Ker staying grounded

Phil Ker
Phil Ker
Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker has grounded himself for the year.

The development of the polytechnic's ecological footprint showed air travel to be a major contributor, along with coal use and information technology equipment.

Mr Ker said at a polytechnic council meeting yesterday while the polytechnic aimed to reduce its overall air travel over the next three years, he had made it a personal goal to do it in one year.

''I plan to do a lot more video-conferencing. I'll be more happy sitting in my office than getting on a plane to go to Wellington.''

It did mean putting pressure on those he did business with to ensure they had good video-conferencing facilities, he said.

The polytechnic's footprint in 2012 was estimated at 359ha and the planned replacement of its coal boiler by a woodchip-fired unit would reduce the footprint by 19% to 291ha, polytechnic researcher Dr Ella Lawton said.

''The impact of the woodchip boiler alone is staggering,'' Mr Ker said.

When compared with the footprint of 12 other tertiary institutions which completed a Tertiary Education Facilities Management Association survey, Otago Polytechnic's was much lower than average when compared with a full-time equivalent staff or student rate.

Even though Otago Polytechnic wanted to reduce its air travel, it was already well below the sector average, she said.

Council member Rebecca Williams said it was pleasing to be a leader in the field and she hoped it would inspire other polytechnics to do the same.

- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

Ecological Footprint

''I plan to do a lot more video-conferencing."

Well done Mr Ker - I wish more would do this. It's just not necessary to be travelling so much. Skype calls are almost free and most poeple have access to them. Reduces carbon footprint and costs.