In March this year, the Department of Geography at the University of Worcester held its annual public conference that focuses on a specific theme in global development. The conference, organised collaboratively with the local Beacons Development Education Centre, was attended by students from across the university, as well as University staff, Beacons volunteers, members of the public, and representatives from… Read more →
Above: Highlights – University of Worcester – Net Zero Carbon by 2030
University of Worcester – Net Zero Carbon by 2030
– Welcome by Professor David Green, University of Worcester Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive
– Video footage of Professor David Green by Sheridan Courtney
– Carbon Story by Katy Boom, Director of Sustainability:
Having declared a climate emergency, last year we set a target to be net-zero carbon by 2030.
We have been measuring and reporting our carbon since 2008, both direct and indirect emissions. Our total carbon footprint in the academic year 2018/19 was about 22,000 tonnes.
Since we began reporting our direct carbon has reduced by about 50%, but our indirect carbon is up by about 17%.
Why is this?
Direct carbon is the energy we use and the vehicles we own.
We have made lots of changes to lighting, heating, invested in on-site renewable energy and changed our fleet vehicles to be electric. Therefore, they have gone down.
Since 2009 we’ve had a revolving grant and used this mostly to change the lighting on campus to very efficient LEDs. We’ve also been improving the fabric of our buildings to make them more energy-efficient by adding insulation and double glazing. We have also invested significantly in solar thermal and PV panels to heat our hot water and to generate our own electricity.
We have been helping students and staff to change their behaviour and since 2010. This year half the resident students took part in student switch-off learning ways to save energy.
However, we can’t do this on our own, and it saves carbon and money if we share heating and cooling and become part of a community heat network.
The university is working with the councils to see if we can do this in Worcester. The government is funding a techno-economic feasibility study for a heat network for Worcester based around the university.
The heat source for this might be the river or perhaps drilling down to find a geothermal heat source. This is currently being investigated.
We have a grant from the government to audit all our buildings and work out exactly what we need to do, when and how much it will cost so we can publish a credible action plan to decarbonise.
Indirect carbon emissions have gone up in this period because the university has doubled its students and staff and gone from one campus to three.
Of our total carbon footprint of 22,000 tonnes just over 3,000 tonnes come from energy used on campus but most of our carbon, about 14.5 tonnes, comes from the things we buy and how our students and staff travel to campus.
The University is very committed to getting to zero carbon and some of the ways we’ve been reducing our indirect carbon is in our canteens. Low carbon meals are promoted to nudge us all to reduce our meat and dairy consumption and increase eating more plant-based foods.
We have been working across Europe sharing best practice with other universities to increase sustainable campus travel. We have a bike-share fleet including ebikes and we are looking at expanding the fleet into other organisations across the city to help reduce commuting by car.
To reduce procurement emissions, we work with our suppliers and give them free access to a tool to help them work with their supply chains to reduce their emissions.
In June we had 430 suppliers registered, who have committed to 9,000 actions and nearly 4,000 of these are either completed or being worked on.
Having identified what makes up our carbon footprint, we’ve worked out we can reduce it by 50% in the next 9 years.
What about the rest of the carbon we need to remove to be zero carbon by 2030?
We need to invest in credible schemes that will take carbon out of the atmosphere, such as planting trees and soil conservation projects
In short, we are aiming to be low carbon and high nature.
Our biggest area of impact are our students and staff, that’s around 12,000 people or about 10% of the population of Worcester. To help our race to zero people need to understand carbon and what are the high impact solutions. We offer 8 hours of carbon literacy training to all. It is important when our students graduate, they leave with the skills, knowledge and experience of climate action and sustainability.
We think students and staff working together on projects they’ve designed is the best way to do this. We offer students volunteering and paid jobs to support these activities. Last year we had 16 teams engaging about 800 staff and students. He’s a few examples of their projects:
Student and Staff Projects at The University of Worcester:
- Hazaar, a zero waste online swap shop for students
- A visual style for the staff mental health network
- Introducing ergonomic and energy saving cleaning methods
- Nature cams on campus supporting wellbeing
- Take a break campaign
- Peaceful spaces to decompress
- Bringing the climate emergency into education
- Hedgehog highways and conservation
- Teaching children sustainability through library activities
- Promoting low carbon meals in the canteen
- Encourage sustainable travel to campus
- Swapped paper systems to digital
- Move the world. Teaching children sustainable development goals
Teaching and Research Projects
– My name is Elena Lengthorn. I work in the School of Education. We introduce the SDGs in the core professional studies program for all our secondary teachers in training. It includes the background to the goals, a critical evaluation of the roles and responsibilities of educators, and insights on how the SDGs can be taught in practice. This year we held an educator climate assembly to support the development of a course on education in a climate emergency. This innovative program includes elements of carbon literacy and nature connectedness, climate anxiety and the SDGs.
– My name is Paulo Mora and I teach brand management. Nowadays consumers demand sustainable and responsible brands and small and large corporations are using the United Nations Sustainable Framework. My students implement the same tools used by these companies to measure their impact and identify areas for possible strategic development.
– Hello, my name is Rachel Cooper. I teach responsible business and accounting and finance at Worcester Business School. How are we going to finance zero carbon?
Businesses are looking for graduates with knowledge, skills, and experience to make this happen.
Our aim is to inspire future business leaders and we bring experts in to explore what is really happening. How do businesses report and deliver results? There is momentum and our graduates are ready.
– Hi, I’m Daniel and as a psychologist, I’m interested in social forces on our behaviour, including altruism such as kindness and helping behaviour and the role it can play in romantic long-term relationships. In a paper published recently, we looked at pro environmentalism. We found that people find it desirable in long-term partners and, we display it more in the presence of potential partners. In our courses here in psychology, we look at global themes, including climate change and the environment so that students can understand the role of psychology and helping make a difference in the world.
– My name is Alan Dixon and I’ve been doing research and teaching in sustainable development for over 25 years and I’m looking at the interrelationships between society and the environment in Sub Saharan Africa. I’ve been exploring how wetlands contribute to food security, poverty reduction and climate resilience and work with different stakeholders to develop wetland management strategies that balanced development with environmental sustainability. This informs the teaching on our geography courses such as our fieldwork to Malawi, where students gain first-hand experience of sustainability and climate change issues in the global South.
– I’m Ian Maddock and I’m a geographer and professor of River Science. My research involves investigating ways to use un-crewed aerial vehicles or drones to map and measure rivers, in particular their morphology in their flows. At Worcester, we’re also using drones to monitor soil erosion and provide evidence of the best farming practices to reduce soil run-off into rivers that can cause pollution. Rivers have suffered greater ecological declines than any other part of our natural environment and the results of this research can help us restore our rivers and enhance biodiversity.
Big thanks to the susthingsout.com Digital Creative Team for putting this video together, to Sheridan Courtney for the video footage for Professor David Green, University of Worcester Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, CBE – and to the students and staff who are embedding sustainability into their teaching and research projects at The University of Worcester.
Listen to the podcasts. Professor David Green CBE Chairs The University of Worcester’s Leadership in Sustainability Debate. He is joined by Lord Victor Adebowale, Dr Antonius Raghubansie, Katy Boom, Meg Baker and Meg Price. Read more →
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On Thursday the 14th of July 2016, the University of Worcester hosted the Midlands Sustainability Network for Further and Higher Education Institutions event. Around fifty individuals attended the event, not just from education institutions but from businesses and local authorities, to begin the process of engagement, collaboration and sharing ideas. The event was hosted at the University of Worcester, who… Read more →
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For some years now I’ve been developing the teaching in ‘Green’ or (possibly better described as) ‘sustainable’ graphic design techniques as part of the Graphic Design and Multimedia degree course at the University of Worcester. In order to broaden the experiences and learning of students in this area further, I’ve also been developing both links and lecture visits with other specialist organisations outside of the University.
One of these organisations is the Worcester Resource Exchange – a ‘scrap store’ of post industrial materials allied to the Duckworth Trust and based in the city. We’ve also developed links with the larger Centre for Alternative Technology (or ‘CAT’ as it’s often known as in shorthand) based in Machynlleth, mid Wales. I firmly believe as a lecturer that not all learning takes place within the classroom and that facilitating students to both engage with and see other experiences on site at such places can be hugely beneficial to them too. This comment doesn’t just relate to the students’ learning experiences, but rather it also relates to the galvanising effect on a cohort that an occasional trip or visit outside of the University can also achieve.
Green Graphic Design
The Green Design module’s link with CAT has been evolving year on year now for nearly a decade. Students have benefitted from a range of new perspectives that the staff and facilities on site there have provided. In particular I want to highlight their ground-breaking latest research into how we might practically start to ‘decarbonize’ the British economy – which is called ‘Zero Carbon Britain’ (again known in shorthand as ‘ZCB’). This body of findings is the output of many years of painstaking research and analysis by specialists at CAT. It compares where we are now with resource and power use and where we could potentially be – albeit if we started to make small, practical changes to the ways in which we live. Now this might immediately worry readers of this article, who are probably imagining us at this point going back to the horse and cart – but CAT’s vision is anything but this. They see a modern-day society that is less oil and gas reliant and instead is more efficient with it’s use of fuels and one that has also invested more in diversifying heat and power generation utilising more renewables and other related technology.
Closed loop cycles
Linking with such external organisations brings various additional benefits to students and we’ve now adopted a core set of considerations that focus around working towards the core idea of a ‘closed loop’ of product development & usage. Closed loop cycles are also a key theme within CAT’s own ZCB research too if we’re to effectively lower our resource uses. In practical terms, this asks students to look at a lowered, ‘cleverer’ and more sustainable use of resources in their packaging solutions for their ‘live’ clients. Crucially, it also means that students are introduced to the idea of a ‘second use’ for their packaging concepts too.
Their latest project for regional sustainable brewer Oldfields Orchard Cider (Hobsons) actively encourages them to seek a follow-up use for their packaging once it has safely delivered the goods/bottles to the intended user. This could take one of many forms and in previous projects students have designed their packaging so it easily dismantles as traditional pub games, into small recipe books, and in one case rice paper spice tabs to be put directly into cooking. While there’s often no ‘ideal’ second use solutions, the idea is that students experiment and suggest additional ‘value added’ features for their packaging concepts that either delay or even stop the pack going into the waste systems by ultimately transforming it into another appropriate and useful artefact. While this idea isn’t brand new, the industry appears to be slowly changing and there are more and more sustainable design and packaging precedents appearing now that students are actively bearing in mind for their own concepts.
CAT Educational Lectures
Green Design students were fascinated by CAT’s ZCB research at a recent lecture and workshop on site in the unique Sheppard Lecture Theatre – one of the largest ‘rammed-earth’ structures in Europe. CAT Educational lecturer Ann MacGarry discussed many of the research’s salient findings within their ZCB proposals.. The debates to be had in this area clearly impacted on many of the students – who had only seen overviews to date but nothing in this in depth. Reactions were broad and when audio-interviewed en route back to Worcester, student comments included:
With (the concept of) ‘Zero Carbon Britain’, I really do think it’s achievable – but I think it’s only going to be possible by getting politicians to ‘pull their fingers out’ – it won’t happen without new legislation.. There’s only so much individuals can do really.
I found the visit and lecture really interesting, a lot of people talk about sustainability and low impact living but CAT seems to actually ‘do it’. I thought their ethics were really interesting too – not taking funding from big business or being biased or in anyone’s pockets.
Despite the broad-ranging nature of the day’s lecture, students could clearly see how these additional layers of information and context could widen their thinking with their own sustainable packaging projects ongoing. Third year graphic design student Jimi O’Doherty adds:
It (the lecture) was broad in nature – but I think much of the information was transferable and I’ll be bearing some of it in mind when I’m thinking about my further packaging ideas.
Students on the Green Design module will be completing their sustainable packaging outputs for this year’s ‘live’ brief set by sustainable regional beer and cider maker Hobsons in January 2015.More information
#greendesign #universityofworcester #graphicdesignandmultimedia #sustainabledesign #hobsons #centreforalternatetechnology #andystevenson #zerocarbonbritain
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Change Agents place graduates in sustainability jobs in the UK.
The sustainability sector is growing and many employers are looking for graduates with skills and experience.
Worcester has many opportunities within the curriculum and in extra curricula projects such as Go Green Week for students to gain these skills. A survey by recruiters Acre in July 2012 found that average salaries in sustainability jobs in the UK rose to £56,360, an increase of 14% since 2009.
Find out what you can do while at university to gain the skills that make you a great applicant for sustainability jobs in the UK by listening to our podcast.
Sarah Hooper is from Change Agents UK.
Claire Bridges, operations manager at Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (WLEP), explains how LEPs were created in 2011 as an instrument of Government to spearhead local economic growth, enterprise and job creation.
The WLEP has produced a business plan which is the delivery focus for the country. But the government has now set increased responsibilities and ambitions for each LEP. Amongst the new challenges, one of it will be the integration of sustainability principles.
Listen to our podcast to find out how WLEP helps students get jobs in Worcestershire and how you can get employability skills through sustainability projects across the University of Worcester.
For more information please contact Katy Boom, Director of Environmental Sustainability, University of Worcester, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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