Net zero by 2029, says La Trobe
Victoria’s La Trobe University has set an ambitious target of net zero emissions by 2029, launching a $75 million initiative involving 20 projects.
One project involves the installation of more than 7000 solar panels on 27 buildings across the Melbourne campus, the equivalent of more than 17 km of panels. At the peak of solar efficiency, the panels will supply up to half of the campus’s daytime power usage. More than 3300 solar panels have already been installed on rooftops at regional campuses in Mildura, Shepparton, Bendigo and Albury–Wodonga.
Another project involves the progressive installation of 50,000 high-efficiency, low-cost LEDs in and around the university buildings to reduce overall power consumption. The Melbourne campus is also now home to a large-scale composter, which can turn 100 kg of organic waste into 20 kg of nutrient-rich, eco-friendly fertiliser each day for use on the campus gardens and grounds. Ultimately, the campus hopes to divert 100% of organic waste from landfill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
La Trobe University’s Vice Chancellor Professor John Dewar said the university was committed to making real change for long-term benefits.
“La Trobe recognises the social, environment and economic importance of reducing our carbon footprint,” he said. “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,” Dewar explained.
The university is also harnessing its 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), which will monitor energy consumption in up to 50 smart buildings and make lighting, heating and cooling adjustments in real time to reduce energy consumption.
With significant landholdings across the state of Victoria, La Trobe is also in the early stages of investigating, with industry and government, the viability of solar farms on university land that will not only create clean energy, but provide an opportunity for research and innovation.
Vice President of Strategy and Development 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,” MacDonald said.
“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,” she said.
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