South Lanarkshire College

South Lanarkshire College is a medium-size Scottish college with around 6000 students. In February 2008, staff and students moved to a new building on a new campus. In the new building a philosophy to do things differently was adopted with a strong focus on sustainable practices. Accordingly, there are no chalkboards, no overhead projectors and no televisions in any classrooms or workshops. PCs in classrooms are linked to the internet, and interactive whiteboards for high-engagement, interactive learning experiences with minimal paper use. There are no paper registers to record attendance. All attendance is monitored using proximity cards and electronic readers. Reports are generated automatically from the systems for various external organisations and emailed. This saves staff time as well as paper. Paper portfolios for SVQs in construction are no longer used. Lecturers use tablet PCs to record assessment outcomes and students build their portfolios electronically. After moving to electronic portfolios, we converted two no longer needed large storage rooms into classrooms. Sustainability is a key part of the college’s ethos statements, displayed prominently around the college. Students can access timetables, attainment results, progress reports and their own personal information through their mobile phones.

Low-energy house project

The college is one of the largest colleges for Construction training in the UK. In 2009, 50 partners were drawn in from private industry that designed and built a low-energy, low carbon house. This was to demonstrate to students and industry a picture of what building standards would require in Scotland by 2016, and also to demonstrate to industry that it is actually quite affordable to adopt low-energy, low-carbon approaches now rather than waiting for legislation to drive change.

The low-energy house is used by students for practical demonstration as well as for insightful project work. In its first two years of operation we have maintained the inside air temperature of the house at around 21 degrees centigrade and the insulation levels are so good that it only costs between £60 and £80 per year on heating bills. That is not a typing error!!! In addition the house generates around £1200 of electricity from its roof.

The lessons learned in this project have been shared with several thousand students and over 1000 partners from industry. The project is multi-award winning, including being the only Scottish winner of a UK Green Gown award in 2011. It has attracted politicians and industry leaders to visit it and we hope we have influenced a large range of organisations in their thinking.

Promoting sustainability

The low-energy house is used as a focal point for looking at ways we can do things differently. There are three prominent locations in public areas of the college where sustainability is a major feature. A student sits on the college’s Sustainability Group along with staff, including the Depute Principal. Prominent posters display the college's activities and progress in reducing energy and carbon emissions and information is communicated in student diaries and other literature. Transport routes have been analysed and a green travel brochure has been published for students. Over the past two years electricity consumption has been actively managed down by a quarter, and gas consumption down by a third.

In order to reduce energy dependence on fossil fuels further a commercial ground source heat pump and a commercial air source heat pump are being installed. These will be used for research as well as for energy savings and will contribute to reducing carbon emissions. In addition, the college encourages all staff to consider sustainability as part of normal lesson planning. Lesson plans now all incorporate a heading on sustainability. Courses in construction subjects have been modified to incorporate sustainability as integral parts of the learning as appropriate. Student projects and assignments at Higher National (HN) level now have a focus on sustainability where practical and students benefit from information gleaned through the low-energy house project.

College leadership was described by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education in the latest Inspection report as "outstanding" and "very effective"and the low-energy house project was described as "sector-leading and innovative practice".

See link below to the HMIE report:

Main Contact Name: Angus Allan, Depute Principal
Main Contact Email & Telephone: and 01355807605
Further information/website:
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Go to the college website for more information about the low energy house.

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