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Green Gown Award 2015 Winners Announced

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With the City of Bristol the 2015 European Green Capital and the Awards being hosted at Brunel’s Old Station, one of the oldest train stations in the world, there was no better place to celebrate these remarkable initiatives.

The 11th Green Gown Awards saw over 320 sustainability leaders join in the celebration of awarding sustainability excellence within tertiary education announcing 16 Winners and 22 Highly Commended, culminating with live video streaming of the International Green Gown Awards crowning a 3 further International Winners.

The evening was hosted by Dr Andrew Garrad (pictured), Chairman of Bristol 2015 European Green Capital. Andrew is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and is an Honorary Fellow of New College, Oxford. “I am delighted that, towards the end of our year as European Green Capital, Bristol hosted the Green Gown Awards. These Awards recognise the important role that academic institutions play in ensuring that young people have a proper understanding of both the challenges and the opportunities presented by sustainability.”

Each year the Awards bring together the most inspirational projects from across the sector and this year was no exception. The Student Engagement Award – supported by the Scottish Funding Council – saw Edinburgh College pick up a win not only in the UK Awards but also in the International Awards. Their project “Edinburgh Community Gardens and Orchards” has built up two thriving community gardens at opposite ends of the city of Edinburgh, and is also in the process of developing four community orchards.

On their achievement, Annette Bruton, Principal and Chief Executive says “When the Community Gardens project began we didn’t necessarily understand how strong an effect it would have on engaging students, in giving them new skills, confidence and an education in sustainability. We are very proud to win this Green Gown Award as it demonstrates how sustainable practices can provide powerful learning experiences.”

The worthy winner of the Leadership Award – which is exclusive to senior strategic leadership at a tertiary education institution and recognises individuals at the most senior level – went to Dr Jane Davidson, University of Wales Trinity St David for establishing the INSPIRE project which delivers educational pathways promoting learning, environmental and social responsibility and meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. “This win is such a prestigious accolade and it acknowledges our commitment to sustainability as one of our core values and most importantly it celebrates the excellent and inspiring work of colleagues and students across the University’s campuses.” Says their Vice-Chancellor, Professor Medwin Hughes DL.

Guests at the prestigious black tie ceremony included university and college representatives from across the UK, joined by leading figures from institutions such as the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Scottish Funding Council (SFC), Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE), Association of Colleges (AoC), Higher Education Academy (HEA) and The Association of Heads of University Administration (AHUA) to commend visionary projects which are pushing the sustainable good practice boundaries.

Organised and delivered by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), Chief Executive Iain Patton describes the importance of the Green Gown Awards, “Every year the Green Gown Awards rewrite what business as usual looks like for UK universities and colleges.  Sustainability makes business sense and this year’s inspiring initiatives prove that sustainability benefits staff, students, the wider community and of course the bottom line. Congratulations to all the winners and finalists for their hard work. It was wonderful to celebrate their successes in Bristol.”

The evening finale saw the UK Winners from the three international categories: Community Innovation; Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change, and Student Engagement going head-to-head with the winners from Australasia and the French speaking regions including Canada, for the coveted International Green Gown Awards. Winners were announced via live video streaming by two of the Awards’ delivery partners; Pauline Pingusson from Campus Responsables and Iain Patton from the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges.

De Montfort University (UK) won the Community Innovation Award with “OASYS South Asia” and their inspiring project providing solar energy opportunities to off-grid rural communities; Université Laval(Canada) was awarded the Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change Award for their community-wide approach and vision of sustainable development and Edinburgh College (UK) won the Student Engagement Award with their thriving community gardens project showing strong commitment, great curriculum links and offering a big impact and outreach.

A snapshot of some of the winning entries include:

The Carbon Reduction Award – supported by SALIX Finance – awarded to Dundee and Angus College for their project “Reducing Carbon CO2 – it’s in our D&A”, saving the planet, saving cash, shrinking the College’s carbon footprint whilst, at the same time, stimulating staff and learners’ imagination in terms of sustainability.

The Community Innovation Award which also scooped the International Award too – supported by InnuScience – awarded to De Montfort University for their project “OASYS South Asia – solar energy providing opportunities to off-grid rural communities”. The inspiring project undertook demonstrations of off-grid options using solar PV-based mini/micro grid systems at four locations in India, providing access to basic lighting and mobile phone charging facilities as well as supporting use of electricity for productive, educational, and social purposes.

Enterprise and Employability – supported by the Higher Education Academy – awarded to The University of Nottingham for their initiative “Enactus Nottingham” where students are given a platform to create social enterprises focused around solving large economic, environmental and social problems.

And the Sustainability Champion Student Award – supported by The Energy Consortium – went to Charlotte Rebekah Instone, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London. With judges commenting “Charlotte shows incredible drive and passion for sustainability setting up the sustainability society, an ethical fashion brand and running an amazing number of events all while undertaking her degree! We need to replicate Charlotte!”

The Green Gown Awards 2015 Winners’ Brochure and International Winners’ Brochure incorporating all this year’s Winning, Highly Commended and Finalists’ entries can be found on the Green Gown Awards website.

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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