Ara to reduce carbon footprint and save money in new agreement

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09 Nov 2016

Ara Institute of Canterbury’s new partnership with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) will boost the institute’s initiatives to improve energy management, Ara Chief Executive Kay Giles says.

Giles and EECA Chief Executive Mike Underhill signed the Ara - EECA Collaboration Agreement at Ara on Wednesday 9 November.

Kay Giles, Chief Executive of Ara, and Mike Underhill, Chief Executive of EECA, sign the EECA Collaboration Agreement

“This is very positive for Ara because it is another step towards reducing our carbon footprint and lowering our operating costs. Our students are interested in our energy performance and expect us to lead with best practice,” Giles said.

The two year agreement initially targets around $100,000 of savings per year, with further savings in subsequent years likely. “With EECA’s assistance, we have estimated that we can eventually save approximately $300,000 a year or 15% of the total energy spend through good energy management practice, while also demonstrating the efficacy of a robust collaborative approach.”

With over 1000 staff and some 15,000 students across 10 campuses and community hubs, Ara is one of New Zealand’s top 200 industrial/commercial energy users, along with other ITPs and universities.

EECA estimates that most organisations can shave up to 20% off energy costs with smarter energy use.

The agreement will support a range of initiatives, such as design advice for Campus Master Plan redevelopment, energy audits at the City Campus Christchurch and Timaru campuses, scholarships for engineers, project managers, architects, quantity surveyors and construction industry participants to attend Creating Living Buildings courses on leading edge regenerative design and construction at Ara, and employing an energy management graduate to identify and implement energy management and efficiency opportunities across all campuses.  

Ara has recently launched the Sustainability Charter to guide the institute. As well as embedding best practice operations across the institute, Ara also aims to prepare all graduates to lead in sustainability across all sectors, industries and beyond national borders. Sustainability is this context includes environmental, financial and social sustainability.

The framework chosen for this work is the Learning in Future Environments (LiFE), which is available to Ara through membership of the Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS). Energy is one of the sixteen sustainability areas in the LiFE framework.

EECA has made funding available to universities, polytechnics, local councils and hospitals to support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects across the public sector. In the last five years the agency has helped the public sector save some $9 million.

EECA is the Crown agency that encourages, supports, and promotes energy efficiency, energy conservation, and the use of renewable energy in New Zealand.