La Trobe University and the Carbon Tax

Posted on May 17, 2012

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Still quarter of a million dollars ahead – and less pollution!

La Trobe’s co-gen plant: twice as carbon efficient as brown coal power generation.

La Trobe University has calculated it is about quarter of a million dollars better off under the new carbon tax regime because it produces energy for its Melbourne campus from its own gas-fired cogeneration plant.

‘More importantly, our carbon emissions would be much higher if we were to rely on brown coal generators that supply most of the rest of Victoria,’ says Pro Vice-Chancellor (Sustainability) Professor Carol Adams.

‘So the Carbon Pricing Mechanism highlights our efforts in acting responsibly and looking after the interests of today’s students and those of future generations.’

La Trobe University’s co-generation plant produces electricity along with hot water and heating from the one natural gas energy source.

The plant has operated for nearly two decades and is twice as carbon efficient as brown coal power generation. With some 25,000 staff and students on the Melbourne campus, it serves a population the size of a small city.

‘La Trobe is the only university on the carbon tax list because we produce so much of our own energy, sometimes even selling it back into the State grid. But it’s much cleaner and less polluting energy than that produced by other fossil fuels,’ says Professor Adams.

Continuous monitoring

Professor Adams: international reporting standards

La Trobe continually monitors its sustainability performance, a process which involves contributions from more than 100 people from all areas of the University.

‘‘We publish this data annually and are one of the few universities in the world to prepare such a thorough report,’ she says. ‘Our report is verified by external assurers and uses the Global Reporting Initiative at A+ application level.’

The report outlines La Trobe’s environmental, social and economic impact as well as the work it is doing through education, research and community engagement.

Room for improvement

‘While we have plans in place to achieve long-term targets, our performance in energy and water consumption, as well as emissions resulting from staff business travel, leave room for improvement.’

To help achieve its energy use target by 2020, La Trobe is participating in Victoria’s ‘Greener Government Building Program.

Control panel of the La Trobe cogeneration plant

Read more about the full range of sustainability activity at La Trobe.

The latest annual report, ‘Creating Futures’ is available here.

La Trobe’s previous report, Responsible Futures’ won the ‘Best First Time’ sustainability report award from ‘corporateregister.com global’, the world’s largest directory of non-financial reports  comprising almost 40,000 reports from 160 countries.