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Economy

The State of Sustainability in Tertiary Education

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A report on sustainability in tertiary education has been released today by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), National Union of Students (NUS), University and College Union (UCU), Association of Colleges (AoC) and the College Development Network.

The report is based on survey responses from 548 staff involved in sustainability in universities and colleges. The survey set out to identify how further and higher education institutions are responding to environmental sustainability and social responsibility challenges, as well as how staff perceive their institution’s efforts. The intention is to rerun the survey annually, producing an annual report that tracks perceptions and trends across tertiary education.

Key findings:

– A quarter of respondents overall report that sustainability is a strategic priority.

– University staff indicate doubts regarding the likelihood of achieving carbon reduction targets at their institutions, with two fifths saying they are unlikely or very unlikely to meet targets.

– Action on teaching and learning for sustainability is varied, with a quarter of Higher Education sustainability staff indicating that they do not have any plans, projects or campaigns in this area at their institution.

– Just 16% of overall respondents rate performance on ethical investments as ‘very good’ or ‘good’.

– A lack of financial and staff resources are seen as the biggest barriers to acting for sustainability with support from the highest levels seen as the most important way of overcoming these barriers.

– There are concerns over reductions in budget for sustainability, with a third of college sustainability staff respondents and a fifth of university sustainability staff respondents expecting a decrease in budget.

Iain Patton, CEO, EAUC, said, “Already this pioneering collaborative survey is flagging warnings that colleges in particular are struggling with sustainability. We won’t be waiting for next year’s survey to act and we will be supporting our Members across the UK to ensure sustainability is a critical agenda item at senior level.”

Piers Telemacque, Vice President Society and Citizenship, NUS, said, “This important survey gives us a benchmark from which we can see how things change over the years ahead. I’m really worried about the effects of the anti-renewables and sustainability slashing rhetoric from the Government of late, which goes against the hopes and aspirations of our students. This data is a rallying call to our member unions to call on their institutions to do more on campus sustainability, ethical investments and education for sustainable development.”

Graham Petersen, Environment Coordinator at UCU, said, “The evidence in the report is timely. The UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate talks will put a renewed emphasis on the Further and Higher Education sector to embed sustainability. Some institutions are performing well but the overall picture is not encouraging. Education funding cuts must be reversed and a strategic framework put in place to ensure institutions deliver for students, staff and their communities.”

Ian Munro, Regional Director, AoC, said, “The results of this survey provide a better understanding of the perceptions of staff in colleges and universities regarding sustainability, its focus within the organisation and how this is being delivered. It is clear that colleges and their staff continue to promote and champion this work whilst facing a continued lack of investment and annual funding cuts by the Government. Despite these pressures, college leaders continue to improve the estate and the student learning environment.”

Colin Buchanan, Manager, Workforce Development at College Development Network (CDN), said, “It is clear that colleges in Scotland have made great strides in addressing carbon footprint through new builds. While there are pockets of excellent practice around sustainability within the delivery of the curriculum, there remains work to be done before sustainability can be recognised as being fully embedded in all aspects of learning and teaching. CDN looks forward to supporting colleges as they continue to make progress in this area.”

The EAUC, UCU, AoC and NUS are amongst the collective voice of the world’s universities, colleges and students that will be addressing COP21 Ministers and Governments. The Open Letter is urging them to partner with universities and colleges in addressing climate change. Click here for more details.

The full report on Sustainability in Education can be viewed here.

Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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Economy

IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”

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IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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