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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.

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Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy

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Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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How Going Green Can Save Your Business Thousands

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Running a company isn’t easy. From reporting wages in an efficient way to meeting deadlines and targets, there’s always something to think about – with green business ideas giving entrepreneurs something extra to ponder. While environmental issues may not be at the forefront of your mind right now, it could save your business thousands, so let’s delve deeper into this issue.

Small waste adds up over time

A computer left on overnight might not seem like the end of the world, right? Sure, it’s a rather minor issue compared to losing a client or being refused a loan – but small waste adds up over time. Conserving energy is an effective money saver, so to hold onto that hard-earned cash, try to:

  • Turn all electrical gadgets off at the socket rather than leaving them on standby as the latter can crank up your energy bill without you even realizing.
  • Switch all lights off when you exit a room and try switching to halogen incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps or light emitting diodes as these can use up to 80 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent and are therefore more efficient.
  • Replace outdated appliances with their greener counterparts. Energy Star appliances have labels which help you to understand their energy requirements over time.
  • Draught-proof your premises as sealing up leaks could slash your energy bills by 30 per cent.

Going electronic has significant benefits

If you don’t want to be buried under a mountain of paperwork, why not opt for digital documents instead of printing everything out? Not only will this save a lot of money on paper and ink but it will also conserve energy and help protect the planet. You may even be entitled to one of the many tax breaks and grants issued to organizations committed to achieving their environmental goals. This is particularly good news for start-ups with limited funds as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is keen to support companies opening up their company in a green manner.

Of course, if you’re used to handing out brochures and leaflets at every company meeting or printing out newsletters whenever you get the chance, going electronic may be a challenge – but here are some things you can try:

  • Using PowerPoint presentations not printouts
  • Communicating via instant messenger apps or email
  • Using financial software to manage your books
  • Downloading accounting software to keep track of figures
  • Arranging digital feedback and review forms
  • Making the most of Google Docs

Going green can help you to make money too

Going green and environmental stability is big news at the moment with many companies doing their bit for the environment. While implementing eco-friendly strategies will certainly save you money, reducing your carbon footprint could also make you a few bucks too. How? Well, consumers care about what brands are doing more than ever before, with many deliberately siding with those who are implementing green policies. Essentially, doing your bit for the environment is a PR dream as it allows you to talk about what everyone wants to hear.

Going green can certainly save your money but it should also improve your reputation too and give you a platform to promote your business.

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