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March 26, 2019 | by  | in News |
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Sustainability on Salamanca: VUW working on environmental impact

A number of VUWSA and university initiatives are helping Victoria University follow more sustainable energy, waste, and building practices.

 

According to the 2016 energy management strategy, the majority of VUW’s carbon emissions come from gas and electricity usage, amounting to over 5000 tonnes of carbon each year.

Victoria University claims that it has reduced its carbon emissions by 20% in the last ten years. This places VUW only behind AUT in terms of carbon footprint.

However, until 2018, carbon footprint calculations did not include Halls of Residence and other factors.

Because of this, VUW Sustainability Director Andrew Wilks estimates that the calculated carbon footprint of the university grew by 15% last year.

Since 2018, though, Property Services has been working with halls to improve energy efficiency, “generating almost a million dollars a year of savings compared to business as usual,” according to Wilks.

Newer buildings on campus, such as Te Toki a Rata, are built with energy efficiency specifically in mind, in accordance with the sustainability ethos of Campus Design Guidelines.

VUWSA currently has no sustainability policy, but is planning to finalise one later this year.

“VUWSA has acted sustainably in the past without a previous sustainability policy,” Salient was told.

For instance, VUWSA offers compost-only cutlery at events, supports Plastic Diet, and offers low-waste menstrual cups to students. A Sustainability Committee facilitates discussions on reducing environmental impact for students.

Additionally, the Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer is one of VUWSA’s elected executive positions, which will be up for election in the upcoming IGM.

The creation of the VUW Sustainability Officer and VUWSA Sustainability Committee shows that there is “upper level support” for sustainability initiatives, Wilks suggested.

Wilks added that collaboration with students means that there will be increasing formal support for such initiatives, although he says the university is “always on the improve” its environmental impact.

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