Category: Staff (Page 1 of 8)

Meet the King’s Sustainability Team

As we approach a new academic year, we wanted to take the time to introduce ourselves – the people behind sustainability at King’s!

Kat Thorne – Director of Sustainability

Kat is the director of Sustainability at King’s and oversees all aspects of embedding sustainability across the college. Kat not only manages the sustainability team but decides on its overarching environmental aims and objectives. She also decides, with input from the wider Estates and Facilities team, on the projects and programs and strategies and actions plans required to deliver on those aims and objectives. She has nurtured the sustainability team to where they are today, ensuring that both staff and students are aware of the importance of their role in ensuring King’s reaches its net Zero Carbon Target by 2025. She held the same position at the University of Greenwich until 2013, helping the university achieve first place in People & Planet’s Green League.  

 

Nicola Hogan – Sustainability Manager (Operations)

Nicola’s main responsibility is ensuring King’s continues to be accredited with the environmental management system ISO14001 and that sustainability is built into the design and construction of any new buildings and refurbishments across the estate.  Nicola also manages several other and varied aspects of environmental operations at King’s ensuring each of the campuses environmental footprint remains a small as practicable.  Prior to joining the team, Nicola worked at Goldsmiths, University of London, the EAUC and the University of Limerick – in both managerial and research roles. 

 

Josh Pullen – Waste to Resource Project Coordinator

Josh is managing the Waste to Resources project which aims to increase the university’s non-hazardous waste recycling rate to 70% and increase the reuse of bulky waste such as furniture.

 

Maria Rabanser – Sustainability Officer

Maria manages the King’s Climate Action Network (King’s CAN) and works on the development of our Climate Action Strategy, as well as on sustainability data and reporting.

She graduated from the Department of Geography at King’s in 2015 and completed an MSc at LSE before joining the  Sustainability Team in September 2016.

 

Ali Hepple – Sustainability Officer

Ali’s main focus is around engagement, organising events, supporting the 500+ staff in the Sustainability Champions programme and students across the university on various projects.

She joined the Sustainability Team in October 2018 after completing her BA in Geography at King’s. During her degree, she supported the University of London’s Reduce the Juice programme, developed an initiative to introduce vegan meals in University of London halls, and supported King’s Food in submitting their first  Sustainable Restaurant Association rating.

 

Julie Allen – Energy Manager

Julie manages King’s Energy, which includes the utilities budgets and contracts, and leads on delivering, updating and monitoring the University’s Carbon Management Plan. She is continually searching for energy-saving opportunities to reduce King’s emissions and overall environmental impact.

 

 

Angeliki Karydi – Energy Management Coordinator

Angeliki joined King’s in December 2019, after completing her MA in Corporate Sustainability at Radboud University. She supports Julie as part of the energy team and is responsible for energy data analysis and reporting.

 

Jone de Roode Jauregui – Climate Action Assistant

Jone supports our work around climate action and the development of the Climate Action Strategy.

She recently completed her BSc in International Management at King’s,  during which time she was actively involved in the King’s CAN, as a sub-group member and team volunteer.

 

Rachel Harrington-Abrams – Climate Action Assistant

Rachel supports our work coordinating climate-related research and education across the university as part of the King’s Climate Action Strategy. 

She is also a PhD student in the Department of Geography, researching the multilateral governance of climate change adaptation decision-making, and works in the Sustainability team alongside her PhD for two days a week. 

 

Emily Read – Engagement Assistant

Emily supports the team with engagement and communications, and leads on the forthcoming sustainability podcast.

She is also completing her PhD in Cell Therapies and Regenerative Medicine at King’s.

 

Bethan Spacey – Engagement Assistant

Bethan supports the team with engagement and communications, and leads on creating digital content.

She is also a 3rd year BA English student at King’s, and former president of King’s VegSoc.

 

Helena Fazeli – Engagement Assistant

Helena supports the team with engagement and communications, and leads on the Sustainability newsletter and blog.

She completed her BA in Geography at King’s in 2020 and recently moved back to London after living in Chios, Greece and volunteering with an education-focused NGO working with asylum-seekers and refugees.

 

 

 

King’s Energy: Grant funded – ‘Mapping the Food Waste-Energy-Water-Emissions Nexus at Commercial Kitchens’

This guest blog comes from Julie Allen, Energy Manager at King’s.

In June 2020, KCL (along with Arizona State University, Dublin City University and City University of Hong Kong) submitted a grant application to GCSO (Global Consortium of Sustainability Outcomes) for a proposal to create a Certification for Sustainable Kitchens – and we got the grant!

In March this year, our interim findings were published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, in a paper entitled ‘Mapping the Food Waste-Energy-Water-Emissions Nexus at Commercial Kitchens: a systems approach for a More Sustainable Food Service Sector.’

I’m a published Author!

To break it down, here is a little background.

I have many years of experience in the commercial catering sector. There are always efforts to address food waste, OR energy consumption, OR water consumption, but never anything to look at the whole life cycle of the food going through a commercial kitchen. So that’s what we did. Our role at King’s was to provide energy consumption data from King’s Kitchen (which is excellently managed!). We also had to manage the expectations of our colleagues in other universities, as there can be a huge difference between theory and practice.

The paper looks at the impact of food on the climate – from the water used to grow the food, the transportation carbon miles, the energy to grow and prepare it, the amount of waste generated (not only from food preparation but also packaging) – and an analysis of a particular meal from field to fork. It’s been a fascinating journey looking at how different countries, organisations and sectors produce and sell food, even down to expectations around metering (we were asked to meter each tap until I explained it would take the whole grant!).

It’s been a fantastic journey, which isn’t over yet – we’ve had an extension until December 2021, so watch this space for further developments!

If you have any further questions or want to get involved with King’s Energy, get in touch.

How to reduce, reuse, and recycle your way to a more sustainable lab

This guest blog comes from Dr Nicola Harris, postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Chemistry

Lab-based research is not sustainable. If you work in a lab, think about how many tips, gloves and plastic tubes you throw away every day and then think about how many labs in the world do the same. In fact, labs are estimated to be responsible for 5.5 million tonnes of plastic waste per year. Unfortunately, alternatives to single-use plastics in the lab can be hard to come by or are labour intensive, and safety concerns mean that clinical and contaminated waste needs treating – usually by energy-intensive incineration or autoclaving (or both).

As well as the need to reduce plastic waste, CO2 emissions, electronic waste and over-consumption are also all problems with lab research. Labs use 10 times more energy than offices and 4 times more water.

We are all familiar with reduce, reuse, recycle at home – but how can we apply these in the lab? Here are some tips to help your lab move towards being more sustainable while our suppliers catch up. These tips are primarily based on my own experiences in life sciences research – I do protein-based research, with a lot of molecular biology and RNase-free work. Check out My Green Lab and LEAF for more tips!

Reduce

Probably the most important step to take right now, with the biggest impact.

New equipment – do you really need it? Can you borrow someone else’s? Does another group need something – can you share and buy it together instead of getting one each?

Reagents. If you need something, double check you don’t have it already tucked away at the back of a shelf before ordering more (a lab inventory is very useful for this). Do other groups have some you can borrow?

Consolidate autoclave runs. Does it only run when full?

Reduce lab energy consumption. Turn Ultra-Low Temperature (ULT) freezers up to -70 °C, using around 30 – 40 % less energy than -80 °C. Regular defrosts will also help freezers consume less energy. Shut fume hood sashes when not in use – a single fume hood uses the same amount of energy as a household. Turn other equipment off when not in use – most things don’t need to be on overnight and at the weekend (turning off also increases the lifetime of the equipment).

Use pipette tip refills instead of new boxes. You can autoclave refilled boxes yourself, and tip refills come in RNase-free filter tip varieties too!

Improve sterile technique. Reduce plastic waste by using a glass or metal cell spreader – these can be sterilised with ethanol and a flame and are as sterile as a plastic disposable spreader (in my opinion more sterile, as people’s hands go in and out of the packet for the disposable ones!).

Think about what you are doing and why. Protein research does not really need tips to be sterile, for example. Buffers generally don’t need to be filtered and autoclaved, and the purest water isn’t necessarily required.

Reuse

Glass alternatives. Many single-use plastics have glass alternatives that can be washed and reused. Buffers can be made in glass bottles instead of plastic tubes, and cell cultures can be grown in autoclaved glass bottles. Reusing glass many times over will result in fewer emissions, even if it needs autoclaving. Remember that disposal of contaminated plastics requires autoclaving or incineration anyway – so you might as well autoclave glassware instead.

Plastics can be washed out and reused. This may not be an attractive option, however, as it is fairly labour intensive.

Re-home old equipment. If you need new equipment, there are options to buy equipment that other labs no longer need (for example from Warp It and Richmond Scientific). Similarly, if you no longer need some equipment then it can be used in someone else’s lab.

Recycle

Unlike at home, recycling in a lab can be difficult. Waste contractors can be unhappy about taking waste that could be contaminated – but it is worth talking to them about it if you are able to.

Plastic reagent bottles. Check the resin type (1, 2 and 5 are most commonly accepted), remove the hazard label and wash out thoroughly for recycling.

Uncontaminated card and paper. The easiest thing to recycle from labs – packaging in particular.

Take-back schemes. Lots of companies do take-back schemes – for example, New England Biolabs take back their cold shipping polystyrene boxes, and Starlab take back their pipette tip boxes and tip wafers. Check with your suppliers to see if they offer any take-back schemes (or encourage them to start one!).

Ice packs. Most life sciences labs will be familiar with the huge pile of ice packs that can build up in a dusty corner of the lab. Good news – 2B Scientific recycle ice packs.

One step further

The above examples are some easy-to-follow tips – there are many more things that can be done to make your lab greener. For example, you can talk to companies about their sustainability policies, challenge them on their plastics, and feedback about their packaging. You can also liaise with your waste contractor to find out how they feel about recycling. Check My Green Lab and LEAF for bigger-scope ideas to improve your lab sustainability.

Take away messages

  • It’s ok to start small
  • If you are new – don’t be afraid to ask questions and make suggestions
  • Go for ‘easy wins’
  • Switch suppliers to support greener companies (e.g. we switched to New England Biolabs for our DNA purification kits and 2B Scientific for protein expression kits)

Don’t worry if you can’t do much – lab culture can be hard to change, and you may not have much control over how things are done in your lab. But every step helps – try something, and your example may encourage other people to take greener steps too!

A big thanks to LEAF and the King’s Chemistry sustainability team for the inspiration and ideas to make our lab greener.

Find out more about King’s Lab Sustainability Champions here.

Resources

My Green Lab https://www.mygreenlab.org/

LEAF https://www.ucl.ac.uk/sustainable/staff/labs/take-part-leaf

Richmond Scientific https://www.richmondscientific.com/

Warp It https://www.warp-it.co.uk/

Starlab https://www.starlabgroup.com/GB-en/about-starlab/sustainability.html

2B Scientific https://www.2bscientific.com/

New England Biolabs https://www.neb.uk.com/news/the-neb-shipping-box-recycling-programme

 

Appreciating our local green spaces

This guest blog comes from Abbie Russell, Engagement Officer and Sustainability Champion at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN). With contribution from Louise Bolderstone, James Hollands, and Annicka Ancliff.

With this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme of ‘Nature’, we couldn’t not talk about our local green spaces – the value they bring. For some of us, visiting the local park has been a highlight of the day or the week during lockdown. There’s a lot of research, including IoPPN research, that suggests that exposure to trees, the sky and birdsong in cities is beneficial for mental wellbeing. 

One thing I do miss about working on campus is going for lunchtime walks through the park (shout out to Ruskin Park near Denmark Hill Campus!) with colleagues. It was so nice, that the Bee Team (aka IoPPN Main Building Sustainability Champions) organised regular lunchtime walks, the Ruskin Park Appreciation Walks, and we would be joined by colleagues from all over the faculty. It was a great chance to network, share ideas, research, and meet new people.

When lockdown hit – we decided to keep the conversation going online, with Teams meetings and a refresh of the Yammer group. We changed the name to Local Park Appreciation. This allowed us to open up this space to the entire King’s community and it now has 111 active members.

In this blog we explore some of the groups favourite local green spaces.

Hilly Fields, South East London (Abbie Russell, IoPPN)

My favourite thing about South East London is the number of great parks and amount of green space. I’ve recently discovered Hilly Fields since moving to a new house and it’s my new favourite sunrise spot. From the top of the hill, you can see for miles – trees in one direction, and city in the other.

Hilly Fields is in Brockley and is surrounded by lots of other green spaces: One Tree Hill, Ladywell Fields, and Peckham Rye Park.

Beckenham Place Park (Louise Bolderstone, Research Management and Innovation)

In the last year I have got to know Beckenham Place Park even better as it has been the focus of my weekends and I have walked in it with a friend most weeks, although prior to that I was a regular visitor. My appreciation and knowledge of this wonderful place has expanded in an equal proportion to the contractions of my horizon.

The park has benefited from additional funding in the last few years contributing to a place that provides a variety of activities for everyone, from open water swimming to exploring the ancient woodland to relaxing with some food or drink from the onsite café. However, its true value lies in the space afforded to everyone to enjoy by virtue of it being the largest park in the borough and at times, it feels like the entire borough is trying to squeeze in.  That does not detract from enjoying its beauty though because there is always a way to find a solitary path. I get a sense of calm from walking around and seeing all of the different plants, trees and greens offering a counterbalance to the craziness of the world during these last months. I love the twisted trees that have stood there for so many years and I have comfort knowing they have been there through many trials and continue to stand.

I have witnessed a transformation in the park’s popularity in the last year but its natural lifecycle has continued regardless.  The bluebells are nearly out again, after the carnival of daffodils.  Snow has surprised everyone and covered the open greens and settled gently in the woods. The parakeets continue to reign supreme and the wild meadow areas have sprung up and down again hosting kaleidoscopes of butterflies and hardworking bees.  There is peace and life co-existing simultaneously in this place and it brings me joy to see the old and the new living in harmony.  No matter what the next year brings, I know that Beckenham Place Park will be there.

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Greenwich Park (James Hollands, Registry Services)

During lockdown, the importance of getting outside and seeing green spaces has never been more important – both for our physical and mental health.  As I live in Woolwich, one of my favourite walks has been walking along the Thames Path to Greenwich, and then walking along around Greenwich Park.

Located near to the River Thames in South-East London, the park is open all year round and is listed as Grade I on the Register of Historical Parks and Gardens.  During London 2012 it was used for Olympic equestrian events as well as the Modern Pentathlon.  The park has a large sweeping green space which means even when the park is busy, you can walk around it easily.  The park is home to several tree and plant species, which means that even in wintertime, there is something out in bloom, and it also has lovely clean fresh air.

The park is on 2 levels, and at the top of the hill in the park is the Royal Observatory, which the prime meridian passes through.  There is also a beautiful view at the top of the hill from which you can see Canary Wharf and the National Maritime Museum.  I love to be able to sit and look at these views, whilst enjoying the tranquillity of the park.

I would recommend giving the park a visit.  It is a short walk from Greenwich railway station, Greenwich Pier, and multiple bus routes.

                                 

Southwark Park (Annicka Ancliff, Research & Development, IoPPN)

In the last few months, Southwark Park has been my favourite walking/running spot. I used to follow the Thames Path on walks but since there are more people out and about I have preferred the park to avoid the crowds.

There was one run in particular which will always stay in my memory and that was the other day. It was so sunny and the park was buzzing, I saw a few runners and other people either using the outdoor gym or doing other fitness activities. In the course of my run, I was greeted by a tiny puppy which was an absolute delight and then a little girl offered (or possibly showed) me a flower I kept running past her but shouted my thanks at her.

It has been so nice to see people enjoying the parks more as the weather has improved and the lockdown has been eased.

What about your own local parks? Let us know and get involved online.

All King’s staff and students are welcome to join the Local Park Appreciation group on Yammer.

 

Sustainability Month 2021 – Round-Up #4

This blog is the fourth in a series of four posts on Sustainability Month 2021.

SWEET & SUSTAINABLE: FAIRTRADE VEGAN GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE BROWNIE BAKING CLASS WITH KING’S FOOD 

Ending the month on a sweet and sustainable note, we learned how to make King’s Food’s delicious Fairtrade vegan and gluten-free brownies.  

This event, along with the Fairtrade Fortnight Launch event we hosted on 22 February,  marked the Fairtrade Fortnight festival which ran from 22 Feb to 7 March 

What is Fairtrade Fortnight? 

Fairtrade is about better prices and working conditions for producers, as well as improving local sustainability. By working with farmers, businesses and consumers, Fairtrade sets social, economic and environmental standards for food production. 

In addition to bringing awareness to the Fairtrade accreditation and its impact on producers, this year’s festival focused on ‘Climate, Fairtrade and You,’ delving into the complex links between farmers, global food productionwhat we put in our plates and the climate crisis. If you’d like to learn more about these issues, catch up on the wonderful events from this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight.  

What is King’s doing to support Fairtrade?  

All teacoffee and chocolate at King’s and KCLSU is certified as Fairtrade. King’s Food has also worked to remove unsustainable brand such as Coca Colato more ethical and Fairtrade brands, such as Karma Cola. KCLSU even stocks some Fairtrade certified alcohol in the SU bars! King’s Sustainability Team, King’s Food and KCLSU run a quarterly Sustainable Food & Fairtrade Steering Group. This is open to any student or staff member at King’s to suggest sustainable ideas/projects and this is also where progress, such as King’s’ Fairtrade accreditation is reported on.  

 

Recordings of the events can now be found on our Kaltura.  

If you’d like to stay in touch, sign up for our monthly newsletter and follow us on InstagramFacebook or Twitter. 

Sustainability Month 2021 – Round-Up #2

This blog is the second in a series of four posts on Sustainability Month 2021.

#TAKEACTION HACKATHON 

King’s Sustainability hosted our first-ever Sustainability Hackathon! 

Hackathons provide an opportunity for a group to work together to discuss and develop real solutions to a problem.  

We presented 4 sustainability challenges we want to tackle at King’s and attendees contributed thoughtful and insightful ways forward: 

  • How can we further support diversity within the field of sustainability (from the education of school pupils, college and university life and into careers)? 
    • Elevate and highlight sustainability role models from a diverse range of backgrounds. 
    • Recognize and discuss the interconnected roots of the climate crisis and racial and social oppression. 
    • Move beyond the over-individualistic approach to sustainability that is largely inaccessible for many, by meeting people where they are and widening the range of ways people can get involved. 
    • Seek to better understand and remove the barriers facing different people from getting involved in sustainability.  
  • What should an online open-access sustainability-focused Keats module at King’s look like? 
    • Make this module part of King’s Experience Awards or offer credit so that the module adds value to students’ educational experience. 
    • Create an interactive module with optional levels of engagement. 
    • Ensure the module includes relevant topics for students across faculties – why should students be interested? 
  • How can King’s Sustainability improve its communications to engage more students? 
    • Better communicate what King’s is already doing and achieving. 
    • Connect to students by relating sustainability to their area of study and creating easy-to-digest and engaging content. 
    • Invite students and staff to share their sustainability stories. 
    • Run campaigns, competitions and giveaways to incentivize more students to engage with sustainability. 
  • How can King’s encourage students to have more conversations about sustainability?
    • Create an environmental series of Campus Conversations, a podcast or a seminar series, open to all and covering a range of topics within sustainability. 
    • Host community get-togethers for discussion and debate around specific topics – “Sustainability Socials. 
    • Collaborate with societies and other parts of King’s to embed sustainability in campaigns and initiatives. 

Do you have any thoughts, ideas or solutions about how to tackle these challenges? Let us know! 

 

CLIMATE ACTION PANEL 

On the 26th of February, we hosted the King’s Climate Education Panel. Climate Education has been a popular topic at King’s for a while – the KCL Climate Action Society has been running an education campaign, the King’s 100 discussed it last year, and the Climate Action Network has dedicated the Students & Education sub-group to the issue.   

This panel was a chance to hear from the experts. Our panel was made up of Professor Adam Fagan, Professor of European Politics and Vice-Dean (Education) in SSPP, Dr Kate Greer, Research Associate in the School of Education, Communication and Society, Sigrið Leivsdottir, President of KCL Climate Action Society and Taimi Vilkko, Vice-President and Treasurer of the KCL Climate Action Society.   

We covered a range of interesting issues during the session: the need to go beyond teaching just knowledge about climate change and instead also teach how to take action and live with climate change, supporting staff if they are asked to embed climate into their programmes, and that we may not need everyone to be on board just yet as long as we have a group of dedicated leaders and followers. There were also a few ideas on actions King’s can take right now, such as reaffirming our commitments to climate change, and even influencing higher education policy on climate teaching as we move towards hosting COP26 in the UK later this year.   

The Students & Education group of the King’s Climate Action Network is excited to potentially take some of these suggestions forward and propose them for the King’s Climate Action Strategy.

 

Recordings of the events can now be found on our Kaltura.  

If you’d like to stay in touch, sign up for our monthly newsletter and follow us on InstagramFacebook or Twitter. 

King’s Energy: What is energy?

This guest blog comes from Rebecca Lindsay, BA Philosophy and Spanish student and Sustainability Champion Assistants (SCA), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

The world of energy often feels like a world of jargon. Emissions, baselines, decarbonisation – what does it all actually mean?

In the most basic terms, energy is “the ability to do work.” So when we talk about energy, we’re talking about electricity, gas, diesel and other types of power. King’s energy is also responsible for managing King’s water usage.

When reducing your carbon emissions, it’s important to consider energy efficiency. Essentially, the more efficient an appliance is, the less energy it uses to do the same amount of work. Energy = Power x Time. Some quick GCSE physics revision for you there!

But higher energy usage doesn’t always mean less efficient. It’s also important to change where we get our energy from – to decarbonise. Decarbonisation, simply put, aims to reduce our economy’s reliance on carbon and fossil fuels. Solar, wind and hydropower are all examples of renewable alternatives.

There are lots of benefits to switching to renewable energy sources – not just for your bank account! Here are just a few:

  • It creates more jobs.
  • It diversifies energy sources, meaning less importing and a stronger economy.
  • It’s cheaper! Carbon is a finite resource and increasingly expensive, whereas renewable energy is more widely available.
  • Most importantly, it reduces our impact on the planet and helps slow global warming.

Long story short: save money, save the planet.

How to we use energy at King’s?

As a research-heavy university, we use a lot of energy. So it’s up to us to be responsible with where we get it from.

Our shift to renewables is well under way. Since October 2017, all electricity directly purchased by King’s has come from 100% UK wind energy.

Both Great Dover Street Apartments and Champion Hill, two of King’s residences, have solar panels. Not only saving money, but also reducing our impact on the planet.

In Autumn 2019, King’s was one of 20 universities to sign a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with onshore wind farms in Scotland and Wales, the first deal of its kind in the country!

Universities also make lots of investments, often in fossil fuels. King’s, however, has committed to divest from all fossil fuels by the end of 2022, and to invest 40% of its funds in investments with socially responsible benefits by 2025.

We’re also developing a Climate Action Strategy alongside the King’s Climate Action Network to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2025.

As you can see, there’s lots to be done. With target deadlines fast approaching, the emphasis on clean energy has never been greater. It’s a great time to get involved! For information on how to support us, email us over at energy@kcl.ac.uk.

Energy at King’s

This guest blog comes from Mason Cole, MA Politics and Contemporary History student and Rebecca Lindsay, BA Philosophy and Spanish student, who are both volunteering as Sustainability Champion Assistants (SCA’s), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

Introduction to King’s Energy

Welcome to King’s Energy Department! We’re excited to be working alongside the Sustainability Team to make King’s a more environmentally-friendly place. We have so many projects in the works – and much more to come – so keep your eyes peeled for updates.

Who are we?

Julie Allen is King’s Energy Manager. She manages the utilities budgets and contracts, and leads on delivering, updating and monitoring the University’s Carbon Management Plan. Julie’s been here since 2019, and previously worked as the energy manager at Nando’s. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a Nando’s Black Card (yet).

Angeliki Karydi is the Energy Management Coordinator at King’s. She joined in December 2019 after completing her MA in Corporate Sustainability in Radboud University. She supports Julie as part of the energy team and is responsible for energy data analysis and reporting.

My name is Mason and I’m an MA Politics and Contemporary History student at King’s. I want my time here to be progressive and that’s why I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to be a Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA) and help King’s to achieve its energy goals.

I am Rebecca, I’m a 2nd year student here at King’s and I study BA Philosophy and Spanish. I’m very passionate about combating the climate crisis, so I’m very excited to join the energy team as an SCA this semester.

What do we do?

It’s really important to us that King’s students are aware of the steps we’re taking to reach our carbon goals, as well as how they can make changes in their own lives to reduce their carbon footprint.

Rest assured we’re leading by example. Here are some of our recent achievements:

  • 100% of directly purchased electricity at King’s comes from renewable sources.
  • King’s surpassed the Higher Education Funding Council target of reducing emissions by 43% by 2020, instead reaching a 49% reduction.
  • We’ve been awarded £1.8 million by The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme to further fund efficient energy.
  • In 2019, the King’s Energy Cooperative won the KCLSU Environmental Impact Award for engaging students with sustainability and energy.
  • King’s aims to be net-zero carbon by 2025.

And much, much more. Over the coming weeks we’ll be posting lots of information on our various projects, and ways in which you can positively impact the planet.

How can I get involved?

We’d love to hear from you! Please email us at energy@kcl.ac.uk with suggestions or inquiries. Otherwise, be sure to subscribe to the King’s sustainability newsletter and follow them on Instagram – that’s where we’ll be!

COVID & the environment

This blog comes from Nicola Hogan, Sustainability Manager at King’s.

In all likelihood, the majority of people across the globehappily waved goodbye to 2020.  

It was the start of a new decade that filled us with excitement and anticipation as we, yet again, committed to a series of new year’s resolutions that would result in better versions of ourselves. 

We could never have anticipated that within 3 months we’d have succumbed to a global pandemic. Akin to a sci-fi storylinethe Covid-19 pandemic ended up being responsible for the deaths of over 2 million people worldwide. The spread of the virus was reported hourly across various news channels with updates from world leaders on their decisions as to how best to mitigate its spread. Face masks were mandatory inside of public spaces and people were asked to stay at home, only travelling if absolutely necessary. Social distancing became the norm.  

When it was reported that the source of this pandemic likely originated from the wet markets of China, exposing the capture and export of exotic animals for human consumption, we were horrified. Seeing animals that have no place in western society, let alone as a food source, being taken from their habitats, our commitment to stop the trafficking of exotic animals and the destruction of their ecosystems seemed to galvanise. Images of caged pangolins and bats made us more aware of the urgency of protecting exotic wildlife and of their natural habitats. 

But was this enough to make us boycott these industries? Did the cause of the pandemic make us think about what and how we are consuming

Not being able to shop on the high street simply made us switch to shopping online. Amazon and eBay  reported an increase of sales by an average of 33 % since March 2020 – as everything from face masks to hand sanitiser was sold by the billions. But it wasn’t just COVID related products that were being bought online. Wcompensated and comforted ourselves during these strange times by purchasing non-essential everyday items too. 

Bath salts and board games topped the list as did puzzles and Nintendo switches as we entertain ourselves while also indulging in much needed self-care – but are we conveniently forgetting to care for the planet at the same time? 

year later there is light at the end of the tunnel. A vaccine has been found and its rollout across the world has started 

So what will life, post pandemic, look like? Are we likely to revert to our prelockdown consumer habits as the message from mother nature is forgotten? Or will we, after having been forced into new ways of livingno longer take for granted our basic freedoms? 

Zoom meetings have replaced travelling for work but experts in the travel and hospitality industry have predicted that more personal trips will be taken in 2021/22 to make up for the cancelled holidays of 2020. 

It is at this pointthe first month of a new year that we should ask ourselves the following questions. 

(iHow did we get to this point in the first place and (ii) how do we make sure never return to it? 

(iii) What promises to live more sustainably did we make at the start of the lockdown and did we      
       keep them?   

(iv) Are our 2021 resolutions pandemic inspired or will it all depend on what the year brings? 

It is reported that the yearlong lockdown made us more reflective of our lives and what is important to us. For most people that came back to spending quality time with loved ones and asking ourselves what do we really want from our life’? For me, a fairer and more ethical world should be part of that ‘want’ – a planet whose climate isn’t changing because its being choked by CO2or who can no longer support its sea-life because it’s filled with pollutants. 

2020 will hopefully serve as a reminder for generations to come of what can happen when excessive pilfering of the natural environment is allowed to continue unchecked. Sustainability is a daily commitment to ourselves firstly and then to the planet. It’s a resolution worth keeping and a mindset worth nurturing.

References:

https://amp-theguardian-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/amp.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/25/coronavirus-nature-is-sending-us-a-message-says-un-environment-chief 

https://www.earthday.org/6-lessons-coronavirus-can-teach-us-about-climate-change/ 

https://www.edie.net/news/7/In-charts–How-coronvirus-has-impacted-sustainability-professionals/ 

https://time.com/5808809/coronavirus-climate-action/ 

Join the King’s Climate Action Network

Recognising the urgency of the climate emergency, King’s set the ambitious target to be net zero carbon by 2025 in March 2017The university has made significant progress on reducing emissions so far, reducing total carbon emissions by 41% since 2005-06. This year, we are launching the King’s Climate Action Network (King’s CAN) to develop a strategy that will take us to net zero carbon 

An image of solar panels at King's, with the text "Join the King's Climate Action Network"

King’s CAN will be an open, interdisciplinary forum to bring together the skills and energy from across King’s to take climate action. The network will tackle a wide range of impact areas, including our university operations, procurement, travel, research and education.  

The aim of the network is to propose solutions to the climate crisis by minimising our negative impacts, and maximising the positive impact we can have in our role as a university. 

We are now looking for staff and students to join the King’s Climate Action Network and help us lead King’s to be net zero carbon by 2025. There will be regular events throughout the year, and you can get involved in one or more of the groups below, each looking at a different aspect of carbon and climate change: 

  • Zero carbon estate (energy and water use, sustainable construction) 
  • Procurement and waste (purchasing policies and data, waste management) 
  • Travel (flights, business travel and commuting) 
  • Responsible investment (divestment from fossil fuels, investment in socially responsible funds) 
  • Students & Education (formal and informal education on climate change and sustainability) 
  • Community & Engagement (creating a positive impact as part of our net zero carbon target) 
  • Zero carbon research  

Groups will be made up of staff, students, and members of the wider King’s community such as alumni, partner institutions and local community members. We hope that through this network, we can build meaningful positive change at King’s, and share our strategy and findings to benefit our wider community.  

We have now also opened applications for the King’s Climate Action Team, a volunteering opportunity for students who would like to get involved in the running of the network. As a volunteer, you will be supporting the Sustainability Team in running network events and sub-groups, gaining leadership skill and experience of carbon management in institutions like King’s. Applications are open until Friday, 9th October. You can find out more here. 

The official launch will take place online on the 16th October. If you would like to find out more, please contact sustainability@kcl.ac.uk or visit the sustainability webpagesTo join the network, please register your interest here. 

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