The University of Pretoria’s commitment to protecting our environment is getting another energy boost. Facilities Management Director Prof Susan Adendorff shared some of the “green” initiatives UP is embarking on.
Prof Adendorff says solar panels have been erected on the roofs of the Merensky Library and Technical Services Buildings on the Hatfield Campus. “This assists in reducing UP’s overall electricity consumption from the Tshwane municipality. There are plans in the pipeline to extend the use of solar panels to other UP sites such as Boukunde, Natural Sciences, Future Africa Development, Engineering 4, Experimental Farm, and the Onderstepoort Animal Hospital.”
Solar panels on the Merensky Library roof
But it’s not just in the area of electricity that UP is being prudent. UP is also harvesting rainwater and making use of the many registered boreholes around our campuses for irrigation purposes. This helps reduce our consumption from municipal reservoirs.
Prof Adendorff says UP uses sophisticated technologies to monitor its buildings’ consumption of electricity and water in real time. “This helps minimise any loss due to leaks and faulty equipment. Being able to measure the electricity and water consumption per building also helps bring use down. This is so even for the various student residences.”
Another green area that UP is strong on is recycling. An e-waste recycling container is available on the Hatfield campus, near the Humanities and IT buildings. Old computers, cellphones, batteries, and other e-waste can be disposed of here. A facility for recycling glass, paper and other waste is also available, managed by a private contractor that also monitors this process.
Did you know that UP even produces its own compost and bark chips? This is done at the Experimental Farm, where all our green waste is taken and processed into usable compost that’s then reintroduced to feed our beautiful flora. UP has also introduced a tree-planting programme and has planted 1 735 trees since 2014. The policy is that if there is a need for a tree to be removed, it needs to be replaced by planting three more trees on campus. For any new structures to be erected, the design teams are mandated to comply with a Four Star Green Rating.
But there’s even more: UP assists the surrounding community by embarking on clean-up projects of local streams that have been contaminated by pollutants that can cause harm to the local flora and fauna. One such project involves the rehabilitation of the Hartbeestspruit river.
Prof Adendorff says that, together with the Department of University Relations, an awareness campaign across all campuses is being launched soon to further reduce electricity and water consumption.
The best news though is that, over the past year, UP has halved its carbon footprint – well done and let’s continue to “go for green!”