La Trobe University: La Trobe meets Net Zero regional targets

La Trobe University’s Mildura and Shepparton campuses are officially Net Zero – the first Victorian university campuses to achieve this important milestone.

The announcement comes as part of the University’s $75 million commitment to become carbon neutral across all its campuses, including Bundoora in Melbourne, by 2029 – with all of its regional campuses expected to reach the target by the end of 2022.

La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar AO said he was proud of what the University had been able to achieve in a short timeframe.

“We announced our ambitious plan less than three years ago, in August 2019, because not only was it the right thing to do, it also made good economic and environmental sense,” Professor Dewar said.

“I’m thrilled to announce today that – through good planning, innovative thinking and a firm focus on achieving our goals – two of our regional campuses have achieved their target several months ahead of schedule.”

Professor Dewar said that as a University focussed on building a better world, it’s important that La Trobe leads by example on critical issues like climate change.

“Many organisations have bold targets for reducing their emissions – but moving from ambition to action can be where the real challenge lies,” Professor Dewar said.

“We’ve set very specific goals, and we’re achieving them through timely actions – and now our staff, students and communities will benefit for years to come,” Professor Dewar said.

Greater Shepparton City Council Mayor, Councillor Kim O’Keeffe, said the achievement was a positive step for the region and worked to support the need for urgent climate emergency action.

“Greater Shepparton City Council are working consistently to help promote and improve the climate and sustainability of our region and it is fantastic to see organisations across the municipality understand this need for change to maintain a safe climate for all,” Cr O’Keeffe said.

Councillor for Environment and Sustainability at the Mildura Rural City Council, Jason Modica, said the achievement is a significant step forward for the broader community in its ongoing work to slash the region’s carbon emissions.

“It’s great to see other large and respected organisations in our region doing great work in this area, and along with our own response to the climate emergency, I think we’re really putting our region on the map in terms of creating a more sustainable community,” Cr Modica said.

A range of projects have been implemented on each campus, including the installation of rooftop solar panels, energy efficient LED lights, mechanical system efficiency upgrades, and batteries to store solar energy.

In 2021, La Trobe generated enough renewables across all campuses to power all regional campuses for the entire year. Today in Mildura, 78 per cent of the campus is self-powered during the day. In Shepparton, the solar panels alone supply 36 per cent of the campus’ daytime energy use.

La Trobe’s Shepparton and Mildura campuses received their certification through Climate Active – Australia’s collective action. The campuses are the first Victorian ‘precincts’ to achieve certification.

In addition to the implemented initiatives, La Trobe University has partnered with Greenfleet on a local revegetation project to offset the small percentage of emissions not reducible through on-site interventions.

La Trobe’s Nangak Tamboree Wildlife Sanctuary is providing 5,000 seedlings to a revegetation project in Kinglake, Victoria. The land is traditionally owned by the Taungurung and Wurundjeri Peoples, and will become home to an ecosystem for a variety of native birds in the area.

A breakdown of initiatives implemented on each campus include:

In Mildura:

At peak operation the campus is 100% powered from onsite renewables
Installed a 130 Kw solar system, enough to power 25 houses
Replaced 800 light fittings with energy efficient LEDs – 100 per cent of campus lighting is now LED.
Installed Tesla Power Wall System to store solar generated on-site
The campus is currently over 65 per cent powered from onsite renewables
Chiller replaced with energy efficient chiller
Installed high efficiency chilled water pumps and Variable Speed Drives.
Heating, ventilation and cooling Building Management System optimisation

In Shepparton:

Installed 115 solar panels, which is enough to power over 20 hours
Replaced 807 light fittings with energy efficient LEDs – 100% of campus lighting is now LED.
Has an organics pick-up and processing system, which benefits local farmers
Heating, ventilation and cooling Building Management System optimisation

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