Seed Funded Research Projects

In 2017, five exceptional research projects were awarded seed-funding by CACSUD UniSA covering all of the three priorities of the centre:

                                                        CACSUD priorities info-graphic


See below for the projects, the researchers and the project description:

Bike Sharing Program Tianjin

1. Greening Campus Travel; Examining Students Attitudes to the Environment; A Comparative Study of Students Travel at UniSA and Tianjin Universities

Research team:  Dr Andrew AllanProf Christopher SaintDr Stephen BerryProf Ali Soltani and A/Prof Jian Zuo.

The aim of this project is to better understand students’ experiences and desires regarding commuting to campus and how they are affected by their attitudes to the environment. Two students’ surveys regarding their travel patterns, behavioural norms and habits and attitudes towards the environment have been already conducted in UniSA and Tianjin. The data will be analysed using advanced statistical methods such as the multi-level and structural equation modelling and the path analysis. This project will accelerate plans for studies on students travel behaviour, to assist in identifying interventions that will increase students’ physical activity, health and well-being. 


Mawson Lakes2. Preliminary Assessment of bioenergy generation from coffee waste and canteen food wastes from Cafés in Mawson Lakes

Research team:  Dr Jayant KeskarProf Christopher Saint, Dr Robert Crocker


This project is aimed at assessing bioenergy generation from coffee waste primarily and secondly with food waste generated from the local cafés at UniSA’s Mawson Lakes campus. Discussions with select Mawson Lakes campus café owners and a representative sample will be collected and analysed for physio-chemical parameters. Based on this data, an experiment will be set up on AMPTS unit and the data generated from the system will be analysed and further experiments will be planned with another batch of coffee waste as well as other food waste. A final report with data analysis and suggestions will be provided. 

This project will form the basis for potential elimination of transporting organic waste to landfill thereby reducing the carbon footprint. Based on the outcome of this project, further pilot testing can be considered with a development of Anaerobic Digester Prototype that can be utilised by engineering students as their research project and it can also be suggested for implementation at Tianjin University

Construction at Mawson Lakes3. A Taxonomy of Construction and Demolition (C&D) Waste for a Standard Recording and Reporting System in Australia

Research team:  Dr Tim McGinley,  Professor Ning Gu, Dr Rameez Rameezdeen, Dr Nicholas Chileshe, Dr Ki Kim, Dr Wolfgang Mayer


Recent waste reports in Australia acknowledge the poor quality of C&D waste data available which leads to many assumptions in the reported results. Such reports are used by decision makers to define policy directions and establish targets which can be based on potentially misleading baselines and leading to investing resources in the wrong strategies. A lack of common definition of C&D waste streams, as well as recording and reporting systems have hindered the development of effective and sustainable strategies for minimizing C&D waste in Australia. Without a common understanding of C&D waste there is also a risk of slowing down the resource recovery and commercialization activities that support C&D waste diversion. 

This research project will develop a taxonomy of C&D waste with innovative combined methods of data mining, cloud computing and qualitative analysis. The outcomes of this research will help support more consistent collection and categorisation of data across all jurisdictions in Australia. This will enable analysis of gaps in C&D infrastructure and services, and assist jurisdictions in focusing resources to fill those gaps. Ultimately, a higher confidence in the accuracy of available data would be undoubtedly a major progress to making improved policy and planning decisions towards minimizing C&D waste. A more robust data set would be beneficial for industry operators, and government policy makers.

Mawson Lakes Campus4. Indicators for the Design, Development and Management of Eco-precincts: Mawson Lakes and Tianjin university campus 

Research team:  Dr Alpana Sivam, Dr Sadasivam Karuppannan, Dr Robert Crocker, Professor Ning Gu

Cities account for 45% of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions across the world, with buildings, transport and consumption as prime components. Much of the current research on GHG reduction strategies focuses on technologies and policies that promote the efficient use of energy in buildings. The proposed research will expand on this, and include the effects of alternative urban forms, movement patterns, social infrastructure, water retention and reduction technologies, food provisioning, and integrated waste management, on GHG reduction opportunities. The aim of this research project is to critically examine and compare various existing sustainability indicators. In order to develop sustainable low carbon precinct indicators suitable for application in both Mawson Lakes Campus and Tianjin’s new university campus. The aim of this project is to develop comparative tools to enable universities to develop transition strategies towards the design, development and management of low carbon assets, including whole campuses. Mawson Lakes will be the focus of this study, and one of its goals will be to provide indicators that can be applied to other low carbon precinct settings, including Tianjin University. This study will become a pathway for further study to create and bench mark design, development and management of various type of sustainable low carbon precincts in different contexts, such as neighbourhood, CBD etc.

Students drinking coffee in take away cups5. Reducing Takeaway Coffee Cup Use, Coffee Waste and other Waste from Café in Mawson Lakes 

Research team:  Dr Sukhbir Sandhu, Dr Robert Crocker, Assoc. Prof. Sumit Lodhia, Prof. Marc Orlitzky, Dr Jayant Keskar, He He, Alana Potts

Takeaway coffee cups have become a major waste problem around the world, with some estimates suggesting that 500 billion of these PE-lined paper cups are now entering the waste stream every year. Australia alone is thought to be using 1 billion each year, the UK 3 billion, and the USA 18 billion. Because they are lined with plastic, these single-use products are sent into a mixed waste stream destined for landfill or incineration, along with their plastic lids, however many end up into drains and waterways. There is very little research on this problem, with most of the papers published focusing on coffee cup waste as a recycling problem rather than a consumption one. Therefore the project aims to lead to a more circular economic model of consumption, especially in this everyday domain. It will trial a more active and integrated approach to reducing problem single-use consumer wastes combining big data with consumer behaviour interventions. Secondly, it will allow researchers to develop evidence-based strategies for waste reduction in an understudied domain for use by local councils, and also by the university at Mawson Lakes Campus.