Chula President pledged to move ahead with greenhouse gas reduction on the Chulalongkorn University campus targeting Net Zero Greenhouse Gas Emission by 2050 and unveiled 5 pilot strategies for minimizing carbon dioxide emissions and also achieving campus sustainability.
Currently, Net Zero Emission is an issue that many countries around the world are focusing on and urgently addressing following the mandate of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 26th Conference on Climate Change (COP26) in 2021. The mandate supports the goal of limiting the global average surface temperature from rising more than 1.5°C to prevent catastrophes caused by extreme weather events.
“Chulalongkorn University has begun collecting all greenhouse gas emissions data within the university in the academic year 2015 and found that a total of greenhouse gas emissions was 54,955.89 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq), the majority of which resulted from electricity use on campus. This equals 1.21 tons CO2eq emitted per student and personnel that year. Based on this finding, Chula has developed a plan and issued policies and measures to reduce greenhouse gases more earnestly and intensively,” said Professor Dr. Orathai Chavalparit, Head of the Chula Race to Zero Working Group on Policy and Planning, and lecturer from the Department of Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University.
As a citizen of the country and the world, Chula recognizes its responsibility to the public and to take this issue seriously and to be in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), one of Chula’s strategies for 2021-2024. The President of Chulalongkorn University, therefore, announced the pledge to reduce greenhouse gases on campus last September with two main goals as follows:
1. “Carbon Neutrality by 2040”
2. “Net Zero Greenhouse Gas Emission by 2050”
To reach its Net Zero goal, Chula needs cooperation from everyone in the Chula community and plans are needed to reduce energy consumption in both the short and long terms. Chula has designed a five-strategy Chula ’2050 Net-Zero Transition’ plan as follows:
1. Energy Transition
Chulalongkorn University has replaced its existing energy system with a Solar-PV development — a Zero-Carbon Energy System.
“Chulalongkorn University campus is in an urban area, so space is limited, and solar energy is most suitable for the university.”
Chula has signed an agreement with the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) for a pilot project to install rooftop solar panels for 65 buildings across the campus. Currently, installation has been completed in 14 buildings, and installation in the remaining buildings is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.
“If (the panels) are installed and used in all buildings, Chula will replace 25% of the university’s electricity consumption.”
In addition, Chula will concentrate on appropriate green building designs for new constructions, such as the layout and direction of the buildings to correlate with sunlight, while emphasizing the use of natural light to reduce the use of electricity.
2. Improving Energy System Resilience
Chula has conducted a lifetime inspection and evaluated the efficiency of electrical equipment to convert them to energy-efficient ones in common buildings such as light bulbs and air conditioners. In addition, there are improvements in indoor air conditioning systems by installing heat monitors, ventilation, and cooling systems, as well as the Building Energy Management (CU BEMs) in buildings throughout campus to effectively and efficiently monitor and control energy consumption in each building through applications and dashboards. These systems which can report peak load periods and release of carbon dioxide (CO2) is designed by the Smart Grid Research Unit (SGRU), Department of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering in collaboration with Tokyo University and the domestic and international industrial sector with funding support from the Energy Conservation Promotion Fund (ENCON Fund), Ministry of Energy.
3. Creating Green Growth
Chula has supported national and international research and cooperation including green investment to develop carbon-free technology. The Bio-Circular-Green Economy Technology & Engineering Center, Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University, has collaborated with the government sector, private sector, industrial sector, and public organizations under the name Thailand CCUS Consortium aiming at planning, research, and development of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technology. This is an important step in the repurposing of CO2 that was originally seen as pollution, for value-added commercial uses and elimination of pollution for the environment.
In addition, Chula researchers have successfully converted carbon dioxide into methanol using less energy and giving high yield as part of a research project Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Conversion to Higher-Valued Products with the support of the Research Cess Fund (RCF) of the Malaysia-Thai Joint Authority (MTJA).
In 2022, 2565, Chula has been focusing more on energy transition and clean energy. Chula Faculty of Engineering has signed an agreement with Hitachi Energy to promote and support the education, research, development, and technological learning on energy-related topics such as carbon neutrality, microgrid, micro electricity generation, and management system for communities using mainly renewable energy, Battery Energy Storage System (BESS), electric mobility (e-Mobility), green hydrogen, as well as studying sustainable energy future.
4. Lifestyle Transition
Chula has also campaigned for students and personnel to use public buses within the campus with choices of low-carbon transportation such as electric buses, bicycles, electric tuk-tuks, and electric scooters. Covered walkways have also been installed to connect various buildings within the University to facilitate the commute of the Chula community.
Chula has also implemented the Chula Zero Waste Project on campus and surrounding communities to strive for zero waste from the source to the destination and reduce the amount of waste to landfill using the 3Rs rules, including Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Participation from the Chula community, including students, personnel, and vendors on campus has also been encouraged through awareness building so that everyone pays attention to their environmental impacts, and the waste generated in their daily life on campus, as well as changing their behavior to a more sustainable lifestyle for a sustainable environment.
Earnest implementation during the first five years of the project helped reduce waste by about 40 percent which is more than the original target of 30 percent and demonstrated the potential for management to drive cognitive-behavioral change in waste management. The project also set a goal to reuse 75 percent of waste by 2040.
Moreover, Chula encourages personnel and students to carry personal glasses or water bottles to reduce the use of single-use plastic cups, while preparing drinking water dispensers, and campaigning for stores in the cafeterias to substitute biodegradable Zero waste containers for single-use plastic bags. In the future, Chula plans to support a low-carbon diet to reduce meat consumption and promote the consumption of low-carbon plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, or protein from legumes, as well as reducing the consumption of processed foods, and the use of single-use plastic food packaging. These measures require cooperation from cafeteria vendors on campus.
5. The Social Transition Social Support System
To encourage the Chula community to be part of the greenhouse gas reduction drive within the campus, there are plans to organize activities and projects such as discussion forums, short clip contests, and exchanges of information between students and personnel through online media channels. This is to raise the awareness of the Chula community on the importance and consequences of climate change that would lead to behavioral change and new conscience to prepare for a sustainable low-carbon society.
“Although the management system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that Chula has adopted is a system that has been used abroad, many systems are not yet widespread in Thailand. Therefore, Chula would like to be one of the leaders of change and a model of educational institutions that pilot the development of green research and innovation that can reduce carbon dioxide emissions in a real and sustainable way. We believe that we can and will expand to other institutions or agencies in Thailand to work together towards a sustainable low-carbon society.” Professor Dr. Orathai concluded.