With 5 steps, how Bengaluru-based Public Affairs Centre turned itself into a carbon-neutral campus
While the city of Bengaluru is fighting to retain the tag ‘Garden City’, an organisation in the outskirts of the burgeoning city has shown the way by turning its campus carbon-neutral.
Think tank Public Affairs Centre (PAC), which predominantly acts as a catalyst between citizens and civil society organisations, has converted its campus into an eco-friendly space. In 2014, PAC consciously decided to put its 2-acre campus at Jigani to good use and build sustainable solutions around it. From solar energy panels that cater to 90 percent of the power requirements, to rainwater harvesting to growing vegetables on campus, today the centre has it all.
Speaking about this initiative, R. Suresh, Director, Public Affairs Centre, said,
PAC’s aim as an institution is to be sustainable in all aspects of its functioning and this is just an extension of that endeavour.
Today, the organisation has become a one-stop catalyst promoting five different types of environment-conservation techniques. Some of the initiatives undertaken by PAC to go green include –
Solar power panels
Instead of relying on grid electricity and fuel (to feed generators during power outages) PAC installed solar PV rooftop systems for captive consumption that could be integrated with existing electricity infrastructure to offset a majority of the organisation’s energy needs. Today, PAC’s Solar PV Hybrid Power Plant has a capacity of 9.9 kWp, easily catering to the current usage of the campus, which stands at 1,480 units per month. The overall cost of the installation is Rs 16 lakh and, on an average, the panels generate 50 units of power per day and the power generated during weekends is fed to the BESCOM Grid as surplus.
An advantage of this plant is that the excess generation of power is fed to grid through net metering at Rs 9.56 per unit from government, and it also reduces pollution.
Automated weather station
The organisation today houses an in-built air quality monitoring station to measure carbon monoxide, suspended particulate matter, nitrous oxide etc., in the air, along with the temperature, humidity and rainfall.
Rain water harvesting system
The current system flaunts an annual potential from PAC’s campus of seven million litres of water, which will recharge the ground water in addition to the existing water storage tanks. The centre has a plot area of 8,108sqm, the PAC weather station is one among 17 such stations across Bengaluru with an automated weather station. The PAC office building roof area is 736sqm and it has the potential of 5,43,959l from the roof area.
Production of vegetables on campus
About one acre area on the campus has been converted into an organic vegetable garden. Every week, the team of around 40 people in PAC takes some of the produce home. Members of the Environmental Governance Group also went to the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens recently to understand how they can grow vegetables in a more seasonal manner. This process has encouraged many PAC employees to encourage organic farming and avoid chemical fertilizers and use compost manure and farm yard manure.
In-house composting pit to recycle waste
The waste generated at PAC are basically segregated into their dry and wet forms. The wet comprises of tea bags, residues of food items and Dry waste such as waste papers, wrappers covers. The campus has two large composts for dumping the wastes and making it as a compost and same is used for their gardening and landscaping purposes.
PAC, as a body, undertakes and supports research, disseminates research findings, facilitates collective citizen action through awareness-raising and capacity-building activities, and provides advisory services to state and non-state agencies. The centre is globally known for its pioneering ‘Citizen Report Cards’, benchmarking studies used to improve public services, as well as their work on electoral transparency, public works quality monitoring tools and approaches and the recently launched audits of the Right to Information Act and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in India.
PAC works with a lean team of 20-25 researchers, and all of its work is open source and available for anyone to explore and use freely. PAC attracts a vast range of persons who are interested in making a difference in policy spaces. It has actively engaged with networks of citizen groups, and has plans to work closely with corporates to realise the dream of a fully working constitution.
Infosys, the country’s second-largest information technology services company has a plan of going green by 2018. Last December, the company had made a provision of $65 million and had spent Rs 20 crore. The initiatives included finding solutions for electricity, carbon emission, water management, renewable energy, waste management and biodiversity. Tata Institute of Social Sciences, on the other hand, has introduced a waste management with a biogas plant. It has a capacity of converting 500kg of kitchen waste into biogas, the initiative has saved the institute close to 4,000kg of LPG.
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Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College at Ludhiana was the first college to go carbon neutral. The campus earned the tag by banning plastic bags and by deploying solar water heating systems in the hostels to begin with. In 2008, Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, started its solid waste management programme with the aim of ‘throwing nothing away’. Though they have actively contributed towards building a sustainable future, there’s always a ‘what next’ that bothers ecologists and public.
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