Aston University’s second annual Go Green Week took place last month. People from all around the university, and externally, were involved with lectures, displays, activities and competitions all week. The themed days aimed to raise awareness of different issues: Move on Monday (sustainable transport), Turn off Tuesday (energy and water), Wildlife Wednesday, Throwaway Thursday (reuse and recycling) and Fairtrade Friday. The week was also an opportunity for our Environment Team to chat to people about what Aston is doing and what else we could (or should!) be doing.
Go Green Week also marked the launch of our new Energy Champions network. This network aims to bring people together from across the University to share ideas and act as champions to improve the energy performance of the University. We also took the opportunity to launch the 2011 Go Green Awards; following on from last years’ success we hope to get individuals in every department signing up to take action.
Behind the scenes the Environment Team has been working hard on a number of projects. Our Carbon Management Plan sets ambitious targets for reducing our energy use and to achieve these targets we have developed an implementation plan identifying a number of low and no-cost options to reduce our energy usage as well as some more major projects. In the last year, amongst other things, lighting has been upgraded in the library building, pipe work has been insulated around campus and a number of boilers have been upgraded. We have also reduced our water usage in this time and are working hard to reduce our waste by introducing a new recycling system across campus (already in place in the halls of residence, the library and the south wing). We have also purchased an on-site in-vessel composter which we are in the process of setting up; this will deal with our food waste and some garden waste.
For the future we have set ourselves some more challenging objectives such as achieving the BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method) Excellent rating on all of our new buildings, including the second phase of our Aston Student Villages, by incorporating features such as renewable energy generation, green roofs and recycling facilities. By the end of 2011 we also aim to have been awarded the Platinum EcoCampus award for the whole University, equivalent to ISO14001 accreditation. We have just submitted the 2011 People&Planet Green League questionnaire and hope that our hard work will help to keep us at the top of the table, after last year’s 5th place. Most importantly, we are determined to shout about what we are doing so that our staff and students can feel proud about being part of a truly sustainable university.