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September 8, 2008 | by  | in News |
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World’s first carbon neutral Faculty of Architecture and Design

Victoria University’s Faculty of Architecture and Design has become the first Faculty of Architecture and Design in the world to be certified as carbon neutral.

Since 2003, the Faculty has been part of carboNZero, a programme aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A donation of 200 tonnes of carbon credits from Meridian Energy led to the Faculty to be certified as carbon neutral by Landcare Research, a Crown environmental research organisation, three months ago.

This donation, combined with the Faculty’s purchase of an additional 135.5 tonnes of carbon credits effectively reduced its emissions from 335.5 tonnes per year to zero, in one year.

According to Gordon Holden, Dean of the Faculty of Architecture and Design, the Faculty is the first of hundreds of similar schools worldwide to make the move.

“We can identify about 600 schools of architecture and a further several hundred schools of design. To the best of our knowledge we are the first carbon neutral group of its type,” he said.

The decision to go carbon neutral was the result the Faculty’s decision to introduce a course on carbon neutral sustainability.

“We explored the possibility of measuring the carbon footprint of delivering the sustainability course, with the view of just neutralising that course, as a demonstration of the commitment to the underlying intent of the course,” Holder said.

This experimentation was later extended to the whole Faculty after sponsorship was gained from Meridian Energy.

The Faculty intends to reduce emissions by using video-conferencing and web technologies to reduce air travel, and by reducing landfill waste by reducing material needs for scale models, recycling materials and increasing the use of blackboard and double-sided photocopying.

In addition, it is looking to identify ways to improve the efficiency of gas heating, such as better ceiling insulation, and promoting the use of sustainable transport such as “green” taxis, buses and car-pooling for local travel.

The Faculty has public committed to further reducing emissions by 25 per cent per student and staff member by 2012.

The project is a pilot for the whole university and a report is expected to be presented to the Vice-Chancellor towards the end of next year.

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