Monash leads the way to Net Zero

Universities play a vital role in educating and addressing climate change, and Monash’s Net Zero Initiative is an exemplar of what can be achieved.

Monash sustainable building

Transformational change is required if the world is to achieve the safe climate goals outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement. This was the key driver that led Monash to become the first Australian university to announce a net zero target in 2017.

Our net zero by 2030 target and the 12-year roadmap to achieve it was incorporated into the $135 million Monash Net Zero Initiative and structured around ClimateWorks Australia’s four pillars of decarbonisation: energy efficiency, renewable energy, electrification and carbon offsetting for residual emissions.

As a large consumer of energy, investing in decarbonisation makes financial sense for Monash. Three-quarters of Monash’s 115 mega-tonnes of emissions were associated with heating and cooling the 150 buildings on it’s Australian campuses. By securing long term renewable energy sources and reducing energy use, a $15 million annual saving on energy costs is predicted from 2030 as a result of meeting the net zero target.

To date we have upgraded 40,000 lights across our 4 campuses to energy efficient LED lights and have reduced the energy consumption of our buildings by optimising air handling systems, heating and cooling equipment, and building automation systems.

We are actively shifting to sourcing our energy from 100 per cent renewable sources, with 4MW of solar panels installed across our 4 Australian campuses. We have also signed a long-term power purchase agreement with the Murra Warra wind farm to help meet its 100 per cent renewable power target.

We are electrifying our campuses and will end our dependence on gas by 2030. We have built 5 award winning all-electric buildings which will support the process of electrification, and have deployed electric vehicle chargers for staff, students and public use.

Monash is developing a microgrid that will control how and when energy is used across 20 buildings at the Clayton campus, and provide a model for how to power a sustainable and reliable electricity network and maximise value for customers. Two commercial scale battery systems connected to the microgrid will allow us to provide flexibility to reduce our energy costs and integrate more renewables into the system.

Our campus has become a test bed for trialling new technologies and solutions to support the energy transition. Monash is using a ‘living lab’ research and education platform to help translate new knowledge into regulatory advice, develop new commercial business models, and develop the net zero leaders of tomorrow.

Universities play a vital role in educating and addressing climate change, and Monash’s Net Zero Initiative is an exemplar of what can be achieved. The scale and speed at which Monash has acted is globally relevant and applicable to cities and organisations across the country, and world.

Scott Ferraro, Program Director for the Net Zero Initiative says that “As part of our commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2030, Monash is aiming not only to decarbonise our own operations, but to also take a leadership role to demonstrate to others that it is possible. This includes sharing the learnings from our lived experience on this journey and utilising our R&D capability to develop solutions”.

Further learning is underway to assess net zero mobility opportunities for Clayton campus and the surrounding Monash Technology Precinct. Monash is also beginning to turn its focus to its supply chain and global operations, and the influence it can have in helping others on the net zero journey.

For further information and resources visit the Net Zero Initiative website.