Like the Edge Hill ducks, when it comes to sustainability, there’s a lot going on beneath the surface of the Edge Hill campus. This includes reducing its carbon footprint (webbed and unwebbed).
From using energy from renewable sources to ensuring halls of residence have the most efficient insulation systems, from the development of “green” roofs to campus beehives, the University campus is buzzing with ideas promoting sustainable development. And we’re now a hedgehog-friendly campus.
And we don’t intend to stop there. These are projects which are being constantly reviewed, recycled and upcycled.
A Greener Campus
We know the campus is very green, thanks to the dedicated ground staff. But a green mentality is also being cultivated. Paul Aplin, Professor of Geography, is a member of the Edge Hill University Institute of Social Responsibility’s SustainNET, a partnership of staff and students passionate about sustainability. He believes the upheaval caused by the Covid-19 pandemic could actually be an opportunity to address the next great crisis potentially facing the planet:
“Covid-19 is giving us cause to reflect fundamentally on everything: how we do things, can we change, can we make some things better? There exists, right now, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to influence the global environmental agenda – reset societal priorities, rethink individual actions, and renew environmental relationships. Any individual can get involved in COP26. Remember the old adage, ‘think global, act local’. But do act.”
In this spirit, the University has a whole programme of local actions. New buildings are designed to be sustainable and incorporate efficient heating, lighting and ventilation. That includes the Sports Centre, the Technology Hub, and the Catalyst building which houses the library and student support services.
Older buildings are retrofitted with energy-saving features. This includes our iconic main building, dating back to 1933, which it’s safe to say, wasn’t really built with environmental sustainability in mind. This year saw improved insulation, glazing and a new heat management system. Students living on campus in 2021 will be getting a notably different experience to those of previous generations.
We even offer our own bus service, ferrying staff and students between campus and Ormskirk. Don’t worry, you also have the option of pedal power, with bikes available on campus, to take you into town, and beyond.
A Future-fit Campus
We’ve joined up with waste contracting supplier B&M, to increase our recycling programme, and we’ve made great strides in 2021 towards making our waste services carbon neutral:
“We’re pleased to have reached some significant milestones in our recycling programme over the past year,” says Sustainability Manager and Edge Hill alumnus Daniel Bocharnikov (right). “Working towards a more sustainable future continues to be a key goal for staff and students, and these achievements are an important step forward as we work together to create a future-fit campus.”
What does a “future-fit” campus feel like? There are a whole range of ways of engaging with sustainability that are available to staff and students.
Some are about encouraging behavioural change, individual actions that can have a huge impact: healthy eating; reducing plastic use; improving recycling habits; promoting alternative travel arrangements; food waste awareness competitions.
Other schemes are more hands-on. Literally, in some cases…
The University’s laboratories are recycling 100% of non-hazardous gloves, used in vital research. In partnership with the Kimberly-Clark Professional™ RightCycle™ scheme, our lab teams can correctly define waste in order to avoid it going to landfill or unnecessary incineration. Instead they’re turned into long-life-cycle products such as planters, garden furniture and surfaces for children’s playgrounds.
Lab Manager Matt Smith (pictured above) is right behind the scheme:
In the Biology department specifically, we have industry-standard equipment that students benefit from. As a result, student numbers have increased two-fold, but obviously the catch to that is the more science we do, the more lifesaving research that we conduct, the more waste we produce.
Greener Ways to Study
And sustainability is also embedded into many degree programmes, as well as being a big area of research interest across academic disciplines. Indeed, Professor Aplin’s Geography and Geology department see building sustainability into every possible aspect of their curriculum, for example field trips, almost as a duty.
The Primary Education team have built a sustainability network, with staff and students developing personal eco-friendly strategies, but also strategies students can take into their own teaching practice. So blogs, vlogs, social media, any and every comms tools are used to share ideas, support each other, and promote positive action within the wider community. And students can work towards an award which will then inform their practice once they become qualified teachers.
Teaching student Becky Cleave got involved, taking her ideas into both her teaching practice and her own life:
Education is the key. What the sustainable development goals mean, what needs to be done, on a global level, on a local level. Individually, just think about the everyday impact you’re having on the planet, and how you can change that. I’ve made lots of small changes in my life – I cycle more, I try to have a more plant-based diet. If I’m going to get a coffee, should I bring my reusable cup. Little things all add up.
And Professor of Psychology, Geoff Beattie, has been researching how our attitudes to climate change and sustainability develop, and analysing strategies we could adopt to change behaviours.
Plans sketching out the feasibility of onsite renewable energy generation are underway, but Daniel’s door is always open to anyone who just wants to play their small part in saving our beautiful planet. It’s all about new ideas, fresh energy, partnerships.
And we will continue to work furiously behind the scenes to ensure that securing a peaceful and prosperous future for our planet – and Edge Hill’s famous ducks – is plain sailing.