Author: Ingrid Bleynat

Welcome to the class of 2016/17!

This weeks post comes courtesy of our new Sustainability Projects Officer Tytus Murphy. Get to know the new team members and read more about what we do here

The Sustainability Team at King’s work closely with our colleagues in Estates and Facilities to ensure our campuses and halls of residence are in tip top shape.

We are making progress in reducing the College’s carbon footprint, extending our recycling schemes into every nook and cranny and pushing for sustainable education and careers to become a focal point of life at King’s. We are very passionate about making these changes and championing the students and staff who help to make this happen.

Fresher's stall7

We look forward to hearing your ideas about sustainability.

One of our most important roles and the thing we most like doing is to engage with students. Sure, we will share with you our top 5 tips on how to reduce your impact on the planet (see below) but we also encourage diverse discussion on the pressing sustainability issues of the time. This usually takes the form of putting on forums and supporting student-led events, where we come together to discuss subjects ranging from aquaponics to energy security in the EU to the impacts of green spaces (or lack of) on mental health.

The 3rd of October will see the inaugural launch of Sustainability Week in halls which will feature a series of exciting sustainability-themed events including film screenings and cycle safety sessions.

The centre piece of the week is the launch of the energy saving campaign NUS Student Switch-Off. Prizes for the most creative and brilliant energy savers include Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and NUS Extra Cards. Save some energy, win some ice-cream – what’s not to like?

SSO

Neil Jennings from the NUS Student Switch Off. He is serious.

There are a number of excellent environmentally and socially focused student groups at King’s such as EcoSoc, Fossil Free and Enactus that you should definitely know about. They all host events, put on socials and run campaigns providing a plethora of wonderful opportunities to learn new things, meet interesting people and make positive impacts on campus and beyond.

These groups and the Sustainability Team will be present and correct at the upcoming Fresher’s Fair and will also be participating in Sustainability Week. So come say hi, find more out about what we do and pick up some free Clipper Tea!

The King’s Sustainability Team offers information about on-campus activities, opportunities for career development and effusive support to students with an interest in sustainability. We look forward to meeting and collaborating with the class of 2016/17.

Now time for those top 5 tips:

  1. Transport: London is a super city to explore by bike. Cycling is cheaper, will get you from A to B way quicker and will also keep you fit.
  2. Food and drink: Eating less meat and dairy, hitting up your local farmers market for seasonal produce and buying organic are all super ways to reduce your environmental impact.
  3. Energy: Switching off appliances that you are not using is a no brainer for the planet and will also help reduce the College’s energy bills.
  4. (Thrift) Shopping: London charity shops and freecycle are treasure troves of pre-loved stuff.
  5. Occasionally we miss things, so please report any dripping taps, left on lights, etc. you see on campus or in halls to ask@kcl.ac.uk

You can get in touch with us by email sustainability@kcl.ac.uk and contact us through Facebook or Twitter. Keep up with the latest news by reading our blog and by subscribing to our mailing list.

Fresher's stall5

Hearts and minds are won over at our Freshers stall.

 

 

Watch: Principal Professor Ed Byrne’s speech at the KCL Sustainability Champions Awards 2016

On Tuesday the 5th July the annual Sustainability Awards were held at the Great Hall at Strand. The event represented the culmination of the Sustainability Champions scheme which has seen over 100 staff and students actively involved as Sustainability Champions. Their actions over the past year have affected almost 2000 members of staff across the University.

Professor Ed Byrne, the President & Principal of King’s College London, praised the leadership by staff and students in collectively working to reduce the University’s carbon footprint.

Transcript:

“I am really pleased to be with you tonight. I don’t think there is any more important task that any of us in our lives have, as far as society and the planet goes, than the sustainability agenda. It’s been prominent for most of my life but getting increasingly clear that for 8-9 billion people to live on this planet with reasonable qualities of life requires so many things to change.

Sustainability is crucial in itself, but as I have travelled the world and especially as I have visited India and China increasingly over the years I have come to realise that sustainable development is also important. It is not just about maintaining a relatively small number people in the west on a very high standard of living, we have to reach a stage where everyone on the planet has a reasonable quality of life in a sustainable way.

Now this is an immense journey from where we are now and I have a belief that universities are a crucial part of the journey. Part of that is obvious. The Millenium Sustainable Development Goals have been contributed to very significantly by an academic network around the world. We all know of fantastic individual institutions like the Earth Institute at Columbia which do fantastic work in planning for the future. At King’s we are forming an alliance most of you may have heard of called the PLuS Alliance with the University of New South Wales and Arizona State University. A contribution in a broader sense to sustainability and sustainable development is at the heart of this alliance. Now this is all a little bit esoteric in one sense, in research intensive institutions we can contribute ideas for the future, we can do modelling we can do planning, we can deal in technological advances that are all incredibly helpful. But at the end of the day we all have to do something else as well. And that is to make sure that our own impact on the world around is as friendly in an environmental sense as it possibly can be. And if universities are going to champion this we must also be champions of how we act and deal with things in the day to day so that our energy footprint is as modest as it possibly can be.

We are doing all of that at King’s and this is something that has been increasingly embraced by the King’s community led by our students, with fantastic leadership by the students but coming together more broadly with a cross university working group. We have been looking at every aspect of the story: how we run our buildings, how we use energy ourselves, what research and intellectual proposition we can give that help understand and improve these huge issues, how we can provide an example by developing more fit for purpose investment policies for our financial reserves to make sure that we are investing in environmentally friendly industries. The list goes on and on.

This isn’t about me. It’s not even about a small number of people. It’s about many, many people in our university community who are implementing changes on the ground, supporting our sustainability champions that we are here to honour but also for all of us in our everyday life who are doing things whether it is in our job description or not. From lab managers and office managers, cleaners who make sure our waste is recycled, managers who show leadership and support their staff, the engineers, the security staff who have a responsibility to make sure our waste goes in the right bins, making sure your lights are turned off when you leave your office at the end of the day. These all seem small actions and maybe individually they are small, but when you add them up collectively they add up to a commitment to do our very best to be as environmentally friendly as we can in our own energy footprint.

Now students are totally committed to this area. The expectations of our student body are increasing and thank goodness that’s the case. We have had student leaders really leading the university thinking in many aspects of sustainability and sustainable development. I have already alluded briefly to the work of the Socially Responsible Investment Review Committee over the past year, the Ethics and Environmental Careers Conference that our students ran. I would also like to mention that our students have been heavily involved in social enterprises and student environmental societies. These are all fantastic developments.

I wanted to highlight how students can be involved with a range of examples: extending from the King’s graduate who is a paid intern who runs the scheme every year, as well as students who support the sustainability champions scheme directly and all of those that acted as auditors for our workbooks. It is clear that whatever they study, whatever faculty they’re in, our students should be able to leave King’s with an education that allows them to be part of the solution to the social, economic and environmental challenges our world faces.

As King’s gets larger, bigger as a university, we have to work on these issues even harder. It is a good thing our environmental impact is not growing at the same rate as our university is overall. So far we have a good track record on energy use. We have reduced our carbon footprint by 8.8 percent since 2005/2006 despite significant growth in staff and student numbers. But in order to achieve the reductions needed by the planet, 43% by 2020, we all need to think about how we can be even more efficient in how we use university resources, space and equipment. Give attention to your laboratory usage: look at integrating sustainable and efficient practices in our scientific practices generally across our research spectrum. Be aware that as KCLs research and environment are steadily growing, it is important that we restrain growth in our energy usage and that it is not growing at the same rate. We are starting on that journey but it is a journey and we are not yet where we need to be.

I would like to finish by thanking everybody in this room for your individual contributions. This is a community effort by the King’s community. The fact that we have so many champions coming through is just fantastic. On behalf of the King’s community, we look forward to seeing even more champions. Thank you all and let’s now enjoy the presentations to those that deserve it and have made such a contribution over the past year. Thank you.”

Investing in Efficiency: Solar Panels at Great Dover Street Apartments

As we discussed last week, King’s is currently reviewing the methods and guidelines that exist for fundraising, research grants, procurement and investments. Aligning procedures with ethical values matters because it signals an active commitment to shifting our economy towards a low-carbon trajectory.

Building a more sustainable institution requires more than rewriting existing policy, however. At a practical level, our most significant environmental impact stems from keeping the lights on across our sites. With 27,600 registered students, 6,600 staff members, five London campuses and more than ten halls of residence, King’s is a prodigious consumer of energy. Reducing our carbon footprint through investments in energy efficiency and switching to alternative forms of energy therefore represents an area of significant potential impact.

King’s College London has committed to a reduction of 43% in carbon emissions by 2019/2020 against a 2005/06 baseline. This effort has been targeted at emissions arising from the use of oil, gas and electricity in daily operations. As outlined in the 2011 Carbon Management Plan, King’s low carbon vision is to reduce carbon emissions through the application of energy efficiency methods and the use of low carbon technologies.

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CO2 emissions 2008-2009: Energy use in buildings comprises the vast majority of the total footprint

Investing in smarter, greener and less energy-intensive systems is already bringing economic and environmental dividends. Since 2005/06, the implementation of the Carbon Management Plan has led to annual savings of approximately £3.6m. In 2014/2015 alone, investments in energy efficiency projects led to reductions in excess of 688tCO2e.

Yet, as the number of King’s students and staff continues to grow and as the university expands to new sites, there is a need to scale investments in carbon reduction projects to achieve the 43% reduction target by 2019/2020. Jon Wibberley, Karen Shaw and the wider Sustainability Team are continuously working towards identifying the most promising areas for investment in energy savings.

Over the past year, this effort has centred on upgrading heating and lighting in a number of King’s Residences. Undoubtedly, the most eye-catching of these carbon reduction projects has been the installation of solar panels on the roof of the Great Dover Street Apartments (GDSA). The panels were installed on Blocks 1-10 of GDSA in the spring semester of 2016 and are now fully operational.

With a net capacity of 84.97kW and an estimated annual electricity generation of 71,510 kWh, the panels are expected to result in annual onsite savings of £9,140. These savings are projected to increase by approximately £1000 p.a. going forward to 2025. At an installation cost of £119,635, this represents excellent value for money.

Solar panels on the roof of GDSA

Solar panels on the roof of GDSA

The solar panel installation at GDSA is not solely the product of long-sighted thinking by the King’s Energy team, however. Students were involved in initial conversations held between KCLSU and KCL to jointly fund the GDSA solar panels. In the end the UK government’s decision to reduce the feed-in tariffs from January 1st 2016 meant that there was not enough time to finalise the project. Nevertheless, Energy Management Coordinator Karen Shaw credits the broad student support for renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives as important in “building momentum for future projects”.

This support is evident through the actions taken in the student council. In 2014/2015 two key motions were adopted: one formulated an Ethical Investment Policy while the other encouraged KCLSU to explore alternative ethical banking providers. The outcome of this combined effort was that KCLSU moved a third of its reserves to an account with the ethical investment bank Triodos and replaced Natwest with MetroBank as its commercial banking provider.

Student involvement is not only important in helping carbon reduction projects get off the ground, but also in ensuring they are successful once they lift off. In addition to the solar panels, the spring semester saw several other upgrades at GDSA: personal fridges were replaced by larger communal fridges in the kitchens, LED lights and presence detectors were installed in kitchens and hallways and a more efficient heating system will be installed. These changes are part of a five year refurbishment project taking place at both Great Dover Street and Stamford Street.

A number of other major projects which have been completed successfully are worth mentioning: solar PV and Combined Heat & Power (CHP) is contributing to substantial energy savings at Champion Hill; Ground Source Cooling has been installed at the at the Wohl; Ground Source Heat Pumps are in operation at Cicely Saunders and both Cicely Saunders and Honour Oak Park use solar thermal energy to heat water.

Honour Oak Park

Honour Oak Park

Many more projects are in the pipeline over the next couple of years as part of a broader strategy to “design out” energy use from daily operations.

Yet, technological solutions can only go so far. Achieving real energy savings requires the participation of students. And here the good news is that lots of students are very conscious of the need to save energy. This past academic year, students in Stamford Street Apartments, Great Dover Street Apartments, Wolfson House and Champion Hill used 4.3% less energy compared to the 2014/15 academic year. Students play a role both in conserving energy and in identifying areas of energy wastage.

Going forward we hope to build on these achievements and lower our impact further. Students will remain central to this ambition being realised.

As always if you have comments, queries or suggestions do not hesitate to get in touch:

tobias.1.udsholt@kcl.ac.uk / sustainability@kcl.ac.uk

Follow us on twitter @KCLSustainable

Bike Week at King’s

Header-banner-728x90pxThis week is Bike Week at King’s. Bike Week is a national campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of cycling under the headline ‘everyday cycling for everyone’.

Participate in Bike Week by biking to work or university every day this week!

The latest bike news at King’s is that more bicycle parking racks have been set up outside the Maughan Library.

We want to continue to make being cyclist at King’s easier and more convenient. We are using the occasion of Bike Week to collect suggestions for how we can improve facilities available to bike users at King’s. If you have 5 minutes to fill out our short survey we would very much appreciate your input: http://bit.ly/1syryzh.

Please spread the word to any fellow cyclists! The survey closes on Monday the 20th of June.

Other bike-related events taking place in London this week:

  • Dr. Bike will be in Green Park on the afternoon of Friday the 17th of June. Get your bike checked and registered free of charge.
  • Register your bike online now, here.
  • The Royal Parks are hosting events all week to promote considerate cycling. Find out more here.

You can always drop us an email with any suggestions or feedback on sustainability@kcl.ac.uk

 

A Look Back at the SRIRC and Changes Taking Place at King’s

Hello everyone,

First things first, my name is Tobias Udsholt and I will be working with the Sustainability Team at King’s over the next few months.

As a student at King’s I have spent a lot of time engaged on issues relating to asustainability. Now that I have completed my degree, I am very excited to spend the summer months putting words into action. I will only be with the team for a short period of time before I begin an MSc in Environmental Economics at LSE in September, but I hope to get a lot done. You can get in touch with me directly on tobias.1.udsholt@kcl.ac.uk.

One area of particular interest to me is the debate over the role and responsibilities of universities in relation to the array of societal challenges we collectively face. As I see it, universities stand uniquely placed to nurture an understanding of the importance of sustainability amongst its students while playing a positive and active role in the wider social debate.

Grass root campaigns calling for divestment from fossil fuel companies have sparked intense debate on university campuses over the past few years. How far should universities go in taking a stance on issues such as climate change? Can engagement with companies whose business-models centre on the extraction of fossil fuels help shift us towards a more sustainable trajectory? And how should strategical objectives be balanced with ethical dilemmas?

King’s responded to the Fossil Free KCL campaign in November 2015, by setting up the Socially Responsible Investment Review Committee (SRIRC) and tasking it with a wide-ranging review of practices. On the same occasion Professor Ed Byrne, the Principal of King’s, released a statement reiterating “the commitment of King’s College London to doing more to bring about a low carbon and just world.”

The review conducted at King’s is distinct from the approach taken by many other universities in the UK. Rather than focusing solely on the framework for making investment decisions, the scope of the SRIRC extends to in-house energy management, research grants and contracts, fundraising, procurement and of course investments. By formulating a new university-wide strategy for incorporating ethical considerations into daily-operations, sustainability is put on the agenda across the board. This presents a good opportunity for the Sustainability Team to feed in ideas for new sustainable procedures in a variety of areas. If you want to participate in this process you can either send your recommendations directly to ian.creagh@kcl.ac.uk or via us at sustainability@kcl.ac.uk.

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On Wednesday, the SRIRC held its second Open Forum to discuss the draft recommendations issued by the committee. I invite you all to browse through the discussion points but among the highlights are the following:

  • King’s plans to identify high quality managers that specialise in investments in solutions to climate change and other environmentally friendly issues.
  • King’s is currently working to create more incentives for academics to disclose consulting engagements.
  • There is spectrum for closer supervision of the supply-chains of contractors employed by King’s.
  • Policy is in place to reject prospective funding from organisations that are deemed harmful.

The discussion paper also revealed that King’s has been an important player in the establishment of a new tobacco-free fund at BlackRock Investments. This illustrates that there are a number of options available to secondary investors that do not directly control the destination of their investment.

The Open Forum itself was lively and well-attended. The panel-speakers included two student representatives, Dr. Tytus Murphy and Nadine Almanasfi, the Student Union President, as well as Ian Creagh, Head of Administration and College Secretary, Chris Mottershead, Vice-Principal (Research & Innovation) and Professor Sridhar Venkatapuram. In the ensuing question-and-answer session students probed the criteria set out to identify opportunities for positive investment and how the governance structure of the committee will be formalised going forward.

The SRIRC will make their final recommendations to the Principal by October.

Next week is Bike Week at King’s so expect a foray of information on cycling facilities, safety and initiatives at King’s.

Until next time!