ANU zeroes in on emission-reduction actions for 2030 pledge

ANU Below Zero buildings
28 March 2022

By Thomas Biedermann
Program Manager (Below Zero Initiative) 

The University has made significant progress to reduce emissions across its campuses since we announced the Below Zero initiative in May last year.

ANU was one of the first universities in Australia and the world to commit to not only reducing and offsetting our emissions but also taking more carbon out of the atmosphere than we put in by 2030.

Much of the work to date has been a collaboration between our professional and academic staff, forging a link between research on the energy transition and carbon removal and practical approaches for ANU infrastructure and planning.

Good data is a critical part of delivering on our commitments. We will launch a monitoring system of all ANU greenhouse emissions, including a new energy dashboard to provide greater transparency around energy use, later this year.

ANU is implementing a pilot electrification process whereby seven end-of-life gas boilers will be replaced with electrical heat pumps. We are also decarbonising infrastructure at University House and the School of Art and Design, in parallel with hail remediation work. Jointly this will reduce our emissions by 588 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. The next tranche of boiler replacements is being scoped to accelerate this transition.

By the end of this year, we'll have developed a master plan that builds on the lessons learnt from our pilot initiatives and multidisciplinary expertise to map out the systemic decarbonisation of the Acton campus. Transitioning away from natural gas and fossil fuels to reduce our emissions is a critical priority to achieve our commitments.

Next week we will launch Green Impact, a community engagement program supporting staff and students to implement initiatives that reduce climate impacts.

We're also piloting approaches to reducing emissions associated with our travel. This will include providing guidelines for low-carbon travel and tools to help you calculate and report on travel-related greenhouse gas emissions. We'll have more to say about this pilot and how you can participate in the next few weeks.

Reducing our emissions is no longer sufficient to limit temperature increases to globally agreed levels. A group of ANU researchers are developing the University's principles for greenhouse gas emissions removal that will be launched in the next few months. These principles will be applied to drive the purchase of high-quality carbon credits and strategic prioritisation of new research and pilots in the emissions removal sector, to enable us to bring our net emissions below zero.

We've had incredible engagement from the ANU community. A number of ANU lecturers from across ANU have incorporated ANU Below Zero projects into their course curriculum. Students get real-world experience with emission reduction and removal activities in a large organisation context. ANU Below Zero has also facilitated a number of student projects, through internships, coursework and short-term research projects. Schools, Colleges and Portfolios have also reached out to pitch ideas and seek guidance or have proactively taken action.

ANU students, professional staff and academics have also engaged through working and governance groups for Below Zero, giving their advice and support to help ensure the best outcomes for the program in 2022 and beyond.

Learn more about Below Zero or contact us on our website.

First published on the ANU Below Zero website.