Less Energy and Food Waste, More Recycling Saves Money

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In Australia, Avondale University College’s green initiatives are paying off, leaders say.

Initiatives to improve electricity consumption and waste management, some of which students suggested, are not only saving money for Avondale University College in Australia but also reducing its environmental impact.

The school’s energy bill is down year-on-year, the amount of food waste is down, and the volume of recycling is up. “I’m chuffed,” said the university college’s vice-president for finance, Kelvin Peuser. “It’s great to see an outcome that’s good for the environment and for our bottom line. It makes you feel good.”

The New South Wales government’s Energy Savings Scheme provided a financial incentive to upgrade the lighting in selected buildings such as the Chan Shun Auditorium and the residence halls on the Lake Macquarie campus. The upgrade is a switch from inefficient fluorescent fixtures to new, energy-efficient LEDs.

The first three steps of a four-stage process to upgrade the air conditioning in the library is complete. The result is a more efficient system that cools the air more consistently. Timers now control other air conditioners on campus.

The installation of 840 solar panels on the roofs of the library, the cafeteria, and the Ellen G. White Memorial Building is generating electricity Avondale uses during the day. And a renegotiation of Avondale’s contract has reduced electricity rates. These led to a 7-percent saving against budget in 2018 and an estimated 12 percent (from AU$315,000 to $275,000, or about US$215,000 to $188,000) in 2019.

Students enrolled in the unit Environmental Issues this past year get part of the credit for the latest initiative: the replacement of single 240-liter (63-gallon) general waste bins with dual 240-liter general waste and commingled recycling bins on campus. The containers are housed in new metal-framed shelters, for which the students suggested locations. Acting on this recommendation from the class evaluation of waste management at Avondale “is a double win,” said the students’ lecturer, Jason Morton. “We’re now redirecting waste from landfills and saving money by doing so.”

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