Finalist

Green University of the Year Award

La Trobe University

Finalist of the Green University of the Year Award

"A climate clever university for today and tomorrow"


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Summary

La Trobe’s commitment to being a green university is evident across teaching, research and operations. Three unique initiatives stand out:

1. The La Trobe Net Zero Program (LTNZP) has an ambitious target to achieve carbon neutrality by 2029, making La Trobe the first university in Victoria to achieve this. LTNZP intentionally focusses on reaching carbon neutrality utilising the University’s resources to generate renewable energy and reduce consumption – not simply purchase carbon credits. Installing over 7,000 solar panels and 60,000 LED lights, new solar carports and an organic waste processing unit all contribute to our target.

2. The La Trobe Energy Analytics Platform (LEAP) is a data analytics platform to analyse, benchmark and predict energy consumption. LEAP applies cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to analyse data from a variety of public and private sources. LEAP enables building benchmarking and can measure & validate the effectiveness of energy savings to International Performance Measurement and Validation Protocol (IPMVP) standards. LEAP is a true “living lab” with PhD students participating in its development under the guidance of the university’s Centre for Data Analytics and Cognition.

3. La Trobe’s unique eco-corridor “Nangak Tamboree” is being enhanced and protected with re-vegetation and re-generation taking place on and outside our campus. It includes a 50 year bushland regeneration project growing the Wildlife Sanctuary from 6.5 ha to 30 ha of biodiverse indigenous flora and fauna. It is protected by a Trust for Nature Covenant and is an important node in the wildlife corridors of the region.

Key People


Andrew Jennings
Director – Carbon Neutral Strategy
Infrastructure and Operations,  La Trobe University


Acknowledgements

Microsoft – Technical and Design support for La Trobe Energy Analytics Platform Sonepar/SLS – Partners in creation of the Net Zero Fund to support innovation, research, grad PhD’s and scholarships

Images

"Nangak Tamboree"

Committed to reaching our targets

Albury Wodonga carpark (solar)

Led lighting installation

Solar panels: buildings

Natalie MacDonald

Paul Farley

Simon Barnes

Professor Damminda Alahakoon

Dr Daswin De Silva

Julie O'Brien

Julie O'Brien

IMPACT STORY

Impacting lifes

A group of 50 enthusiastic students is helping to reduce La Trobe’s environmental impact as well as improve the health and wellbeing of others. Each weekday, teams of students from student club ‘Two Birds, One Scone’ visit cafes on the campus to collect unsold food. The donated food is then repackaged, and distributed to people in need, primarily through charitable community groups in the local area and to students suffering financial pressure. To date, around 6,500 kilograms (6.5 tonnes) of food from landfill has been redirected to those suffering food insecurity.

La Trobe student Laurence Cashin, president of ‘Two Birds, One Scone’, is studying climate science. Learning about the alarming volume of food waste going into landfill encouraged him to get involved to make change both for the environment and those in need.

“As a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, food waste is a real problem so the waste we divert from landfill is win-win. Those who benefit include homeless and unemployed people, single parents and others suffering hardship for different reasons. Many have mental health issues. As soon as I see the faces of the people we are helping, I know this is worth it.”

Andrew Jennings, La Trobe Director Carbon Neutral said: “La Trobe is really proud to support this initiative. It’s fantastic to see students living La Trobe’s cultural values of innovation, care, accountable and connectedness. Not only are they taking the initiative to reduce La Trobe’s environmental impact, they’re also demonstrating leadership and entrepreneurial spirit.”

LEARNINGS

Lessons learned

At La Trobe, achieving net zero by 2029 requires strong support and engagement from all stakeholders, both senior leadership and academics. Since announcement and roll-out, the engagement from staff, students, academics has been unsurpassed for this program. The challenges often encountered early on for large initiatives like this were quickly overcome. Creating a clear plan that was clearly articulated and easy to understand, quickly helped create a strong sense of belief in the program and support.

The momentum has grown with delivery, taking a life of its own with unforeseen partners locally and globally requesting to join us on our journey. The potential partners keep growing every week. The high level of engagement from students, academics and community have translated into these groups coming forward with ideas, proposals, plans, suggestions to assist in achieving our goal. There is also a changing financial dynamic. This project is able to stand up financially, and successfully compete for capital funds as ROI can be demonstrated.

For any large organisation wanting to embark on a similar journey, we strongly advise to start by focussing on consumption and efficiency reduction, rather than rush out and source off site carbon credits. It is achievable and will result in longer term sustainability. Be sure to announce the plan to a range of stakeholders and aim to implement quickly to maintain momentum, and support the program with a robust marketing, communications and engagement plan. Lastly, be open to ideas and experimenting with the range of opportunities that come.

FUTURE PLANS

What's coming?

La Trobe’s 2020-2022 Sustainability Plan aligns with the UN’s SDGs and issues such as climate change, action and adaptation feature prominently.

Our regional campuses will be net zero in 2022 and we are pursuing the first carbon neutral campus by end of 2020. New projects are planned to see the rest of the University become carbon neutral by 2029.

La Trobe’s Energy Analytics Platform, created by students and graduates will be active in 2020 and become a teaching and learning platform with data available to universities and others to analyse or create additional opportunities. Our graduates will have insights available from this real-world environment to identify, diagnose and fix issues as they arise.

A Net Zero fund has been established with the support of external partners to further assist La Trobe’s carbon neutrality target, primarily focussed on sustainability, energy management, energy efficiency and lighting design. Funds will support developing opportunities for students through placements, course support, student-led initiatives, and research.

We’ll further drive behaviour change by promoting the data that becomes available on campus, placing this information front and centre to engage and educate our staff, students and visitors on energy generated and saved.

Our approach to designing and building new infrastructure aims to build net zero buildings. We are currently applying for net zero accreditation for new student accommodation buildings opening in 2020.

All these developments are designed to feed into the future development of our University City of the Future – a world-class sustainable city for today and tomorrow.


KEY STATISTICS

$75 Million

Investment in the Net Zero program

600%

Increase in onsite renewables generation in year 1

$15 million

Committed investment in 2019

1 million

People reached at launch of La Trobe’s Net Zero program

14,500 (t) CO2e

Reduction in carbon emissions across all campuses

25%

% reduction in carbon emissions

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