Greening UCQ is UnitingCare Queensland’s internal sustainability program, which captures the multitude of initiatives we are implementing to reduce our impacts across energy, emissions, waste and water. Recent examples include:
Carbon footprint and energy
- 2017: LED lighting upgrades implemented at The Wesley and St Andrews War Memorial Hospital car parks, saving $50,000 and avoiding 252 tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) each year.
- 2017: $460,000 invested in a pilot project of energy conservation measures (ECMs), including 144 kW of installed solar PV. This is saving more than 270,000 kWh of electricity and $111,000 in operating costs each year.
- 2018: Following the success of the pilot, UnitingCare Queensland committed a further $3.5 million investment to scale the rollout of ECMs across our portfolio. This will reduce our environmental footprint by a further 1,615,000 kWh and 1,500 tCO2e annually by the end of FY20.
- UCQ has been gradually transforming its passenger fleet to smaller and more eco-friendly vehicles—in 2018, 40% of our fleet are hybrid vehicles, avoiding over 460,000 litres of fuel and 1,000 tCO2e per year.
- New recycling streams have been introduced at two of our hospitals—St Stephens and St Andrews War Memorial Hospital—which are now diverting PVC (e.g. IV bags) and compression stockings from landfill.
- Waste audits have been conducted at our largest hospitals, to understand our waste profile and identify improvement priorities and strategies.
- Large under-desk bins have been replaced with small desktop ‘eco bins’ at our group office, to encourage staff to rethink their waste and use central recycling bins.
- Activities (e.g. competitions, workshops, calls to action) to promote participation in awareness campaigns such as Earth Hour, World Environment Day, and National Recycling Week.
- UCQ Green Champions network encourages and provides support to staff to implement positive sustainability changes in their workplace.
- In 2018, UnitingCare Queensland introduced an internal Sustainability Leadership award, which recognises individuals and teams who have made a positive contribution to the organisation’s environmental sustainability efforts.
- The 2018 Greening UCQ survey asked our staff to share their experiences and ideas about sustainability in their workplaces; the results have helped us understand our current level of staff engagement in sustainability, and will shape our 2018 – 2020 environmental action plan.
Leadership and advocacy
UnitingCare Queensland is actively engaged in advocacy and policy development on issues such as energy planning, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. We currently represent our client and community groups in advisory forums such as the Energy Queensland Customer Council, Queensland Health and Wellbeing Climate Adaptation Plan, and QCOSS Social Vulnerability and Climate Change. We are also passionate about knowledge sharing—we are sharing the lessons learned from our sustainability efforts at industry conferences, collaboration forums and in the tertiary sector.