Edinburgh College is committed to being a sustainable and socially responsible institution.
In order to achieve this, we aim to integrate and encourage sustainable practices across the organisation, from how we run our estates through to what we teach in the curriculum.
The Sustainability team has a key role in helping the college be more sustainable.
The main areas of focus for our Sustainability team are:
The College’s carbon footprint in 2014-15 from electricity and gas alone was around 7500 t/CO2. – Something we need to reduce.
Not only because the College is identified as a ‘Major Player’ in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, but because it will also save us money.
Currently, our utilities spend is over £1million.
Carbon Management Plan
Our Carbon Management Plan is the main mechanism for addressing this. We have committed to reducing carbon emissions by a minimum of 18% by 2020 from a 2014-15 baseline. In order to achieve this, we will be implementing a number of projects. Some such as, the recently installed voltage optimisation at 3 campuses is already making savings.
Other projects are relatively low cost and involve raising awareness amongst staff and students to encourage positive behaviours – sometimes as simple as switching the lights off.
Our facilities as a College include photovoltaic panels on the roof of our Granton campus which provide energy for the campus and offset around 18t/CO2 per year. Our Hair and Beauty Salon is eco-friendly and has the latest technology installed including a fuel cell, LED lighting and heat recovery system.
Whilst we realise this is just the start and there will be major challenges ahead if we are to meet our targets, there will also be many opportunities – particularly linking to our curriculum, where we can effect positive change.
In 2014-15 the college produced around 900 tonnes of waste and had an on-site recycling rate of only 27% - something we are committed to changing. The College has developed a waste strategy aimed at improving the recycling rate and are working with Zero Waste Scotland to deliver improvements. We have started our ‘sort it’ campaign in 2015-16 and will be looking to make significant inroads in the first year.
The College has a major impact on the transport infrastructure around Edinburgh and has developed a ‘Green Travel plan’ with the aim of reducing our impact from all aspects of travel and we want to encourage a shift towards more sustainable travel. For us that means, investing in facilities, such as our new secure cycle parking at Sighthill or the eCycles for staff use. On top of that, we are providing information and advice on using public transport through ‘real-time information screens’ on all the main campuses.
Edinburgh College has an entirely-electric pool car fleet, which has resulted in enormous benefits for the college, staff, community, and planet. Aside from the reductions in tailpipe emissions and lower carbon, the electric vehicles are fully integrated into the curriculum, offering hands-on experience to students in Engineering, Automotive, and Electrical courses. This experience increases their understanding of environmentally friendly transport technologies and the associated infrastructure and provides them with the skills to work with electric vehicles as their use becomes more widespread. To date, we’ve travelled over 90,000 miles in them and seen a £40,000 saving compared to business mileage expenses. The electric car project has been selected as a finalist in the 2015 Green Gown award.
Edinburgh College has two thriving community gardens at our Milton Road and Sighthill campuses. We have over 200 participants from a diverse range of groups – students, staff, local community members as well as community groups. The gardens are an important part of our curricular delivery and for most users represent much more than just a space to grow food. We have plans to develop 4 community orchards at each of our main campuses that will allow us to build on the work we have already done. The gardens were recognised in the College Development Network awards in 2013-14 and are a finalist in the 2015 Green Gown award.
The College makes most purchases through Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges (APUC) who have a robust Supply Chains Sustainability Policy and Code of Conduct. In addition, our Fair Trade Policy outlines our commitment to ensuring we support fairness in trade. We are participating in a Fairtrade Award Pilot for Universities and Colleges and we are members of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum. We have formed a strong partnership with Coffee Conscience, who supply our products for our coffee shops. We are affiliate members of Electronics Watch through our membership of APUC.