The Otago Polytechnic has joined forces with the Queenstown Lakes sustainable business programme, giving students the opportunity to work on projects revolving around sustainable business practice.
The inaugural course has spawned a cleantech project for Wanaka involving introducing a new form of fuel, moving from traditional diesel fuel to environmentally-friendly biodiesel – chosen because of high vulnerability of the town to fuel price fluctuations.
Biodiesel is made from a combination of recycled cooking oil and locally-grown canola oil. Biodiesel produces half the amount of CO2 of fossil fuel and, due to a government subsidy, would be sold at the same price as regular diesel.
Wanaka was chosen for the project because of its previous success with environmentally friendly projects including the Wanaka WasteBusters, which the biodiesel pump station would be placed next to.
Students have estimated a joining cost of $100 for members switching to biodiesel. Members would fill up on biodiesel and pay using a swipe card, which they would pay on monthly.
The costs for the project were kept to a minimum with the students carrying out most of the research themselves. The staff and students
involved in the project received support from local businesses including Eco Me Ltd and the Queenstown District Council.
Programme director Steve Henry says the course is a win-win for both the students and the town, which was looking for a cheaper alternative to fuel.
“We have several business people studying part time and looking for ways to innovate in their businesses and fulltime students developing projects or conducting research. Much of the study is about applying decision making frameworks to solve issues presented by the global realities of the 21st century."
Enrolments for the programme are now open for 2012, where students would continue to work on the Wanaka project as part of their course.
As well as the group project, they also work on individual projects of their own choosing or generated in conjoint with the centre.
The programmes are offered through blended delivery – block courses,
online work and webinars. Block courses are offered in Wanaka, and for
2012 in response to demand, will also be available in Raglan through a
partnership with Solscape.