Edinburgh College

Being sustainable is important to us. Our vision is to be a driving force in sustainability in our community. Partly that means ensuring we use resources efficiently. But our main task must be to embed the principles of sustainability within our staff and students, which will have a lifelong impact.

Governance
We are in the process of creating a robust governance system to ensure that sustainability is embedded within all aspects of the College. Our first Sustainability Group meeting was held in March 2016 and will aim to provide vision and direction for our sustainability efforts. This includes resource efficiency; sustainability in the curriculum; Biodiversity & Community Growing; Climate Change Adaptation and Sustainable Procurement. 

Carbon Management
We are now into the third year of our Carbon Management Plan and we managed to reduce emissions by approximately 8% in the first reporting year from 2013/14 baseline of 7913 t/CO2 to 7273t/CO2 in 2014-15. This year’s figure is looking good too, but we’ll see what happens at the end of July. The saving mainly came through some good housekeeping and a few energy efficiency projects including lighting and voltage optimisation. But we need much more if we are to meet our target of an 18% reduction by 2020, this in a very challenging financial situation. We are however signed up to a pilot project with the Scottish Funding Council aimed at allowing us to invest in energy infrastructure and pay the money off through future savings, in a similar way to SALIX (which we are not able to access). This has identified a possible 884t/CO2 (11% of baseline) at a cost of £1.4million.

Community Gardens and Orchards
We are very proud of our community growing in the College and were delighted when we were awarded the Green Gown UK and International Awards for Student Engagement in 2015. Two of Edinburgh College campuses have Community Gardens and three of the four have a Community Orchard. The planting of the fourth orchard will come in winter 2016.

Students and the curriculum are very much at the heart of the work we do in the gardens. Students, staff, community members and groups are all welcome and we have a very broad range of participation. Gardening activities provide the perfect medium to not only learn more about biodiversity, the environment and sustainability, but also facilitate a much wider skillset which has benefits in the longer term, for example with employability. For a lot of participants it also a way to learn about food and wellbeing. Above all it is a place to meet new people and to increase confidence and self-esteem by real social interaction. Oh and we grow plenty of food of course – all with a minimal carbon footprint. Click here for a short film about the garden.

Waste Management
The merger of the college in 2012 meant that waste management was, well a bit of a mess. We now have a single contractor for all sites who provide us with a 90%+ recycling rate after secondary processing. Our own recycling ratio on campus leaves a lot to be desired at 27% though this figure masks a number of data issues and is not representative. We are in the middle of reducing this significantly. Zero Waste Scotland awarded us a grant which has allowed us to invest in bins and facilities across the campus and we have spent a lot of time updating our processes and procedures as well as having consistent awareness messages on all campuses. We have seen a big improvement but there are still areas to work on – particularly influencing behaviours.  

Sustainability in the Curriculum
There is so much sustainability in our curriculum that it would be difficult to list everything. A few examples include:

  • Engineering students learn from our 2654 PV panels at the Solar Meadow and are involved in managing are all-electric pool car fleet.

  • The community garden is used by many groups for a wide range of activities across several departments.

  • Our salon is powered by a fuel cell and has a lot of green tech built in.

  • Students on the Art & Environment course hosted an exhibition using recycled materials at a gallery in Edinburgh.

  • Dentistry Students hosted an event to highlight health issues with regard to sugar.

  • Computing students are currently designing an interactive e-induction for waste.

  • Next year our events management students will be running Fairtrade Fortnight as we work towards Fairtrade status and we aim to have other department on board too. 

  • And we have a sustainability award in our annual Prize Giving sponsored by Keep Scotland Beautiful.

Sustainable Travel
The College runs a fleet of electric cars and vans and was Highly Commended in 2015 Green Gown awards. We have been proactive in encouraging active travel. All sites have good cycle facilities and we are working towards a Cycle Friendly Campus award at the moment. We’ve held numerous cycling promotion including Dr Bike maintenance sessions and the ‘Love to Ride Edinburgh’ programme, where we came 6th.

Main Contact Name: Martin Webb, Sustainability Officer
Main Contact Email: martin.webb@edinburghcollege.ac.uk
Further information/website: www.edinburghcollege.ac.uk/Welcome/Governance/Sustainability
Share with us: www.twitter.com/ECSust

Edinburgh College
click to enlarge

Green Gown Awards � Community Gardens and Electric cars
Green Gown Awards � Community Gardens and Electric cars

Community Garden � in action
Community Garden � in action

Sighthill campus with wildflower meadow in foreground
Sighthill campus with wildflower meadow in foreground