Sustainability Guide

Conserve Our Resources

The Earth provides us natural resources
Give back to consume them sustainably



Even though it rains a lot in Hong Kong, healthy drinkable water is a scarce resource. You can always help:

  • Take shorter showers to save water. Even shortening a shower by 2 minutes can save up to 20 liters of water! You can sing anytime even out of shower.
  • Turn off the tap when you are brushing your teeth, or shaving and lathering.
  • Wash laundry with full loads. Washing a full load or a half load consumes the same amount of energy and water!
  • Report any leaking faucets or taps to the Campus Management Office as soon as possible. Call 2358 6500.
  • Willing to take the 5-minute shower challenge to reduce 11kg of carbon dioxide every year? 



Energy use is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, which are responsible for warming the planet, rising sea levels, and erratic weather patterns. Conserving energy can help fight climate change! What can you do?

  • Every action counts. Turn off all computers, lights and air conditioners that are not in use; even if you are only stepping out for a few minutes.
  • Do you know that electronic appliances continue to consume power even when they are in standby mode? Phone chargers do, even when devices are not plugged into them. You can use power strips with individual switches to switch off appliances when not in use.
  • Set your computer to go into "sleep mode" after 10 minutes of being inactive or less. Avoid using the screen saver – it might be pretty, but it is a huge power hog.
  • Alternate between using air conditioners and fans. Setting the thermostat at 25.5 degrees Celsius or higher makes a huge difference.
  • Enjoy the beautiful sunlight and natural ventilation as much as possible.
  • Free and easy way to stay healthy – take the stairs!
  • HKUST uses a centralized system to balance the cooling around the academic building to reduce energy consumption in off-peak hours. If you have any comments about the ventilation system or room temperatures, talk to the Campus Management Office. If you notice any rooms are too cold or too hot, let them know at 2358 6465.
  • You have a choice! Choose energy-efficient appliances and look for Energy Efficiency Label Grade One appliances.
  • To learn more how to save energy, visit EMSD Energy Land.
  • Check out our campus performance on energy consumption.


How much paper do we consume every day and how many new trees can we plant? Before printing, think about this:

  • Your document looks better even on electronic gadgets, and it saves trees to when you reduce printing.
  • Most printers can now print double-sided. Even better if you can choose 100% recycled or paper from sustainable sources using soya-based inks. Test your eyesight and print multiple pages on one sheet.
  • Do you see lot of waste paper around the printer? Just previewing your document well before pressing "print" can help a lot.
  • Always share with friends, not just laughter, but also lecture notes, printouts and textbooks. You may find exam tips there too.
  • Reduce your usage of paper towels in the washroom. Make good use of hand dryers and reusable hand towels.
  • Do you know how much paper we consume on campus? Click here to learn more


Waste Management

Try to count how much waste you produce everyday.
You will be amazed by how much you can save.



Reduce plastic waste

The best way to conserve valuable materials is to find ways to not use them in the first place.

  • Think twice before you buy: Do you really need it? Do you have enough storage? Will you regret it tomorrow?
  • Consumers are influential. You have a choice! Choose products with minimal packaging.
  • If you are not too hungry, why not ask for the "less rice" option? The main canteens on campus all offer this option with $1 discount, and it is cheaper too. You just have to ask.
  • Action plan to reduce plastic waste
    • Where is your reusable mug? Bring it with you for takeaway drinks! Most of the canteens offer $1 discount when you do this. Don't have a reusable mug? Buy one from the University's souvenir shop!
    • When buying takeaway food, if you bring along your own cutlery and lunch box our caterers will support your green action by offering $1 discount. Otherwise, there is $2 levy on requesting disposable takeaway container. 
    • HKUST has eliminated the sale of bottled water under 1 Litre. Say "no" to bottled water. Clean water is available for you on campus. Carry your own reusable drinking bottle and refill it from the drinking fountains (for free)


Reusing materials is another way to extend their value. If you are creative, you can often find ways to use things more than once. For example:

  • Reuse the back side of paper before you recycle it.
  • Open letters neatly so that the envelopes can be reused.
  • Dishwater is still fine for watering plants or cleaning.
  • Donate unwanted items to local charities (from your home, big events, student activities). If you live on campus, you can drop off clothes at one of the clothing recycling boxes (outside Hall 1 and Hall VI), or donate them through the Hall Check-Out Recycling Activity or sell them at our popular Garage Sale.
  • Share or exchange unwanted or unneeded items with friends, find them a new home! You may event organize your own Barter Trade event.


When items are no longer usable, they can still have a second life.

  • Separate your waste and recycle anything you can to reduce the waste.
  • Locate the recycling bin near your hall or home and recycle materials as part of your daily life.
  • See what can be recycled on HKUST campus:
  • Check out how much we recycle on campus.


Green Activities

Design your event creatively in a sustainable way



  • To manage your event more effectively, consider items on this Green Checklist.
  • Can you use paperless media for invitations and registrations? Really, no one reads the paper flyers anymore .Consider circulating event information via email and social media. If paper copies are essential, print on 100% recycled or sustainably-sourced paper, double-sided and use soya-based inks.
  • Design your promotional materials (e.g. banners) in a way that can be reused in the future by department or next cabinet of society, such as putting stickers on for year information.


  • If souvenirs are necessary, why not choose eco-friendly products? Gifts look good without wrapping, or perhaps you can wrap it with waste paper. Keep in mind that Non-woven polypropylene bags are non-recyclable.
  • Donate any untouched remaining food, souvenirs or other reusable items to a local charity. For example:
  • How about reusing or upcycling waste from your event in a creative way, such as making installation art, tote bags and pencil bags?
  • Always call CMO at 2358 6421 to provide recycling bins or stands to facilitate separation and recycling of waste at your event, and place additional signs to make sure everyone can see the containers.
  • Support social enterprises and use their products or services at your events, when appropriate. Refer to this handy list of social enterprises.


  • Consider ordering food and drinks in bulk to avoid excess packaging.
  • When you order food, ask for reusable cutlery, mugs and tableware to reduce disposable. If not, biodegradable cutlery can be an option.
  • Carefully estimate the amount of food required for any event. Support the principle of "zero food waste" and encourage participants to take home any leftover food. All the UST caterers are now joining the food waste recycling program.
  • Choose seafood from sustainable sources and please do not serve food containing shark fin or other shark products (poor sharks!) Use WWF-Hong Kong's Sustainable Seafood Guide to help with your menu planning.
  • To promote healthy dining, offer organic, low-carbon, fair-trade, or vegetarian food and drinks for your guests ? preferably all three!



  • Remember, excessive decorations don't add to the festivities and only create more work. Make it simple and share the joy with your participants.
  • Take care to avoid activities that can have harmful effects on the environment, like releasing balloons, playing games with food, using "snow spray" or water games.
  • Encourage your guests to take public transportation, and provide carpooling arrangements for guests.
  • Consider organizing a carbon-neutral event, or producing a carbon-neutral publication. Begin by calculating the carbon footprint of your event or publication, then try to reduce it as far as possible through green measures. Next offset the footprint entirely by buying carbon credits to support renewable energy projects. 
  • When you organize student activities, consider performing community service with social enterprises and green groups. These are great ways to bond with friends, have fun, and feel really good about yourself at the end.


Eat Green

Want to learn the stories behind your plate?

Three times a day you have a chance to make a big difference for the planet. Believe it or not, the food you choose may have a bigger impact than anything else you can do. Why not try some of the following?

  • Say "no" to food waste! Food waste doesn't just cost money; when you waste food all the land, water, energy and labor resources used to grow that food are also wasted. Plus, greenhouse gas emissions are produced by food decomposing in landfills and by the transport of food that is ultimately thrown away. So what can you do to stop food waste?
    • Order and buy the right amount of food, cherish every bite you eat.
    • When preparing food, make the most of all the ingredients.
    • Support food donation to charities. For more details, click here.
  • Support "Green Monday" and eat one or more vegetarian meal per week. Eat less meat, especially red meat, as more energy and water is used in the production of meat than of vegetables. The raising of beef cattle also produces a disproportionate amount of carbon emissions. Why not choose organic, low-carbon, local, seasonal and fairly-traded food products.
  • Bring your own water bottle and fill it at any of the drinking fountains located around the campus. Bring your own lunch box/coffee mug for takeaway meals and drinks. Some catering outlets offer you a discount when you do this!



Get Involved

What are you waiting for?
Act Now! Every action helps.

We need you! We have the opportunity to make HKUST the sustainability showcase of Hong Kong, but we can only succeed with your help. You can contribute in large and small ways, and every bit helps. Consider some of these easy actions:

  • Follow our Facebook page and Instagram (HKUST_Sustainability) to find inspiring green actions, activities and stay abreast of the latest news.
  • Join the Sustainable Campus Leadership Program to be a leader on designing and implementing your own green campus project.
  • Check for updates from the Sustainability Unit about internships, green student competitions & services available on our website.
  • Choose a research topic dealing with sustainability. Think about the impacts that your project might have on society: locally, regionally and globally.
  • Check out HKUST courses that are related to sustainability.
  • If you are a professor, consider integrating sustainability into your teaching courses. Check out our Teaching Resources for references.
  • Share your campus sustainability ideas or project initiatives with the Sustainability Unit. Ideas on energy conservation, waste management, renewable energy, water saving or student engagement are warmly welcomed. Or, form a student team and take action yourselves! Contact us.
  • Join the Green Team and initiate your own green activities to build a greener campus environment. 
  • Consider organizing an inter-hall green competition to promote energy saving, water conservation, waste reduction and recycling among your fellow student residents.
  • Join a Student Green Group and support their initiatives and activities.