AUT: How we managed to kill the ‘bill’

13 May, 2021
Energy Efficiency

Energy saving is an ongoing job at AUT. Whether it’s upgrading older buildings or finetuning our newer buildings, the energy team are constantly looking at ways we can reduce our overall consumption.

Despite 2020 being peppered with COVID lockdowns, they were not the only contributor to impressive savings for AUT’s energy bill. In 2020 we used around 14,867,474 kWh of energy and 2,811,217 kWh of gas. This was down from 19,084,862 and 4,511,811 in 2019 and represents savings of around $800,000 and 467 tonnes of carbon emissions. About 40% of the reduction in 2020 is due to the COVID lockdowns but the rest is due to operational and efficiency changes.

Energy efficiency savings since 2019 have been achieved through the analysis of energy consumption by building and building operations data (through our building management systems) to identify the high energy buildings.

High energy buildings were then targeted for energy efficiency improvements and management of peak loads. We then implemented low-cost but high-impact energy saving changes. Some of these projects included:

  • UV lights in 7 buildings and teaching spaces, across the three campuses, were put on time schedules
  • A publicity campaign to encourage staff and students to switch off unused lights and equipment
  • Energy meters installed to monitor building operations
  • Lights being replaced with energy saving LEDs
  • Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning upgrades in many buildings

In addition, AUT would not have seen such high energy savings during COVID lockdowns if not for the efficient way in which the buildings were shut down at the start of each lockdown. In a bid to make the remaining electricity used more sustainable, AUT has switched energy providers to Meridian who provide a higher percentage of renewable energy.

AUT has a target to reduce CO2 emissions associated with energy by 50% by 2025 with a baseline of 2015 and a short-term goal to reduce energy by 2GWh from 2019-2021. 2GWh is the equivalent of powering 286 average NZ homes for a year (7000 kWh per house/annum).

AUT is also committed to implementing all of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and in particular Goal 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy which involves improving energy efficiency. Energy savings are continuing this year with many more projects planned for 2021.

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