Guidelines to Make Victoria University School of Architecture and Design Carbon Neutral Through Minimising its Reliance on Carbon Offsets
Universities have always had an important leadership role in society in demonstrating the types of changes that need to occur with respect to the prime issues of the time. All around the world, universities are lining up to declare themselves the next carbon neutral school as part of the global trend of becoming "sustainable." But what does it really mean to be carbon neutral? In 2007 Victoria University's School of Architecture and Design (SoAD) declared themselves the first carbon neutral campus in the world through the use of sponsored and purchased carbon credits. However 100% reliance on offset schemes is not the answer as it does not guarantee the capture of carbon forever. Also, the continuing purchase of carbon offsets could be costly and maintaining businessas- usual without any significant changes will result in continuing environmental degradation as a result of the SoAD's unsustainable activities. This research explores various solutions for reducing the three biggest factors that contribute towards the emissions, which are energy, transport and waste. It looks at the difference between behavioural changes (low cost) and technological investment (high cost) in order for SoAD to reduce its carbon footprint to meet three possible reduction targets, established by this research as 25%, 50% and 90%. The findings are that 25% could be saved through simple behavioural changes which cost very little, as they are mainly related to avoiding wastage, 50% could be saved through a combination of low and high cost measures, and 90% comes from considerable investment in new technologies or drastic reduction in use. A further aim of the research is to translate all possible savings into other means, such as knowing how much carbon or land is saved, using a measure such as the ecological footprint, and more importantly what these savings mean to the third world where resources are scarce and expensive. If SoAD's wasteful activities from neglect can be translated into saving people's lives in other nations, it might lead to more responsible energy use. What this research indicates is that for SoAD to be carbon neutral various factors need to be considered and user behaviour is paramount.