Curtin University: New report stimulates a ‘green wave’ to a net-zero tomorrow

Curtin University has reduced its energy consumption by three per cent every year and introduced a suite of energy reduction initiatives as part of a new national blueprint, which seeks to address the net-zero challenge for universities across Australia.

Researchers from the Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute collaborated with the University of Technology, Sydney and Monash University on the new report, “The Green Wave: Adding value through net-zero energy strategies”, released today by the RACE for 2030 Cooperative Research Centre.

Lead Curtin researcher Dr Mike Mouritz, from the Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute, said universities were well placed to stimulate a ‘green wave’ by taking the lead towards a net-zero economy through their operations and core activities of research and education.

“This report confirmed Curtin’s strong commitment to sustainability through its courses and research partnerships, as well as a detailed audit of Curtin’s energy generation and usage across campus infrastructure, its accreditation as a 6-star Green Star Communities campus and its thermal storage tank, which has enabled the management of energy loads from the grid,” Dr Mouritz said.

“Universities have the potential to act as ‘anchor’ organisations that can work with their partners to learn how to achieve net-zero outcomes. Curtin’s energy program has initially focused on improving building management systems so that air conditioning systems are scheduled to turn off in unoccupied spaces and respond to changes in temperature, as well as extensive lighting upgrades. These might seem like small things but the challenge of working towards a net-zero future builds from this base. There is much more to learn and working with other universities has helped to provide the basis for future action.”

Co-author Dr Jessica Breadsell, also from the Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute, said the report highlighted opportunities to further build the University’s efforts to decarbonise in the future.

“The report identified many ways in which Curtin is already leading the way including the University’s Legacy Living Lab, which was designed using principles of the circular economy – an environmentally friendly economic concept that aims to design out waste by including as much recycling and re-use of materials as possible,” Dr Breadsell said.

“In the next phase of this research, we will investigate how other energy management initiatives may be incorporated including on-campus renewable energy storage, a virtual microgrid with surrounding household rooftop solar systems, renewable energy-generated carparks, and exploring opportunities to generate nature-based carbon offsets.”

The Reliable, Affordable, Clean Energy for 2030 Cooperative Research Centre (RACE for 2030) is an industry-led research collaboration to drive energy innovation across the supply chain to deliver improved, lower cost and lower emission energy services for energy customers.

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