Andrew Murray 22/04/2013 11:53:18
The Environmental & Sustainability Team is delighted to introduce their newest member: Rebecca Smith, who started this week. Rebecca's appointment means the team is back up to full strength, following a transitional period due to staff moving on and taking maternity leave. With a full complement of staff, we're looking forward to building upon the wonderful success of recent years which has helped to make Aston University one of the most sustainable in the UK. Our sights are set on the work and improvements needed to maintain and improve our environmental performance, maintain our Platinum status and meet our sustainability policies.
The end of March saw a final push to gather evidence and write up the University's annual People & Planet Green league submission. Previous years Aston has been highly successful in this measure of environmental actions and policies, 11 out of 140 universities. Hopefully this year we'll be even higher and push for a top 10 place.
The University has recently installed a free cooling system into the main ISA server room. This system provides air from outside into the sever room for a majority of the year when outside temperatures are below (around) 24 OC. This system has already shown a decrease of approx. 65% compared to the large air condition units that were running 24/7. These units will now only be used when the air outside cannot meet the cooling demands of the space. The system is estimated to save around 330,000 kWh a year or above £30,000 and a majority of the work was financed through a Salix SEELS loan scheme, and should the savings made should pay back the loan within 3 years. Finally, the savings are estimated to save approx.. 175 tonnes of CO2 a year.
Review of Go Green Week 2013
Go Green Week 2013, now in its 4th year at Aston, built upon the success of previous years with over 30 individual events to engage, inform and inspire staff and students about environmental and sustainability issues. Running from Monday 11th to Friday 15th of February across campus, Go Green Week 2013 tackled everything from recycling to sustainable food and much more.
Throughout the week staff and students raided their wardrobes and attics to bring in any unwanted clothes, home ware and entertainment to donate to Oxfam via Oxfam collects from work scheme. The range of donations was astounding, which Oxfam will use to continue their great work around the world, and diverted unwanted items from landfill.
Students and staff got creative with 80 amazing submission for the Green Aston photo competition, available on the Green Aston Uni Facebook page. The winning photo by Shiela Rattu narrowly beat Virginia Soriano-Chico in the final few minutes of voting producing an exciting climax to the competition.
That wasn’t the end of the creative side of Aston. The Love Aston waste sculpture produced a rival for the official Aston logo using only part of one day’s recyclable waste, highlighting the volume of waste produced onsite and the value of recycling correctly. There was also an individual sculpture competition running all week. All aimed at breaking notions of waste and its value.
During Go Green Week 2013 there was a huge amount of information regarding green topics. Including 7 lectures from leading academics and campaigners, covering the following topics:
· Risk, Environment and Society
· Global Poverty Project
· Business, Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability
· Climate Change and its effect on World Hunger
· Sustainability Report Assurance
· Strategic Business Sustainability
· Environmental Policy
For the more active there were guided tours and walks, including a sustainability tour of Aston Campus; a tour of the nearly completed EBRI building; a chance to examine the Main Building’s new PV Solar array and a canal side wildlife walk. Many different organisation and groups were also on campus holding displays and interacting with staff and students. Although spread out over the whole week, the Eco Info Market on Wednesday attracted the highest number of visitors with several green groups on hand to promote their message.
For those environmentally conscious foodies Go Green Week, along with Aston Catering, provided several food based events to entice the taste buds while engaging the brain about the impact of food on the environment. The MLK Multi-Faith Centre was packed when they hosted a Mardi Gras Pancake Party to promotesustainable food and reducing global hunger, while serving up free pancakes. B4 Bar held a Part-time Carnivore Buffet on Wednesday, serving up a selection of vegetarian food for the bargain price of £1.50. Café Tierra staged an additional day of its ever popular monthly meat free Friday, where diners can indulge in tasty meat free options.
Tuesday saw the return of the Eco Market in the Student’s Union, where green and sustainable companies came to sell their wares. It was the perfect opportunity to buy an ethical valentines gift or just treat yourself to something with a clean conscious.
Cyclists got a treat on Wednesday when, in conjunction with Aston Bicycle Users Group (AstBUG), any cyclist arriving at Main building were offered a free breakfast. For jealous non-cyclists, there was a huge range of information, guides and maps to help get them on their bikes.
Showing that being green isn’t all serious; Go Green Week had several evenings of entertainment. Kicking off with a film double bill on Monday, a Green pub quiz on Tuesday, Karaoke and Speed dating on Thursday and ending with a bang on Friday with a comedy night.
Overall Go Green Week was a great success, building on the momentum of previous years to engage and promote the “Green” message. Feedback from staff, students and visitors has been positive about all the events and the green message in general.