While Charles Sturt University might be dubbed as Australia’s ‘first carbon neutral university’, how does it try to reduce staff and students’ carbon footprints?
On close inspection at the Wagga campus, there seemed to be many cars driven and used by only one person.
According to sustainability officer at Wagga’s CSU Green Kym Witney-Soanes, vehicle fuel contributed only 2.2 per cent of the university’s overall carbon footprint last year.
Contributing the most to CSU’s carbon footprint is electricity at 66 per cent followed by gas at 17 per cent.
Ms Witney-Soanes said encouraging car pooling to and from university has always been a challenge.
“It’s always a tricky one in terms of the individual commute to works particularly in rural areas when there’s often limited public transport available,” she said.
“Currently I am designing a survey to undertake stakeholder engagement to find out what are the barriers and opportunities to reducing private single car use.
“Usually it is convenience and time, which makes car use more efficient.”
The CSU Green office works in partnership with the travel and fleet offices to reduce emissions through initiatives.
The Wagga campus kicked off a new initiative six weeks ago by offering staff an incentive for free coffee vouchers when they carpool between campuses.
“While it’s a new initiative the response has been better than we thought, given the little advertising we have done for it,” Ms Witney-Soanes said.
“So far, 28 per cent of all trips have been carpooled and this has given us a baseline to move forward over the next year.”
CSU Green also encourages staff to use the bike system, where about 20 bikes are distributed across the Wagga campus to minimise car use within the campus.
Ms Witney-Soanes said they’re trying to embed sustainability into staff criteria and as part of their job performance reviews staff have to demonstrate what green initiatives they are embedding into their jobs.
While these initiatives are staff focused, the university encourages student involvement through awareness raising.
“Every year we participate in national Ride to Work Day, encouraging people to ride their bikes to university through active transport,” she said.
“We also participate in Earth Hour and challenge residential students to compete with each other to see who can save the most energy.”
While Ms Witney-Soanes admitted that Wagga campus is spread out, she said the walk from one side of campus isn’t too far, only about 13 minutes “weather permitting”.
“I’ve noticed a growing walking culture at the Wagga campus and we have signs encouraging people to walk around,” she said.
While there are only two Busabout services operating between Wagga CBD and CSU, through North Wagga and Estella, work is being conducted behind the scenes to make sure that there are no clashes between with classes in each course.
For example, this means that VET students in labs don’t have to drive or travel to the other side of the campus for another class straight after.
The university has a transport access guide, promoting the bus services to and from campus.
These are just some of the green initiatives at CSU, along with the ongoing CSU ‘War on Waste’ campaign reduced disposable coffee cups across campuses by 50 per cent.
“We have a reputation to protect as being the first carbon neutral university and we collaborate with the University of Tasmania to think of new environmental initiatives,” Ms Witney-Soanes said.