Chapter 5: Sustainable higher education institutions: promoting a holistic approach
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The last decade has observed sustainability being a widely accepted and recognised concept, with growing public awareness and support for incorporating sustainable practices across various disciplines and industries. Sustainability in higher education institutions (HEIs) is no exception. Internationally, education for sustainability (EfS) underpinnings in curricula supported sustainable development across environmental, social, and economic dimensions. The UN Decade for Sustainability ended in 2015. Since then, the announcement of the SDGs from 2016–2030 have spurred renewed interest in sustainability education, particularly on SDG 4: Quality Education. Studies have discussed about investigating the awareness and perceptions of higher education students on sustainable development concepts, and the need to inculcate them with sustainability knowledge. The studies focusing on education for sustainability while using campuses as teaching tools for sustainability are limited. Such a drawback highlights a knowledge gap where teaching staff are not engaging with students to use campuses to link the theoretical underpinnings of sustainable development with practical applications. While HEIs have the potential to be used as a teaching space for sustainability, it is not common to see such examples in reality. Generally, little attention has been drawn to HEIs or academic buildings in the green building literature. Yet, green buildings on campus or green campuses themselves offer society not only examples of education in various fields, interlinking across various departments and disciplines, but also offer campuses as living labs for experimentation and pushing for best practice examples. This chapter uses secondary literature to focus on campus awareness about sustainability through all functions of a higher education institution. The chapter draws on relevant literature gaps and suggests a holistic approach to be adopted by HEIs in terms of managing indoor and outdoor spaces on campus while also using such institutions to push the boundaries for green building and green campus performance practices. A leadership model that brings a commitment to education and demonstrating these on campus where possible, while also engaging internal and external stakeholders in the process has been suggested.

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