Spark Tank award for energy saving CSU students

Wednesday 29 Mar 2017

Charles Sturt University (CSU) has won an inaugural award for an energy saving initiative to be implemented in student residences across four campuses.

The CSU Bright Spark initiative won $10 000 in the 'Home Category' of the Spark Tank program funded by NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and run locally by the Skillset Environment team at the Flannery Centre, Bathurst.

Thirteen communities in the NSW Central West region lodged ideas to save energy with Spark Tank and pitched proposals to a panel of experts at the Flannery Centre on Thursday 16 March.

The CSU pitch was presented at the competition by CSU Green sustainability officer Ms Alesha Elbourne (second from left in photo), and student sustainability advisor Ms Kiara Blyth, from CSU in Orange.

"The pitch was a 'Shark Tank'-style pitch of our CSU Bright Spark idea in front of a panel of four judges, OEH and Skillset staff, Spark Tank finalists and their guests," Ms Elbourne said.

"We had a lot of fun with it, giving the judges shark face masks and interacting with the audience as we presented our plans to implement energy saving initiatives and events on campus to educate and inspire students in residences to engage with sustainability.

"The pitch centred on how the CSU Bright Sparks program will encourage students to lower energy use by: turning off lights in residences; recycle more; and reduce waste. The program engages students in events and initiatives, such as Move Out to donate non-perishable food to charity; the Energy Challenge competition to reduce power use; REScycle; tree planting days; and active transport activities.

"The sustainability advisors will do a combination of energy saving initiatives that have been run by CSU Green and Residence Life before and new ones that are campus specific.

"We pitched the whole concept of the sustainability advisor role and the initiatives they would run as a complete energy saving idea for the University."

Ms Elbourne said the CSU Bright Sparks initiative is an opportunity for the University's new student sustainability advisors in on-campus residences to embed energy and sustainability education at a peer-to-peer level.

"The Spark Tank $10 000 prize will help to support our sustainability advisors to roll-out the project in student residences at Albury-Wodonga, Bathurst, Orange, and Wagga Wagga to run sustainability initiatives and events," she said.

"Having the sustainability advisors in residences supports the University's efforts through the Learning in Future Environments (LiFE) program to embed sustainability throughout our whole organisation. It encourages our students to gain the skills required to be sustainability leaders and make a significant contribution to lowering the University's carbon footprint."

Ms Elbourne said this is the first intake of sustainability advisors, and the initiatives and events they undertake in 2017 will shape the future of the project.

"Sustainability advisors can have a significant impact in normalising strong sustainability practices because of their reach to 2 200 students in University residences in Albury-Wodonga, Bathurst, Orange and Wagga Wagga," Ms Elbourne said. "They also have the opportunity to engage off-campus students and staff at the University through broader sustainability events, initiatives and sustainability promotions."


Media contact: Bruce Andrews, (02) 6338 6084

Media Note:

Contact CSU Media to arrange interviews with Ms Alesha Elbourne from CSU Green. She is based at CSU in Bathurst.

Photo (left to right): Mr Peter McMillan (judge) from Regional Development Australia, Ms Alesha Elbourne (CSU Green), Ms Kiara Blyth (student sustainability advisor, CSU in Orange), and Ms Katie Shammas (judge) from the Office of Environment and Heritage.