Situated in the beautiful and inspiring location of the West Wales coastline, within the UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere, Aberystwyth University is ideally placed to tackle the exciting and challenging opportunity of a truly sustainable University.
Through its recently published Estates Strategy – Building Our Future, and Carbon Management Strategy, Aberystwyth is committed to driving forward sustainability across the whole University.
October 2014 saw the University hold its first ever Green Fayre, with environmental organisations and charities showcasing their vital work in one full day of exciting stalls, talks and seminars.
The aim of the fayre was to provide an opportunity for students to learn about local environmental groups and initiatives as well as ways they can get involved. This event highlighted student engagement is key and provided a chance to raise awareness of sustainability and environmental issues, not just locally and wider afield but also on the University Campus itself.
Organisations involved included the RSPB, CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology), Natural Resources Wales, Friends of the Earth, Organic Centre Wales, FairTrade Wales, and of course the EAUC, among others. Seminars were held throughout the day in a relaxed atmosphere for students to ask questions and find out more. Furthermore, departments from the University presented an insight into their own research, and volunteering societies from the Students Union were present, for example the Aberystwyth Conservation Volunteers and the Coast Care (beach cleaning) group.
Sustainability communication is vital, and the creation of the University’s sustainability webpages was an essential and much-needed step in the right direction. The new website can be viewed here www.aber.ac.uk/en/sustainability. Combining this with the recently revised Twitter and Facebook pages, provides a platform for engagement, discussion and positive, proactive action towards a University with sustainability at its core.
Aberystwyth recently achieved the Silver Phase Award of the EcoCampus Scheme (in October 2014), which enables Universities to design and implement an environmental management system in accordance with the international standard ISO 14001.
This positive step is essential and shows a strong commitment and a clear message that sustainability is a focus of the University’s activities and operations, in addressing and tackling its own environmental impacts in a clear and coherent way.
The EcoCampus Scheme covers all aspects including waste management, energy use, construction and refurbishment, water efficiency, sustainable purchasing, biodiversity, travel and community involvement.
Following the success of the Bronze Phase Award in May 2014 and now the Silver Phase, the University is looking ahead to achieve the Gold Phase in 2015.
NUS Blackout Initiative
The NUS behaviour change initiatives are now in their second year here at Aberystwyth, with their popularity and success growing. The Student Switch Off Campaign and Green Impact Initiative are up and running, but the recent highlight was the Blackout event which took place in November 2014.
The Blackout event provides a volunteering opportunity for students (and staff) to take positive action on unnecessary energy wastage in University buildings. The aim is to audit and turn off all non-essential office equipment in rooms and offices on a Friday evening that staff have left on. Therefore, electricity consumption can be monitored over the weekend to distinguish any energy and financial savings.
The event was a great success, with over 40 student volunteers, and 4 buildings audited. The results showed that approximately 40% of computers and 50% of monitors were left on, and if the Blackout event was carried out every weekend of the year across the whole campus, the University could save £60,000 on electricity and over 300 tonnes of carbon being released into the atmosphere. This highlights that these simple switch off behaviours can have huge long-lasting positive benefits.
The University recently received its renewal of its FairTrade University status from the FairTrade Foundation. This shows the collaboration of the Students Union, Hospitality Service and Arts Centre at the University to support sustainable development and improve working conditions of farmers and workers in developing countries.
This complements the University’s sustainable and ethical food policy, as well as the Bronze Food for Life Catering Mark which the University holds.
Main Contact Name: Christopher Woodfield, Environmental Graduate Trainee
Main Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information/website: www.aber.ac.uk/en/sustainability
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