The University of Worcester Students’ Union has won funding from the National Union of Students (NUS) to implement its innovative project Energize Worcester to tackle poor energy efficiency in private student accommodation. Competing against 120 other projects and Unions Worcester was chosen to be one of 25 projects from the funding given to the NUS from the Higher Education Funding Council for England to Green Student Unions and their students.
Energize Worcester -the transformative sustainability project aims to build on a previous successful pilot, where local landlords and students were provided with practical skills and knowledge in energy efficiency and access to Green Deal energy efficiency assessments. The new scheme adds a behaviour change element to the project. Students will be encouraged to use less energy by special software and house specific information. Students will be trained to become energy assessors and provide home visits to encourage occupants to use their energy wisely and be shown how to set up their boiler controls. The NUS is providing Worcester Students’ Union with the funding required for the first two years of the project’s delivery, with long term legacy being built into the project to ensure that its positive impact keeps expanding over the coming years. Initially, the two-year plan has set ambitious energy reduction targets of 8% in Year 1 and 10% in Year 2.
“We’re delighted to have been given the funding for this exciting project. Energize Worcester will not only benefit the students involved in the delivery of the project in terms of experience and employability, but will also save students money in the long run through encouraging landlords to make their properties more energy efficient and, in turn, saving them money on their utility bills.”Worcester Students’ Union President, Kynton Swingle
The project will be run in partnership with Transition Worcester, a group of local residents who are committed to working with local communities, organisations and local Government to help develop positive sustainability solutions. Non student shared housing is also traditionally characterised by being hard and costly to heat. With the volunteer support this other significant contributor to Worcester’s carbon emissions will also get advice and support, helping to reach the carbon reduction targets set by the County.
The group’s Chairman, Adam Scott, says: “The Energize Worcester project fits in extremely well with our approach to local energy issues – Transition Worcester are taking a similar approach to neighbourhood action among local residents. The University of Worcester and the Students’ Union has had a really positive influence on Worcester over the last decade or so, and I am sure that this project will be a further great example of how they work in the local community.”
Katy Boom, director of environmental sustainability at the University commented “This a really exciting opportunity for our students to have a lasting legacy on housing in Worcester and changing the habits of students as they begin to live independently. Many students take part in energy saving projects in their first year whilst living on campus in Halls, this project helps to truly embed these good energy use behaviours so they will stay with students throughout their lives.”
The funding award is from the NUS’s ‘Student Green Fund’, a £5m funding pot which aims to promote sustainability projects in universities across the country, whilst engaging 50,000 students nationally, and embedding sustainability into the core purpose of higher education across England. The first year of the project works in Worcester, the model is then tested in another student union, the aim being to create a model that could work in any university or college town. The team acknowledge it is a challenging project working in tenanted properties with transient occupants.
Katy Boom goes on to say ‘if we can make a difference in this challenging area of the market the rewards will be significant and lasting. Helping to educate students who will go on to be the key leaders and decision makers of the future will help the UK to meet its challenging carbon emissions reduction targets. On the way, keeping student cosy and warm and out of fuel poverty is also rewarding gains. Katy reminds us that UK properties are amongst the least thermally efficient in Western Europe, representing 28% of UK’s total CO2 emissions each year.
Look out for the adverts on campus for student Energy Assessors and student Energy Advocates, both roles are paid and come with industry professional training. The five energy Advocates posts will be trained to a City Guilds energy qualification.
The overall Student Green Fund project has been overwhelmingly supported, it is expected that HEFCE will give further funding in future years. Each project employs many student and project manager jobs both full and part time. Keep a look out next summer or stay subscribed to STO to hear about the jobs first.