University's sustainability plan 'bold'

The University of Otago has agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a third within three years.

The university's ''Sustainability Strategic Framework: 2017-2021'', which was approved at last week's council meeting, also has it aiming to halve the waste it sends to landfills in four years and only be using renewable energy sources by 2030.

It also aims to improve its energy efficiency by 20% within eight years, which would save it about $2 million per year.

Vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne said the university wanted to make progress on the framework quickly, showing it was a leader in the area of sustainability.

To do this, it had set itself 10 priority actions this year, Prof Hayne said.

She was adamant the university commitment must be ''real and measurable'' and had created the slogan ''Boldly Sustainable - Our Promise to the Future''.

Office of sustainability manager Hilary Phipps said at the council meeting universities had long been agents for change, and, as a major employer, consumer and economic contributor to Dunedin, it was in a unique position to lead the way on sustainability.

''We can demonstrate operational sustainability at scale,'' Dr Phipps said.

She described the plan as ''bold'', but said it needed to be to meet the challenges the university and the planet faced.

The 10 priority actions for this year included establishing clear targets, gaining independent assurance the university's carbon footprint was accurate and implementing green building standards.

The framework, which was tabled at the council meeting, includes a plan to move away from coal as the source of its steam supply from the Dunedin Energy Centre.

The centre was also used by the Dunedin Hospital and chief operating officer Stephen Willis said at the meeting he would discuss the issue with the Southern District Health Board soon.

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