Category: UN Sustainable Development Goals (Page 2 of 8)

King’s Energy: Smart homes – how energy-saving are they?

This guest blog comes from Mason Cole, MA Politics and Contemporary History student and Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

I’m sure many of you have seen adverts or promotions for some form of “smart home” technology. They are becoming increasingly popular and in-demand, but is this just because they seem like a cool idea? Or do they actually save energy? We’ve done the research for you, so read on and find out!

What are smart homes?

Simply put, smart homes are residences that use internet-connected devices to enable the remote monitoring and management of appliances and systems, such as lighting and heating. Many new homes are being built with the capacity for them to become smart homes, while older homes can be retrospectively fitted with the right technology.

What makes them “smart”?

Smart homes allow you to monitor and control anything in your home which is linked to your WiFi. That may sound like you’re the smart one there, but smart homes do have some features which make them truly intelligent. For example, using sensors, they can tell when somebody is in a home or a room and control the lights or heating accordingly. They can also track your behavioural patterns to identify the perfect amounts of water or energy for certain activities. Based on these patterns, many smart homes will also offer you recommendations on saving energy every day. That’s truly smart.

Can they help save energy?

The simple answer is yes, but it depends on the individual. A smart home can only provide information and optimise with the tools at its disposal. It is up to the homeowner to give it more tools to use and a better environment to use them in. Put simply, if your water meter is not linked to your smart home, then it will have no impact on your water usage. It can take time to get everything hooked up and become comfortable with all the features.

What can be done to help my smart home?

Several things can be done to make homes more suitable for smart home technology, so these may well be worth looking out for when it comes to investing in your first home:

  • Insulation – A properly insulated home will make heating and cooling much easier and more energy-efficient, thereby making life much easier for a smart home.
  • LED bulbs – As we mention most weeks on this blog, LEDs use much less energy than most other types of lightbulbs. They are also extremely durable and can be easily connected to smart homes.
  • Solar panels – An expensive investment, we know. However, this one shows that while you can save energy, if your energy is still sourced from fossil fuels, for example, then the environmental benefits are minimal. Solar panels will also reduce reliance on grid electricity, and even more so if you also invest in a home battery which will retain and store any excess energy. So, if you are thinking of purchasing a smart home, think long-term and make sure your home is ready before making that investment.

So, there you have it, smart homes have the potential to be extremely effective in terms of saving energy, but much of that depends on how you use and complement it. If you have seen them advertised and dream of having one in your future home, then don’t worry; they can be really great for the planet, but you should ensure the correct infrastructure is in place before taking the plunge.

As always, if you have any further questions or want to get involved with King’s Energy, get in touch!

Refugee Week 2021 – Climate Refugees  

This blog comes from Bethan Spacey, Sustainability Engagement Assistant and BA English student. 

June 14th – June 20th is Refugee Week. This is a week that occurs annually and throughout the UK to increases awareness of the plight of refugees and the socio-political shifts that incite displacement and inspire action to help people and change systems that hinder those who have been forced to flee their homes.   

This year’s theme is ‘We Cannot Walk Alone,’ inspired by the Martin Luther King quote, “They have come to realise that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom… We cannot walk alone.” It is a theme intended to promote togetherness, with the official website proposing it as “an invitation to extend your hand to someone new”.   

The last century has seen a series of refugee crises: starting with World War II and continuing with conflicts like the Somali Civil War, the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, the Syrian Civil War, and sadly, numerous more. The UNHCR estimates that there are approximately 80 million refugees globally: that’s the equivalent of London’s entire population almost nine times. Some of the predominant factors forcing people to leave their country are persecution, war and violation of human rights.   

Unfortunately, there are even darker days on the horizon, with the worst refugee crisis we have ever seen being anticipated. Except for this time, it is not because of any war or conflict; it is because of the climate crisis.   

Experts estimate a potential 1 billion refugees by 2050, with the predominant reason shifting to the climate crisis. A staggering figure, accounting for 13% of the world’s current population. What’s more, the individuals and groups dislocated by this environmental disaster may not receive the same benefits and legal perks (that are already lacking) that refugees receive because they will not qualify as ‘legal refugees’ under current Refugee Law. This calls for a rapid expansion of the definition of refugees, with concrete legislative follow-up.  

This is not a crisis that will occur in the decades to come, but one that has already started. Between 2008 and 2016, over 20 million people per year were forced from their homes by extreme weather, such as wildfires. There are already climate refugees. There are entire countries already at risk of rising sea levels; in 2014, the President of Kiribati, an independent island in the Pacific Ocean, bought up land in Fiji in fear of the island’s submersion. Farmers in Kenya are struggling to maintain their livelihoods with volatile climate stressors, such as droughts and floods, destroying crops and killing livestock. It is an issue that disproportionately affects marginalised groups of people. 80% of people presently displaced by the climate crisis are women, and people of colour are most likely to be exposed to toxic levels of pollution and unclean water. As much as what we all have in common is the Earth, we are not in the same boat. We are in the same ocean, perhaps, but some are in cruise ships and others in splintered paddle boats.  

Acknowledging the disparities between different groups of people is key in our process of “extending a hand”. We may only practice effective altruism and successful activism after first educating ourselves on the facts and nuances of the issue. We cannot address social justice issues without addressing the climate crisis. We cannot address the climate crisis without addressing social justice issues.  

Whilst the message of community is critical, ‘We Cannot Walk Alone’ enters a whole new context when the catastrophe that looms calls not only for the unity of people but also living in respect of and in harmony with nature; we cannot walk at all without the oceans and the rainforests – our collective lungs. Our freedom is, as King expanded, inextricably linked, in this case, to the freedom of the planet: freedom from resource depletion, soaring fossil fuel emissions, and unsustainable levels of destruction. It is these things that have caused the climate crisis, and it is these things that are exacerbating the refugee crisis. Where this is not an equal fight, it is also not one of equal blame; whilst the local and generational residents of the global south remain victims of the consequences, the global north has been responsible for 92% of all emissions since 1850and just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of all emissions. Systemic change is pivotal in addressing both crises, and we will not achieve our goal without it.   

However, yes, we cannot walk alone. We must lend a hand to one another and foster our interconnected humanity. We must also lend a hand to nature: perhaps by getting our hands dirty and participating in regenerative agriculture, or perhaps by litter-picking on the beach. Overall, this year’s Refugee Week calls for the celebration of the synergy that is the foundation of life on Earth and the correlative actions and reactions of people and the planet.  

 

#TakeAction this Refugee Week by seeking out initiatives near you. KCL STAR is a student-led society at King’s, which hosts several voluntary projects. You can also get involved at King’s by supporting King’s Sanctuary Programme and King’s refugee sponsorship scheme

 

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.

Climate change, sustainability and narratives

“The truth about stories is that’s all we are.” (Thomas King, 2003)

“Data and factual information are crucial, but not enough to bring down the walls of numbness and indifference, to help us empathise with people outside our tribes. We need emotional connections. But more than that, just as we need sisterhood against patriarchy, we need storyhood against bigotry.” (Elif Shafak, 2020)

Climate change is often constructed as a purely physical phenomenon defined through metrics and targets, and requiring that we all reduce our emissions and limit global temperature rise. While understanding the physical processes of climate change is undeniably crucial, in the 60+ years we’ve been measuring atmospheric CO2 levels inaction has remained the norm, and many people continue to resist caring about an abstract and intangible phenomenon (particularly those who remain largely un-impacted by climate change). Indeed, these framings simplify complex realities by telling only half the story: climate change has both physical realities and cultural meanings and, to better engage people around this issue, we need to reframe it as such.

Climate change is an issue through which a plethora of “values, discourses and imaginaries are being refracted” (Mahony and Hulme, 2016: 395). Not only is it a manifestation of patterns of development and particular socio-environmental relations, but how we respond to the crisis is intimately linked to perceptions, understandings and ideologies. It is a social justice issue, linked to questions of gender, race, inequality, power and health (and the list goes on). It is therefore critical that we ask who creates mainstream knowledge (and by extension, who does not) and “what sorts of realities they aim to engender” (Castree, 2005: xxi). As with many crises, the climate crisis is destabilising the status quo and creating space for transformation and we must harness it as an entry point to understand and address this host of implications.

These ideas have long been echoed by activists, communities and social scientists around the world. Climate researcher Mike Hulme (2020: 311) argues that climate change “governance […] emerges best when rooted in larger and thicker stories about human [experiences].” Indeed, stories have the power to convey culture, history, values and emotions, and forge connections between people. Through storytelling, we have an opportunity to engage in wider and deeper conversations, to make sense of and reconcile differences, and to “[search] out meaning in a conflicted and contradictory world” (Cronon, 1992: 1375). Stories can also “counterpoint […] totalising, ‘grand’ narratives” (Cameron, 2012a: 580) and “re-situate hegemonic habits of mind” (Magrane, 2018: 167). In this sense, stories offer agency. Finally, as put by climate activist Alice Aedy, “storytelling can […] paint a picture of a better world [and] we have to visualise the world that we’re moving towards.”

Let us use this ‘wicked problem’ as an opportunity to question how we relate to each other and how we relate to the natural world, to consider which stories we choose to tell, as well as to recognise the stories of others and what we can learn from them.

Building upon these ideas, we will be sharing  ‘Sustainability Stories’, highlighting the work and passion of individuals from across the King’s community. If you are passionate about any aspect of sustainability and would like to share your story, get in touch with us.

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

 

King’s Energy: Changing your energy supplier – What do you need to consider?

This guest blog comes from Mason Cole, MA Politics and Contemporary History student and Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

If you’ve stayed tuned to our blog over the past few weeks, you will have seen that changing supplier is much easier than people think! It’s approaching that time when you will be signing leases and moving into your homes for the next academic year, so let’s take some energy-related weight off of your shoulders.

How do I change supplier?

Changing supplier is easy. All you will need is your postcode, your last energy bill and about 10 minutes of your time. We recommend using a price comparison website such as U Switch or MoneySuperMarket to make sure you have the full range of options and filters available to you. Once you have chosen a new tariff, the new company will communicate with your old one to ensure that you don’t miss out on any energy and to make the changeover as smooth as possible. This usually takes up to 21 days.

What should I consider?

Cost – This goes without saying. Most people switch because they can save money, and sometimes it can be hundreds of pounds per year, so always keep your options open.

Customer reviews – What better way to know what people actually think of a company than to read their reviews? People like you or I have been in this position before and are well placed to advise us of their switching experience.

Exit penalty – If you are on a fixed contract there may be a penalty for breaking this early. However, the fee is usually waived if you switch a month or so before the end. In any case, it’s better to check with your existing company to see how this might apply.

Energy source – Of course! Here at King’s Energy, we believe we all have a responsibility to safeguard our planet by using renewable energy as much as possible. With most price comparison sites you can have this as a filter for simplicity, but you can also ask any energy company for the source of their energy. It should be noted that renewable energy suppliers are not always as expensive as you would think, so it is always worth checking.

Greenwashing – Renewable energy is becoming more fashionable but unfortunately, some companies want the benefits without the necessary investment. Be careful of “greenwashing,” where companies may claim to be environmentally motivated, but their energy doesn’t match these claims. Most genuine renewable energy companies have REGO (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin) certificates.

Summary

At King’s Energy of course we want you to save money, but we also want to encourage everyone to do their part for the planet by considering renewable sources of energy. The most sustainable energy companies in the UK are GEUK, Ecotricity and Octopus UK. Need more information? No problem, stay tuned to our blogs for more details on which energy companies you should consider when you switch.

As always, if you have any further questions or want to get involved with King’s Energy, get in touch!

Mental health and sustainability – what’s the link?

Trigger warning – this blog discusses mental health and suicide.  

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16th May 2021) and we’d like to use this opportunity to discuss some of the ways mental health and sustainability intersect.

#1 SDG 3 – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all 

 One of Sustainable Development Goal Three’s (SDG 3) targets is to “reduce by one-third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being”. Awareness of the importance of addressing mental health has increased in recent years, and rightly so: depression represents one of the leading causes of disability, suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst 15-29-year-olds, and people with severe mental health conditions are at risk of premature death due to preventable physical conditions (WHO, 2021). Additionally, individuals with mental health conditions may face stigma, discrimination and human rights violations. 

While SDG 3 focuses explicitly on mental health, achieving this target requires progress across all 17 SDGs. Mental health and wellbeing are intricately linked to challenges such as poverty, inequality, work, education, gender, infrastructure, air pollution, access to quality green spaces, peace etc.  Not only do these factors increase the risk of poor mental health, but they also impact the accessibility and quality of mental health services. 

One example is emergency contexts, including natural disasters, conflict and forced migrationduring which many individuals will face temporary distress. In the longer term, the prevalence of common mental disorders generally doubles in a humanitarian crisis due to increased poverty, lack of security, separation from family, community and home, and trauma. Overall, it has been estimated that 1 in 5 people living in an area affected by conflict will have a common mental health condition. Finally, it is important to note that climate change is expected to exacerbate many of these issues, thus causing greater and wider distress, which leads us to our next topic… 

#2 Climate change and mental health 

When you think about climate change, mental health might not be the first thing that comes to mind. We often discuss climate change on a global scale, in terms of physical processes and tangible, measurable impacts. However, it both, directly and indirectly, impacts individuals’ and communities’ mental health and psychological well-being. 

Indeed, climate change and its associated impacts (rising sea levels, changing temperatures, extreme weather patterns, wildfires, droughts, food and water insecurity, etc.) put at risk a  range of phenomena that people and communities value and rely on in their daily lives, both material and non-material, from homes, landscapes and ecosystems to cultural traditions, livelihoods, identities and social cohesion… From forced displacement to gradual changes in an environment, feelings of loss – loss of place, loss of identity, decreased sense of self – can arise. And, as mentioned above, these impacts are more acutely felt in communities and populations where climate change intersects with pre-existing health conditions, socioeconomic inequities and unequal power dynamics. 

#3 The rise of eco-anxiety  

 As with many crises, the climate crisis is causing (justifiably) strong emotional responses, in people and communities around the world. Amongst inspiration and hope for change, feelings of anger, hopelessness, guilt and fear are common and natural. 

Eco-anxiety refers to the stress caused by “watching the slow and seemingly irrevocable impacts of climate change unfold” or the “feelings of helplessness, anger, […] panic and guilt toward the climate and ecological crisis”. Force of Nature has been studying the occurrence of eco-anxiety amongst youth globally. They found that amongst 500 respondents, over 70% had experienced feelings of hopelessness in the face of climate change. 

Circling back to this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week’s theme of Nature, it is important to recognize the interconnectedness between the health of our minds, bodies and planet. Indeed, sustainability refers not only to environmental sustainability but also to social sustainability.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed by the immensity of the climate crisis, be kind to yourself, and connect with your loved ones and your community. However, if symptoms of anxiety are interfering with your ability to function well and feel good,  we encourage you to seek professional help. Here are some ways you can find support at King’s: KCLSU’s wellbeing eventsPositive PeersCounselling and Mental Health supportBlack Students TalkOut-of-hours counselling. You can also find resources here and here

Some further reading on the topic

Tackling social inequalities to reduce mental health problems: How everyone can flourish equally

Mental Health and our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance 

The case for systems thinking about climate change and mental health 

Caring for the environment helps to care for your mental health 

Mental health and the environment 

Mental health and wellbeing in the Sustainable Development Goals 

The Lancet Commission on global mental health and sustainable development 

This Must Be the Place: Underrepresentation of Identity and Meaning in Climate Change DecisionMaking

Place identity and climate change adaptation: a synthesis and framework for understanding

“From this place and of this place:” Climate change, sense of place, and health in Nunatsiavut, Canada

Examining relationships between climate change and mental health in the Circumpolar North 

 

King’s Energy: LED light bulbs – What are they and why is King’s switching to them?

This guest blog comes from Mason Cole, MA Politics and Contemporary History student and Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

 

The LED, or Light Emitting Diode, is a relatively new form of lighting that works through an electrical current passing through a microchip, illuminating the diode, and the result is visible light. To prevent performance issues, the heat LEDs produce is absorbed into a heat sink. No doubt you will have heard plenty about LEDs, not least through our previous blog posts, but why is it so important that we change all King’s lighting to LED?

The advantages of LEDs

First, in terms of practicality, LEDs produce light up to 90% more efficiently than incandescent bulbs. LEDs are ‘directional’ sources, meaning they concentrate light in a specific direction, unlike incandescent bulbs which emit both light and heat in all directions.

Next, the lifetime of an LED gives it a huge advantage over its market counterparts. Where the lifetime of a CFL or incandescent bulb is adjudged to be when it is “burnt out,” LEDs do not burn out. Instead, they experience something called “lumen depreciation,” whereby their brightness dims slowly over time. Therefore, their lifetime is a prediction of when they will be 30% less bright than when you purchased them.

Now to the technical part, but don’t worry I’ll keep it simple for now. LEDs are much brighter than the other options on the market. Some LEDs can reach 90+ in the Colour Rendering Index (more on that later). In addition, you can also choose which colour you would like and sometimes you can even change colour!

Last but not least, LEDs are much more energy-efficient than any alternative on the market. Not only do they last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs, meaning you can minimise both production and waste, they also use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs. They are more expensive initially, but they pay for themselves many times over in savings over their lifetime. It’s no wonder then that King’s are trying to modernise our light sources by switching to LED across all facilities.

CRI & Colour Temperature

If you are considering investing in LEDs, you may come across the acronym CRI (Colour Rendering Index) and hear about colour temperature. First, the CRI refers to the quality of the light. It is judged out of 100, with 100 representing sunlight. Think of it this way, if you have a light with about 70 CRI it may simply reflect off your lecturer’s bald head. If you had a light of 90+, you’d be able to see every liver spot and mole – scary stuff!

Now, in lighting, when we talk about colour temperature we do not mean if a light is hot or not. Instead, we refer to the colour of the light, measured in Kelvins. Usually, you can get LEDs that range from 3000K (warm, yellowish light) to 6000K (cool, white light) but you can also get RGB (Red-Green-Blue) where you can change colours at will!

What is King’s doing?

Here at King’s we’ve set some ambitious energy targets and switching to LED is one way we can become more energy efficient. We’ve already begun the switch, but there’s still a long way to go, and here’s where we could use your help. If you notice any old incandescent bulbs anywhere around campus please reach out to let us know. You never know when one may have slipped through the net.

As always, if you have any further questions or want to get involved with King’s Energy, get in touch!

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.

 

Sustainable Development Goal 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy

This guest blog comes from Mason Cole, MA Politics and Contemporary History student and Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

In 2015, the United Nations released 17 ‘Sustainable Development Goals‘ (SDGs). These 17 interlinked goals seek to guide us in creating a fairer and more sustainable world for all by 2030. Each goal outlines the current situation, sub-goals and targets, as well as indicators for measurement. We focus here on goal number 7: ‘Affordable and Clean Energy.’

SDG 7 – what is it? 
SDG 7 focuses on ‘ensur[ing] access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all’. The goal’s three ‘outcome targets’ include ‘universal access to modern energy,’ ‘increas[ing] the global percentage of renewable energy’ and ‘doubling the improvement in energy efficiency’ (SDGs, 2021). In other words, we must ensure access to electricity to all, while increasing the share of renewable energy in our global energy usage.

The UN has identified that 789 million people around the world have no access to electricity, which means they are most likely having to use alternative and, often, unsustainable sources to heat their homes and cook their food. It is vital that when these people gain access to electricity, it is sustainably sourced and renewable electricity. International cooperation is required to make this a reality. Indeed, as of 2017, only 17% of total energy consumption was derived from renewable sources, with the energy efficiency improvement rate falling below the UN’s 3% target.

Achieving global goal 7 will have an impact far beyond electricity usage. It is closely related to SDG 13, ‘Climate change mitigation,’ as well as many other goals, including poverty eradication (SDG 1), health (SDG 3), gender equality (SDG 5), transport (SDG 9), sustainable cities (SDG 11), etc.

What has the UK done?
As a result of the coronavirus, this past year has seen some important milestones in the UK’s journey towards increasing renewable energy. In 2020, renewable energy overtook fossil fuels as the largest source of UK electricity. More recently, over Easter weekend, figures suggest that 80% of UK energy consumption came from low-carbon energy sources and there was no coal generation on the grid. 39% of this figure is accounted for by wind power and 21% by solar, marking an improvement from the fossil fuel-heavy consumption of recent years.

While these figures occurred on a Bank Holiday and during lockdowns, these achievements are commendable and demonstrate that positive change is possible.

What has King’s done?
Since 2017, all electricity directly purchased by King’s has come from 100% UK wind energy and since signing a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) in 2019,  20% of our purchased electricity comes from PPA wind farms. In addition to this, we have solar panels at the Cicely Saunders Institute, Great Dover Street Apartments and Champion Hill, as well as a combined heat and power system and a ground source heat pump at Denmark Hill. Also, as you already know from our previous posts (hint, hint), we are in the process of switching all light bulbs to LEDs. Finally, as of the start of 2021, King’s has fully divested from all fossil fuels, nearly two years ahead of schedule.

What can you do?
While individual action is not the silver bullet solution, each of us can play a role in achieving SDG 7. You can switch the bulbs in your house to LEDs when they next need changing in order to reduce consumption and waste. We also recommend checking with your energy provider for the sources of your electricity. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can both switch to cheaper, fairer and more environmentally-friendly energy, check out the Citizens UK Fair Energy Campaign, as well as how student group King’s 4 Change is supporting the campaign at King’s. Finally, in a previous blog post, we outlined some easy and accessible ways to save energy at home and there’s more on the way!

As always, if you have any further questions or want to get involved with King’s Energy, get in touch!

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