Green Aston Blog

Take the Stairs Challenge!

User AvatarPosted by at 09/01/2015 16:44:16

Our latest energy saving campaign is to get staff and students to use the stairs instead of the lift. We thought we'd better lead by example so throughout January the Environment and Sustainability Team are banned from using the lift!

Week 1 is now nearly complete...and as we're on the 7th floor we're feeling the strain a bit. Our first day back at work after Christmas involved us doing a fitness test at lunchtime - probably not the best idea after a fortnight of too much turkey, alcohol and mince pies...but it'll be interesting to see if we improve after our challenge (fingers crossed!)

Check out our pledge page if you're interested in taking part - it's not too late. If you sign up we'll send you a recording sheet; these are my own results after just five days:

Energy saving: 1.27 kWh - enough energy to power an energy saving light bulb for over 115 hours!

CO2 saving: Approx. 0.7kg - enough to fill over 66 party balloons!

Total steps: 3,640

Calories burned: 399

Although it's tiring (and you do arrive into the office a bit out of puff and red faced), it's great to see some worthwhile results. Imagine the energy we could save if even half the staff members and students took part! 

It's a perfect way to get fitter if you're pushed for time and it could also make you happier - exercise releases endorphins which could help banish the January back-to-work blues!

You could also save time. During busier times on campus you can be waiting for over 5 minutes for a lift...and then you have to get up close and personal with 7 others all cramming to get inside. If you use the stairs you always know how long it'll take to get to that meeting in time.

I'm not usually one to make New Year's resolutions but this is definitely one I aim to keep!

N.B. The energy saving is an estimate but used results from an analysis of one of the lifts on campus. Estimates on no. of calories burned taken from calculations from Stepjockey.

And May All you Christmases be Green...

Posted by Sara Wilkes at 12/12/2014 13:06:00

A few tips to help you be a bit more sustainable this Christmas time!

1. Buy Less Stuff! 

We’ve all been there…last minute panic buying novelty gadgets, gift sets and things that people don’t really need or want. Why not try some homemade gifts, home baking, or alternatives to ‘stuff’: tickets to a concert, a course of lessons, an experience or a charity donation such as Oxfam’s Unwrapped Gifts (goats and chickens are half price at the moment!

2. Buy Ethical

If the last minute panic buying is inevitable, why not make a more ethical choice and go Fairtrade; Traidcraft have some lovely gift ideas. If you went to our Fairtrade wine tasting you could share a bottle of your favourite from the night!

3. Go Paperless

Share your Christmas wishes via e-cards rather than paper copies. Aston staff can make a donation to the Susan Cadbury Fund and send an e-card, and lots of charities do the same such as the Friends of the Earth’s Christmas Bee. And when you’re wrapping up presents, here are some nifty alternatives to wrapping paper; newspaper looks surprisingly stylish!

4. Save your Stamps

Any stamps you receive can be sent on to RSPB’s charity collection – the Green Team have a collection so drop these off / send in the internal post to MB 723 Environment and Sustainability Team. And don’t forget to recycle any Christmas Cards – M&S have collection points for the Woodland Trust (again you can send these to MB 723 if it’s more convenient).

5. Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly!

Avoid the plastic Christmas decorations and go natural – holly, ivy and don’t forget the mistletoe! Some will last for ages and others can be composted. And although plastic trees can be reused, in reality most will only be used a few years and then ditched for landfill. Buy local and look for FSC accredited suppliers and, even better, buy a tree in a container you can use each year – RHS have some tips on keeping your tree for longer.

6. Love your Leftovers

The Love Food Hate Waste website has some great tips on portion planning, using up leftovers and storing food. If you still end up buying a 30lb turkey then they have lots of tasty recipes for your leftovers.  

 Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Green Team!

University achieves ISO14001 & EcoCampus Platinum.

Posted by Rebecca Smith at 11/11/2014 16:29:20

We are delighted to announce that after a tough two and a half days audit, the Energy, Environment and Sustainability Team have been accredited to the International Standard of 14001 as well as the EcoCampus Platinum standard.  We have held the EcoCampus Platinum standard since 2012, however it was decided that we could combine this audit with the ISO14001 standard.

Both of these awards are for our 'Environmental Management System' (EMS.) This system is a way that we can manage and reduce our impacts to the environment at the same time as improving our environmental performance and ensuring legal compliance. 

A big thank you to all those that have helped us along the way! 

Introducing the face behind Aston's Go Green campaign: Kitty the Kestrel!

Posted by Sara Wilkes at 06/10/2014 12:40:20

You may have seen this logo around campus and wondered what it means? Kitty the Kestrel is our environmental mascot, used to promote sustainability to staff and students around campus. 

But you may be asking: why a bird has been used to promote environmental issues?!

The bird in question is a kestrel, a bird of prey which is a protected species in the UK.  The logo is inspired by generations of kestrels that have been nesting on our Main Building for over 30 years!

We’re proud that our university, located in an urban Birmingham city centre, provides a home for these birds and so we decided to use this in our Go Green branding. The name ‘Kitty’ was chosen by entries submitted in a competition during Go Green Week 2014.

You may also have heard about Kestrel Cam, which is a live camera feed to the kestrel nest. The nest is quiet at the moment but keep a watch out in spring time when the kestrels will hopefully lay another batch of eggs! There is also a Twitter feed to keep you up to date: @AstonKestrels

 Find out how you can get involved with the Aston Campus Wildlife Group.

Look out for Kitty the Kestrel around campus and on social media – she has lots of tips to help you reduce your impact on the environment! 

Tunnel Closures

Posted by Sara Wilkes at 18/07/2014 10:06:44

With the upcoming closures of the tunnels at St Chad’s and Queensway (18 July to 1st September), the Environment & Sustainability Team would like to encourage staff to look at alternative options than driving.

We can all imagine the scenario: the roads will be packed with slow or stationary cars going nowhere. Wouldn’t it be liberating to pass the stressed, irritated and trapped motorists on your bike? Get to work on time, with reliable and consistent journey times regardless of the traffic circumstances.

You’ll save money on fuel costs, feel fitter and healthier, lower stress levels and be more environmentally friendly.

The university has facilities and cycling schemes to support cyclists:

Cycle to work is a salary conversion scheme helping employees to buy a bike and safety equipment free of income tax and national insurance, offering significant savings on a new bike.
- Reduced price “D lock” bike locks to ensure your bike’s safety while parked in one of our many cycle shelters, £10 locks are available from security. Note: no bike has been stolen from campus to date that has been locked properly with a D lock.
- Cyclists changing room, including showers, lockers and a drying area for when you arrive.
- Bicyclist users group (AstBUG) which can offer support and advice regarding cycling – contact t.m.a.hooton@aston.ac.ukor environment@aston.ac.uk
- For a cycling/walking maps contact environment@aston.ac.uk

Check out discounted ticket offers from Network West Midlands and National Express. Virgin Trains will also have a Park and Ride scheme at Coventry, Birmingham International and Wolverhampton

In summary, avoid the queues: walk, cycle or travel by public transport to avoid the queues!