La Trobe University commits to zero emissions

La Trobe University has committed to an ambitious $75 million initiative combining 20 separate projects which will ensure the university will have Net Zero emissions by 2029.

La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar, said that the University was committed to making real change for long-term benefit.

“La Trobe recognises the social, environmental and economic importance of reducing our carbon footprint. That’s why we have set an ambitious target to become the first University in Victoria to meet this important goal.

“Not only is reducing our carbon emissions the right thing to do, it also makes good economic and environmental sense. 

“Rather than simply buy carbon credits, we’ve got a clear plan for action and we are making genuine, local changes to become more efficient and make a deliberate switch to renewables.”

The initiative was officially launched by Professor Dewar and University Chancellor John Brumby. 

It includes the installation of more than 7000 solar panels on 27 buildings across the Melbourne campus, starting next month. That’s the equivalent of more than 17km of panels laid end to end or more than 400 home solar systems. At the peak of solar efficiency, the panels will supply up to half of the campus’ daytime power usage.

In excess of 3300 solar panels have already been installed on rooftops at regional campuses in Mildura, Shepparton, Bendigo and Albury Wodonga.

More than 50,000 high-efficiency low cost LED lights will also be progressively installed in and around University buildings to permanently reduce overall power consumption.

As part of the plan, a large-scale composter has already been installed at the Melbourne campus. The unit can each day turn the equivalent of 100kg of organic waste into 20kg of nutrient rich, eco-friendly fertiliser for campus gardens and grounds. Ultimately 100 per cent of  campus organic waste will be diverted from landfill, reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

The University is also harnessing the it’s in-house research and technology expertise to reduce emissions. Data analytics researchers and their students are designing and implementing the La Trobe Energy Analytics Platform (LEAP) – not only monitoring energy consumption in up to 50 smart buildings, but also making lighting, heating and cooling adjustments in real time to reduce energy consumption.

Vice President Strategy and Development for La Trobe, Natalie MacDonald, said this initiative was the obvious next step in the University’s long-term sustainability plan.

“Our Net Zero commitment builds on the great sustainability work already underway. A diverse eco-corridor runs through our Melbourne campus. We were the first Australian University to commit to divestment of fossil fuel intensive investments in 2016. 

“We are the first University nationally to receive a six-star rating for sustainable large-scale developments and our University City of the Future plan is embracing best practice green building practices.”

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