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Published on: April 1, 2022, 4:33 p.m.
University social responsibility
  • Sri Sri University: committed to preserving and nourishing our planet

By Rajita Kulkarni. The author is President, Sri Sri University

Institutions have a responsibility to conduct their operations in a sustainable and ethical manner. The benefit of it is borne out by the fact that ‘responsible businesses’ have a positive correlation with ‘return’ in terms of both profit and impact. Managing all stakeholder interests, forging win-win solutions and creating a long-term sustainable operating model have become fundamental for success. The SDGs give a comprehensive framework, contributing to which will help businesses make a lasting and positive impact on the challenges faced by humanity, like poverty reduction, quality education, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth.

At Sri Sri University (SSU), we are committed to preserving and nourishing our planet and take ‘university social responsibility’ seriously. All our operations, initiatives and efforts impact every SDG in a constructive & lasting manner. Particularly of focus is SDG-7.

We are doing several things in this regard. We follow the prevailing energy efficiency standards in India for our renovation and constructions of buildings. The policy for energy efficiency standards for buildings has been aimed to decrease the carbon emissions, to optimise electricity consumption and minimise wastage to reduce the running cost.

The relevant measures include the buildings designed for reduced heat absorption and temperature control, natural ventilation, lighting and natural laterite stone for construction, smart classes, use of LED lights in the hostels, and use of local materials for construction. To enhance energy efficiency, the 8Kw solar panels are installed in the campus, which generate 35 units of electricity every day and about 13,000 units per year.

There are energy meters in every building to monitor electrical consumption. Some of the energy-efficient appliances used are Grundfos pumps for water applications in the campus, solar streetlights and pumps, LED streetlights and air source water heaters with COP of 4 for hot water. The VRV (variable refrigerant flow) technology for air-conditioners does energy saving of almost 35 per cent.

Carbon emissions per capita of India stand at 1.6 tonnes well below the global average of 4.4 tonnes, while its share of global total CO2 emissions is about 6.4 per cent. SSU had total carbon emissions in the year 2019 as 1,692 tonnes, the per capita emissions were well below one.

Skill development on solar energy: SSU Skill Centre has an advanced Solar Lab, equipped with all applications of ‘solar renewable energy’, along with basic electrical lab to cater solar trainees and electrical trainees, in collaboration with Schneider Electricals, since December 2015. So far, we have trained over 300 rural unemployed youths. After completion of their training, we have facilitated their placement and helped them with self-employment. Our trainees are placed at Tata Steel, BSL and Jindal Steel & Power.

Low-carbon innovation: SSU is committed to developing renewable energy in the campus and to assist people through various start-up schemes. Sandhyasri Solar is one of the incubated start-ups of the university, the vision of which is to promote solar technology across the state of Odisha. The company supplies low-cost solar energy to farmers and under-privileged families. The university assists the company in mentoring and networking support.

  • Sandhyasri Solar is one of the incubated start-ups of the university, the vision of which is to promote solar technology across the state of Odisha

Key result areas: From Sri Sri University’s success in these initiatives, it is safe to say that whether it’s an academic institution or a business enterprise, if the following three KRAs are addressed effectively, there could be substantial success in achieving SDG-7:

• Encourage the three ‘R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle;

• Invest in renewable energy; and

• Reward responsible behaviours

The empowerment of board members towards SDGs is the critical success factor for any corporate for success in achieving SDGs. In addition to this, other critical success factors are impact-oriented business model, integrating SDGs into the business strategy, defining operational KPIs to meet SDGs, productive engagement with community, methods and tools for using SDGs and dedicated resources for ownership of SDGs. 

The perception about outcomes of SDGs varies from organisation to organisation. The prime outcome of contribution towards any SDG will have a definite social value creation, which has a high correlation with the sustainability of the business. Not only the profit but also the responsible business behaviour will have a great role for organic growth of any enterprise.

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