The second annual Aston Go Green Week took place last month. Staff, students and external guests enjoyed a week packed with lectures, displays, activities and competitions to raise awareness of a range of sustainability 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 Aston's Environment Team to chat to people about what the University is doing and what it could (or should!) be doing.
Go Green Week also marked the launch of the new Energy Champions network. This network will bring people together from across the University to share ideas and act as champions to improve the energy performance of the University. The 2011 Go Green Awards were also launched; following on from last years’ success the team hopes to get champions in every department signing up to take action.
Behind the scenes the Environment Team has been working hard on a number of projects; the University’s 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. The University has also reduced its water usage and the team is working hard to reduce waste with the introduction of a new recycling system across campus (already in place in the halls of residence, the Library and the South Wing). An on-site in-vessel composter has also been purchased; this will deal with Aston's food waste and some garden waste.
For the future the University has set challenging objectives such as achieving the BREEAM Excellent rating on all new buildings, including the second phase of the Aston Student Villages, by incorporating features such as renewable energy generation, green roofs and recycling facilities. By the end of 2011 the University also hopes to achieve the Platinum EcoCampus award for the whole University, equivalent to ISO14001 accreditation. Aston's submission to the 2011 People&Planet Green League questionnaire has just been completed and it is hoped that all of this hard workd will help to keep the University at the top of the table, after last year’s 5th place. And importantly, the Environment Team is determined to shout about what they are up to, to ensure that our staff and students can feel proud about being part of a truly sustainable university.
Words by Victoria Johnsen and Louise Russell
22 March 2011