificate.