The University’s Office for Sustainability has released its third sustainability report Building Futures this week, highlighting the University’s social, environmental and economic performance for 2012.
Utilising the Global Reporting Initiative’s G3.1 reporting guidelines, the report was externally assured by Ernst & Young and continues La Trobe’s tradition of producing arguably the most comprehensive sustainability report published by a University in the world. A point emphasised as its 2011 predecessor Creating Futures was awarded 5th Best Report globally behind corporate giants such as Nike, Intel and Coca Cola in London recently.
Environmental performance progressing
Stephen Muir, Director of Sustainability was pleased with the report’s outcomes, despite some results showing that La Trobe has plenty of work to do.
‘We are aware that our sustainability ambitions are a work in progress,’ he said, that, ‘our environmental performance has progressed significantly over the last 12 months. Reductions in the amount of energy we consume and decreases in the amount of greenhouse gas our buildings emit, show that our plans and targets are working effectively.’
Water and paper use per person also declined at the University, fulfilling targets that had been set in the 2010 report, but the news wasn’t as good when it came to La Trobe’s waste and recycling programs.
‘Over the last 12 months we recycled less materials than we had in previous years and the University also sent more waste to landfill than ever before,’ he continued, ‘these results show that while we’re making progress in some areas, we need to be really diligent when it comes to others.’
Increase in student initiatives
Another positive mentioned in Building Futures was the increased involvement of students in sustainability initiatives during 2012. Students groups organised and ran, with sponsorship from the University, both a Fairtrade Expo as part of International Fair Trade fortnight, and the 2012 Asia Pacific Model United Nations Conference (AMUNC) which focused its topics on sustainability and ‘Rights, Recognition and Responsibility’.
‘The social aspects of sustainability are just as important to us as creating positive environmental change,’ he said, ‘to see our students recognise and highlight this was perhaps the defining outcome of our sustainability effort in 2012.’
La Trobe has a proud record of reporting its sustainability performance, and has won numerous awards since the publication in 2010 of its inaugural report Responsible Futures.