Electric cars will help reduce greenhouse gases

Published 29 March 2007

Southern Cross University will soon take delivery of three new electric vehicles – saving about twenty four tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere annually.

The vehicles, which will arrive next month, are part of the University’s ongoing commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and working towards environmental sustainability, said Mike Cooper, director of Facilities Management and Services.

The University’s car pool fleet, as well as many other vehicles held by various departments, has already been changed to four-cylinder vehicles to help the environment, Mr Cooper said.

“For example, a four-cylinder vehicle as opposed to a six-cylinder vehicle over 30,000km will produce around 2,025 kg less carbon dioxide emissions and save around $1,100 in fuel costs representing a 20 percent saving in both fuel costs and emission discharge,” he said.

“This results in a saving of 46.5 tonnes of emissions and around $25,000 in fuel costs per annum.

“Other reasons for making the switch to smaller cars include their lower purchase and running costs, better trade-in values, and in some cases, improved safety features.”

There has been a great deal of discussion among University staff recently on how the University can continue to respond to the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improve waste management and become more environmentally sustainable.

Mr Cooper said he was proud of the fact that Southern Cross University had achieved second place out of 54 contenders in the most recent 2005 Tertiary Education Facilities Manager Association (TEFMA) survey in the area of ‘environmental management’.

The University achieved ‘best practice’ status for having an environmental action plan in regard to energy, water, waste and the natural environment.

The University also scored a ‘best practice’ rating in the areas of ‘strategic asset management’ and ‘space management’. The 2006 results will not be available until July.

TEFMA represents facilities management in the Australasian tertiary education sector. Its annual benchmark survey has become one of the industry’s most recognised and respected examples of collaborative benchmarking on issues such as energy usage, water, grounds management costs, parking, space management, environmental management and strategic asset management.

Mr Cooper said the University this year revised its comprehensive environmental management plan which covers all University operations such as the management of air quality, chemicals, energy, waste, biodiversity, transport, water and community awareness. The policy also sets out clear environmental goals. It is available at http://staff.scu.edu.au/facilities/index.html

The University is committed to the principles of environmental responsibility and sustainable resource management, Mr Cooper said, and seeks to meet this commitment through community involvement and leadership in education, research and sustainable management practices.

“We strongly support recycling and other initiatives which include the collection of waste paper and co-mingled waste. This has resulted in a reduction of over 200 tonnes of waste going to landfill. Recycled paper is baled and sold to recyclers,” Mr Cooper said.

“Other initiatives we have introduced include water reducing shower heads to student residences and ‘Quantum’ hot water units to Magellan College.

“Almost all landscape watering on campus is from recycled storm water. It is expected that by mid 2007 all landscape watering will be from recycled sources.

“And the design of the new Tweed Gold Coast Campus building will exceed newly legislated energy requirements.”

Mr Cooper said he had recently been asked why air conditioning units could not be turned off during weekends as a further environmental measure.

“Major air-conditioning plant should not be turned off for long periods as the main bearings dry out and cost more to replace than energy to run the unit, which includes the high use of energy to get the building back to the required temperature of 20-22 degrees Celsius. However individual small units should always be turned off when not needed,” he said.

“However, savings in air-conditioning costs could be achieved if people were prepared to let us run the air conditioning plants at a more moderate temperature setting of say 25 degrees Celsius on hot days.

“We are always open to suggestions on how we can improve our response to environmental management issues, as we recognise that this is of vital importance not only to our University community, region and nation but also to the future of the planet itself.”

Photo: Mike Cooper, director of Facilities Management and Services, said by balancing power demands against energy supply this high-tech power factor correction unit results in reduced greenhouse gas emissions and substantial energy savings.

Media contact: Zoe Satherley Southern Cross University media officer, 6620 3144, 0439 132 095.