Monash wins global award for Net Zero initiative

Monash University and ClimateWorks Australia have won the Momentum for Change Award presented by the United Nations at the Climate Week conference in New York for the Net Zero initiative.

The ambitious initiative aims to achieve net zero carbon emissions from Monash’s built environment by 2030, paving the way to a future powered entirely by renewable energy.

Momentum for Change is spearheaded by the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat.

It recognises innovative and transformative solutions that address climate change and wider economic, social and environmental challenges, highlighting activities that are moving the world towards a highly resilient, low-carbon future.

These solutions, called Lighthouse Activities, are the world’s most practical, scalable and replicable examples of what people, businesses, governments and industries are doing to tackle climate change.

Monash Universirt president and vice-chancellor Professor Margarret Gardner AO said the award is an affirmation of the commitment Monash has made to address climate change and its effects.

“Sustainability is a strategic priority for Monash,” she said.

“We want each of our campuses to become exemplars of environmental practice, integrating our education, research and industry partnerships with our built environment.”

Developed in collaboration with ClimateWorks Australia, Monash’s Net Zero initiative was designed to make the university’s Australian campuses “living laboratories”.

ClimateWorks project manager Sarah Fumei said the initiative is helping pave the way for a low-carbon future.

“Where else could you conduct a live experiment at scale in what is effectively a mini-city, with willing participants and a team of multidisciplined experts monitoring results and adjusting inputs in real time?” she said.

Since the Net Zero announcement in October last year, Monash has:

  • started implementing its comprehensive energy-efficiency program, including LED lighting upgrades, mechanical plant renewal and optimisation;
  • installed more than 4000 solar panels, bringing its existing rooftop solar capacity to nearly 2MW, enough to power 320 average Australian households, and plans to increase this to 7100 solar panels, or 4MW, by the end of 2018
  • Signed a long-term power purchase agreement with the Murra Warra wind farm to help meet its 100 per cent renewable power target;
  • installed a 1MWh hybrid energy storage system; and
  • successfully completed a pilot for its market-leading microgrid, which will control how and when energy is used across campus, and provide a model for how to power a sustainable and reliable electricity network to maximise value for customers.

“Monash and ClimateWorks Australia are working with industry and government to communicate the lessons learned from the Net Zero Initiative, and to encourage other organisations to undertake similar initiatives,” Net Zero program director Scott Ferraro said.

“A strong emphasis is placed on transforming Monash’s Campuses into smart cities and creating models that can be replicated well beyond the campus boundaries.”