Griffith Business School is accelerating plans to dramatically reduce carbon emissions from its MBA program through a solar power initiative at the South Bank campus in Brisbane.

The program, led by the Griffith Centre for Sustainable Enterprise, has already achieved a 15.5 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the past two years since the Carbon Neutrality Project was introduced.

“This reduction was achieved despite a 15 per cent increase in student enrolments and associated teaching and administration load,” said MBA Director Associate Professor Chris Fleming.

This represents a saving of 67 tonnes of greenhouse emissions from the program, which has been achieved through changed practices in staff travel, waste management, product procurement and printing.

The MBA program has also invested in carbon offset projects such as a hydro power station in Gansu Province in northwest China and a wind power project in Tamil Nadu, Southern India.

Associate Professor Fleming saw the latest initiative to install solar panels on the Graduate Centre at Griffith University’s South Bank campus as a direct approach to reducing carbon emissions.

Vital carbon-reduction project

“This initiative is a major step in our efforts to deliver greater efficiencies to this vital carbon-reduction project,” Associate Professor Fleming said.

A recent assessment of the MBA program’s carbon footprint found that 87 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions were due to electricity consumption.

“Our discussion led to the creation of a business case for investment in a solar photovoltaic system for the Graduate Centre,” said Associate Professor Fleming.

Associate Professor Chris Fleming

MBA Director Associate Professor Chris Fleming

The Graduate Centre houses the MBA Director, the MBA program’s administrative staff and is the primary teaching location for the program’s on-campus students. The solar photovoltaic system, scheduled to be installed in 2017, will produce up to 80 per cent of the total electricity requirements of the MBA offices.

“The business case was significantly aided by the fact that the cost of purchasing and retiring carbon credits could be avoided if the program’s emissions from electricity were reduced,” said Associate Professor Fleming.

The Carbon Neutrality Project, which was implemented in 2014, has established the Griffith MBA program as the only one of its kind in Australia, and one of only three in the world, to have a carbon neutral certification.

Read: MBA backs endangered orangutans through carbon offset

Dr Robert Hales, Program Director of the Griffith Centre for Sustainable Enterprise, said the solar initiative was major step forward for the sustainability of the MBA program by moving towards renewable energy with offsets to complement carbon neutrality.

“Griffith Business School considers sustainability and being fit for the future as a high priority and this is reflected in the commitment to investment in renewables and offsetting,” Dr Hales.

Sustainability objectives

“An important shift in sustainability has occurred in the Griffith Business School in that our sustainability objectives are directly linked to the objectives of a teaching program.”

The Carbon Neutrality Project has led the MBA program to be selected as a candidate for the 2016 Corporate Knights Global 100 Sustainable MBA ranking, which is due to be released in October.

“I am delighted that the Griffith MBA has made the decision to become the first MBA Program in Australia, and one of very few in the world to be carbon neutral,” said Griffith Business School Pro Vice Chancellor Professor David Grant.

“The Griffith Business School is committed to embedding sustainable and responsible practices into research, teaching, business processes and campus life.

“Our flagship MBA program, with its core values of sustainable business practices and responsible leadership, is at the epicentre of our commitment to these ideals and is a model for our other programs to follow.”