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2015 TropEco Award winners

2015 TropEco Sustainability Awards


  • The Green Bike Fleet Program

JCU’s innovative Green Bike Fleet Program has restored over 260 abandoned and unwanted bikes at the Townsville campus since August 2013. A collaboration between the International Office, JCU BUG and TropEco, the program received funding through the Action for Sustainability Fund in 2013.

The Green Bike Fleet program is extremely popular with JCU students, with the program unable to keep up with demand for bikes. Due to the success of the Townsville campus program it has now expanded to the Cairns campus.

The project has far exceeded its original target of 100 bikes to repair and is expected to continue indefinitely due to its strong business model.


  • Act Now – for their leadership in campaigning for environmental awareness, reef protection and divestment from fossil fuels.

Act Now is a student group on JCU’s Townsville campus dedicated to raising environmental awareness and, in particular, finding sustainable solutions. Act Now have been taking the lead in the region on preventing dangerous climate change. A major focus of Act Now’s energies has been to actively engage with JCU students, staff and senior management to call for removing JCU’s investment into fossil fuels. Act Now have strategically focused these efforts on arguably the most effective tool we have for preventing dangerous climate change – withdrawing financial investment into these activities.


  • Associate Professor Hilary Whitehouse and Dr Margaret Carter - For re-developing the Master of Education to ensure we have ecologically literate, post-graduate education leaders who have the skills and expertise to make a positive contribution to society.

Margaret and Hilary redesigned the Master of Education (M.Ed.) in response to the challenges facing 21st century adult learners in the tropics and to meet the Australian Quality Framework. Professionals who enrol in the M.Ed. are either in, or preparing for, leadership roles in education.

Our M.Ed. develops expertise in sustainability at postgraduate level through two core (required) subjects, ED5911 Education for Sustainability, where students undertake a curriculum research project for major assessment; and ED5914 Researched Action Project, where students undertake a social and/or ecological sustainability project in a professional setting.

The three new professional majors in the M.Ed. from 2015 are Sustainability, Global Contexts, and Curriculum and Leadership. In the Sustainability major, students enrol in ED5912 Co-learning for sustainability, and ED5913 Communicating sustainability and climate change.

Informed by and aligned with the JCU strategic intent, our M.Ed. program recognises our course has the power to change lives.


  • Associate Professor Mohan Jacob - for the development of renewable materials for electronics manufacture.

In 2014, the intrinsic material value of global e-waste (electronic/electrical devices) was estimated as Au$80 billion (41.8 million tonnes). Currently Australian dispose of 15.2 kg of e-waste/person/year. The environmental hazard and the toxicity of the manufacturing of electronic equipment and the disposal of e-waste are beyond our imagination.

A/Prof. Jacob is involved in research towards developing novel type materials for electronic applications. He develops materials for electronics applications from essential oils, which is typically an agriculture product. He has developed environmentally friendly polymer thin films, which can be used for developing electronic devices from different essential oils and components.

Graphene is considered as one of the best ever man made material: flexible, but tougher than Kevlar and stronger than steel. Although graphene can essentially be created from any carbon source, researchers have struggled to find a way to produce it cheaply and quickly en-masse. A/Prof Jacob recently reported a quick and sustainable way of fabricating graphene from Australian Tea Tree oil vapours, completely replacing the conventional methane gas used widely for graphene synthesis. The formation process is notably simpler, cheaper, faster and of exceptionally high quality. This invention is a milestone towards sustainability in electronics fabrication and is expected to significantly reduce e-waste by at least 100 times.


  • Green Bike Fleet Program - for their role in student engagement and developing cross collaboration both within and outside JCU.

Highly commended

  • FICUS – for their work in reducing waste and creating better social conditions in a small Peruvian village.
  • Amber Kellet – for her efforts in organising a beach clean-up and engaging with the local community to encourage participate.


  • Diego Portugal Del Pino - FICUS

Diego is the co-creator of the group Ficus Peru, a not-for-profit that has been working in the poor urban peripheries of Lima with their Recicompost project.

Recicompost is a recycling initiative that aims to reduce the amount of overall waste generated in the city by converting organic waste into nutrient rich soils using compost piles and use the composted product to improve soil structure and facilitate the creation of green environments. Organic waste constitutes up to 60% of the total amount of waste produced and there are no waste collection services in the area, with all waste thrown in informal landfills or burned, releasing a myriad of toxic gases such as PAHs, VOCs, etc.

Ficus has set up bins in a pilot sector called Las Praderas, and with the help of the community, compost piles are made every week.

In addition to this Ficus provides education to local residents and in local schools to upskill people so the local community can manage the program into the future.


  • Act Now


  • Santiago Calero

Santiago has worked as the Green Bike Fleet mechanic at JCU’s Townsville Campus for the past year and a half. In this time at JCU he has repaired over 150 donated or abandoned bikes for reuse by students. In addition to this contribution to enhance sustainable transport and improve student services on campus, Santiago has voluntarily developed a series of documentary videos on the history of the bike workshop, as well as a dedicated website:

This project has helped to promote the work being undertaken at the bike workshop and has increased its profile, with the videos being used in a submission to the 2015 Green Gown Awards Australasia for the Green Bike Fleet program.

Santiago also designed the sign for the Adella Edwards BUG Workshop which was recently erected inside the workshop to acknowledge the contribution of Adella Edwards in getting the bike workshop built.

Santiago is always willing to help students and staff with bike repairs and is a tireless worker who always has a smile and friendly attitude. This is part of the reason the bike workshop has been so successful.


  • Lucy Graham

Lucy is a passionate, inspiring, active and all-round amazing JCU sustainability champion. Her sustainability achievements at the university over the last year include successfully co-coordinating the TropFutures Mentor Program (in a voluntary capacity), leading and managing the TropEco Interns program in Cairns, advocating for student-led sustainability curricula amongst JCU decision-makers, mentoring and supporting other JCU students involved in sustainability activities on and off campus and championing the role and achievements of the JCU Sustainability Club throughout the university.

Lucy also went above and beyond in coordinating JCU’s involvement in this year’s Cairns EcoFiesta, organising volunteers in the lead up to and on the day and coordinating JCU’s stall. She also successfully coordinated various events held on the Cairns Campus throughout EcoWEEK including EcoSpeak. Lucy is a leader within the university and also the broader Cairns community with regards to sustainability. She is involved in numerous sustainability organisations and activities off campus including REAP OzHarvest Cairns and CAFNEC’s Marine Response Team and is the always one of the first to put her hand up to help out when needed.

Highly commended

  • Una Curry – for her work in advancing cycling on the Cairns Campus.

Individual receiving an award group shot of award winners