Campus operations

Campus Infographic

Enlarge and download as a PDF | Source: UNSW Facilities Management

UNSW has appealing campus grounds that are planned, planted, and maintained with the local environment and ecology in mind. We protect and create wildlife habitat and conserve water and other natural resources.

Campus environment, biodiversity and open space are key components of UNSW's Environmental Management Plan.
See the EMP for a status report for 2017.

Grounds management

UNSW maintains approximately 120,000m² of landscaped areas and another 80,000m² of playing fields. The University recognises that the way these grounds are managed can have significant environmental impacts and employs several strategies to ensure they are managed in a sustainable way.

These strategies include:

  • choosing appropriate plants (i.e. planting native species that complement the soil and climactic conditions)
  • maintaining soil quality
  • minimising the use of chemical and fertiliser treatments
  • ensuring the responsible disposal of green waste.


UNSW is the proud caretaker of over 1,200 trees on the Kensington campus including several visually stunning 120-year-old Morton Bay and Port Jackson Fig trees. Our trees are managed through a tree database system and an interactive tree plan of the campus.

As well as providing a habitat for wildlife and contributing to a pleasing aesthetic, trees create a microclimate that can significantly reduce the ‘urban heat island effect’. This provides staff and students with a more comfortable campus environment and the temperature decreases can significantly reduce the amount of energy required to cool (and in some instances to heat) buildings.

Campus grounds sustainability initiatives

Native planting policy

UNSW’s planting policy is to promote local biodiversity. While the Kensington campus has some mature non-native trees, new plantings favour native plants and grasses, particularly species that are indigenous to the Randwick/Kensington area. These plants are suited to the local climactic conditions (reducing their watering requirements), and allow students to learn about bioregionalism. In 2017, 80% of trees on campus were noted as Australian native species.


UNSW continues to audit its landscape irrigation systems and has a contractual requirement in place for the grounds maintenance contractor to ensure optimum outcomes. Where irrigation is required, the preference is for drip irrigation rather than sprinkler systems, and all campus irrigation systems use bore water, rather than potable water. 

Healthy soil

UNSW has reduced its use of synthetic garden fertilisers and replaced these with slow-release organics wherever possible. This reduces potential run-off issues, improves the soil structure and reduces watering requirements.

UNSW has limited the use of pesticides on campus through modifications in grounds maintenance contracts. Low toxicity chemical solutions are still used for pest and weed control, but only as a last resort.


UNSW processes all tree prunings on site into mulch and woodchips to use in gardens across its campuses to reduce evaporation and conserve water. Approximately 600 cubic metres of mulch was applied to the landscaped environment in 2017.

Technology in the garden

Automatic watering systems, rain sensors and night-time watering regimes are in operation at UNSW. These industry-standard solutions are applied to 100% of the Kensington campus and have significantly reduced overwatering.

Reusing and recycling

UNSW’s campuses continue to evolve as we adapt facilities and landscapes to meet our changing needs. Surplus materials and equipment, such as old sandstone, paving bricks, outdoor furniture, plants, bike racks and bollards, are saved and stored on site by the UNSW grounds manager. This policy of reuse before recycling or disposal helps to minimise the waste from these adaptations and gives rise to the possibility of zero-purchase projects.