Tag: Energy saving

Champion Hill win Student Switch Off!

Every year, King’s runs the NUS Student Switch Off competition in its halls of residence. The aim of the competition is to encourage students to save energy. We started the campaign in autumn with visits to every hall, and NUS continued it throughout the year with photo competitions, quizzes and lots of prizes.

At the end of each year, the hall that saved the most energy compared to the previous year wins a delivery of Ben & Jerry’s for their hall. This year, we upped the difficulty and added recycling scores to the mix. So on top of making sure they were energy-efficient, students had to take care with what they put in which bin.

This year, Champion Hill Residence were the lucky winners. They came second in the energy-saving ranking, but due to their great recycling performance they managed to take the overall trophy.

So on a sunny day last week, we headed down to reward Champion Hill residents for their effort. In total, we handed out 400 tubs of Ben & Jerry’s (as well as some vegan soy ice cream) to students! With exam period in full swing, this was a well-deserved break for many residents. See for yourself:

400 tubs of ice cream, ready to be handed out

400 tubs of ice cream, ready to be handed out

Signs at reception to direct students to our giveaway

Signs at reception to direct students to our giveaway

Ice cream time!

Ice cream time!

A sunny day during exam period was the perfect time for an ice cream giveaway/break

A sunny day during exam period was the perfect time for an ice cream giveaway/break

In addition to winning the Student Switch Off, Champion Hill also has a great range of sustainability initiatives. We have previously featured the Champion Hill Wormery on our blog, which exists in addition to composting bins. The courtyard also has a pond and a plot for a planned herb garden. Finally, Champion Hill also has a Combined Heat and Power Plant (CHP) and solar PV panels on the roof, making sure the energy used in the halls comes from more sustainable sources!

SPA takes itself to task on sustainability

Laura Westwood SPAThis week’s guest blog comes courtesy of Laura Westwood. Laura is an Internal Auditor within the Directorate of Strategy, Planning & Assurance.

(The views presented do not necessarily reflect those of King’s Sustainability.)


The last couple of months have seen a proliferation of posters and a new recycling bin in the Directorate of Strategy, Planning & Assurance.  Handily located at the tea point, the new bin makes each coffee break an unavoidable opportunity to do our bit – and we’ve additionally committed to using only eco-friendly coffee pods.

Before the bin arrived, we had to walk to the kitchen across the corridor to recycle waste.  Hardly an onerous task, I admit, but when one lunches al desko on rainy days, absent-mindedly favouring the nearest receptacle can become a habit.  I have rescued several stray banana skins from the floor under my desk this week, as I habituate to our personal bin ‘cull’!

When our Directorate Sustainability Champion, Sian, came to the Internal Audit team meeting, the information she shared with us showed that some of the choices we make with good intentions may in fact be ill-informed.  I had been convinced that rinsing my cup under the tap was preferable to leaving it in the dishwasher, but Sian explained that if we avoid using sinks and run one dishwasher cycle per day, our energy efficiency will improve.

My personal good news story is that, confronted with the information on one of our new office posters that King’s produces ten tons of waste each day, I logged into Papercut for the first time and resolved to curtail my printing activities.  I find it much easier to absorb information when I read it on paper, but I’ve made a concerted effort.  My first zero-printing week occurred this month, and I hope for many more.

The next step for the Strategy, Planning & Assurance sustainability team is to advance our ideas for contributing to the local community.  Talks are underway with local organisations to build on the success of previous years’ clothing collections by welcoming homeless guests for a hearty meal served by King’s staff and students.   New and nearly new clothing and accessories are planned to be collected and displayed in ‘retail’ style, so that guests can browse at leisure and select pieces to take away.

All in all, the drive for sustainability in SPA has pushed me to fully accept my duty to demonstrate sustainable behaviours at work.  However insignificant our individual ‘oops’ moments may seem amongst an 8000-strong staff population, they add up to serious environmental impact.  I can no longer gloss over my environmental footprint, because with Sian’s help, it has been laid out in front of me – and I’m thankful for that.

Laura Westwood is an Internal Auditor within the Directorate of Strategy, Planning & Assurance. 

King’s hosts global sustainability workshop

Last week saw King’s College London host members of the Global Consortium for Sustainability Outcomes (GCSO).

The GCSO is an organisation made up of 11 world-leading universities, including King’s, aiming to create solutions to global sustainability problems through research, development and capacity building. Combatting climate change and working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals requires innovative new solutions, and universities are often where these solutions are made – by academics and students alike. While each university might be able to drive change locally on its own, coming together to simultaneously implement solutions across the world can take these ideas to the next level.

The GCSO Network of universities

The GCSO Network of universities (Source: GCSO website)

King’s is a founding member of the GCSO and represented through Chris Mottershead, Vice Principal (Research and Innovation) and member of the College Council. This demonstrates the University’s commitment to sustainability, not only through improvement of day-to-day operations, but also at a senior strategic level.

Within the GCSO, several topic groups were set up to develop projects. The group that met at King’s last week is aimed at sustainability solutions related to energy, water and waste, that can be scaled from university campuses to the wider urban and rural environments. Representatives of the following universities were present:

The aim of the three-day workshop was to agree on their first joint project. With each of the universities presenting their own project proposal, the workshop showed the variety of innovative sustainability solutions discussed around the globe.

GCSOMedium

The attendees of the GCSO workshop

Impressed with the quality of all proposals, the attendees of the workshop decided to combine aspects of each to develop a new, joint project – a toolkit to transform university campuses into ‘living labs’. In these living labs, academics, communities and other stakeholders come together to test new ideas and technologies. If the test proves to be successful, it can be replicated elsewhere. Any changes within the ‘living lab’ campuses will be monitored and evaluated using quantitative aand qualitative measures developed at the GCSO institutions. This way, universities can ensure that operations and users of buildings do not experience any negative impacts as a result of the “experiment”.

King’s has agreed to be one of several test sites for the first GCSO project, exploring energy-savings around hot water. If successful, this project could save 3-4% of the university’s annual CO₂ emissions, bringing King’s closer to its 43% reduction by 2020 target. Details on what exactly students and staff can expect from the project will be announced at a later stage, so look out for further information!

UNSDG #17

The GCSO links to SDG 11, 12 and 17

With the first one-year pilot project due to kick off in the next few months, we are hoping that this global collaboration will continue to deliver innovative solutions over the coming years. The workshop saw so many exciting proposals to improve sustainability, it is without doubt that this first GCSO project will not remain the only one.

More information on the GCSO can be found on the organisations website.

The GCSO projects links to UN Sustainable Development Goals 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). More on the Sustainable Development Goals here

End of term – time to switch off!

The first term is now officially over! But before you head home for your holidays, please remember to turn off all non-essential equipment at the plug – think computers (& monitors), decorative lights, kettles and microwaves. If you can, also consider emptying your fridge and turning it off while you are away (you can always use up food by throwing a pre-holidays party!).

By doing this, you will help King’s achieve its goal of a 43% reduction in energy consumption by 2020, as well as support the Paris Pledge for Action to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

Read more about what to consider when leaving King’s here.

And if you need any extra motivation – this puppy really wants you to switch off anything you don’t need.

Switch-off-this-Christmas400x400

Image by @estateskings

To find out about which King’s buildings and libraries will be open outside of term, please visit the Estates & Facilities internal webpages.

Four tips for a more sustainable Christmas

Simg_1451With the end of term fast approaching, Christmas is now just over two weeks away! Once we add up all the presents, wrapping paper, cards, food, trees and lights, Christmas can often have a significant impact on the environment. By taking small actions that don’t require a lot of effort, we can all reduce this negative impact without missing out on the Christmas spirit! Here are our top tips to make your Christmas holidays more sustainable:

 1. Christmas Trees

It’s difficult to talk about Christmas without talking about Christmas trees. You might notice a heated debate about what is more sustainable: a real Christmas tree, or an artificial one. Artificial trees certainly have benefits, the main one being that they can be re-used for many years. Reuse is the key here: a study claimed that artificial trees should be reused for 20 years to be ‘greener’ than buying a real tree every year.

cone

But not all real trees are made equal: Make sure yours is grown using sustainable practices. One way of doing this is checking whether your seller is part of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association. Or consider looking for an organic tree. If you want a real tree that you can reuse, you could get a pot-grown tree, which will live for many years – you can even rent them! After taking down your tree, remember to check with your local council how you can recycle the tree to make sure it does not end up in landfill.

And if you want to see what a Christmas tree farm looks like, The Guardian recently published a photo essay following the life of a Christmas tree!

 2. Gifts that matter

If you are tired of buying gifts that might end up in a dark corner of the house by New Year’s Eve, why not try to do something a bit different? Gifting an experience is a great way of avoiding waste, and there is something out there for everyone. Struggling to find a present for that one friend who only drinks single-batch coffee and complains about coffee chains? Many independent London cafés offer classes on how to make the perfect cup of coffee at home. FAN2011806Someone in need of de-stressing after December deadlines – or before January exams? Why not book a pampering session for them (extra points if your salon of choice uses organic products)! You could also cook a great meal for someone, or spend time doing something they love with them – in our hectic world, our time is often one of the most valuable things we can give.

For a gift that makes a difference, you could also consider giving to charity in someone’s name. After we have all been watching Planet Earth II for the last few weeks, adopting/sponsoring an endangered species seems like an obvious option (no baby iguanas or racer snakes, but plenty of big cats, gorillas and penguins).

 3. It’s what’s on the outside that counts

If you do have a physical gift to wrap, consider ditching non-recyclable shiny wrapping paper for more environmentally-friendly options. This can be wrapping paper made from recycled materials, a box you can re-use, or something homemade. present with red ribbon and card.Richard, one of our team members, collects pictures from newspapers and magazines in the weeks leading up to Christmas to create his own personalised wrapping paper. Even if you are not the most talented crafter out there, websites like Pinterest have hundreds of ideas for DIY gift wrap (if it does end up looking bad – #PinterestFail will make you feel better, we promise).

 4. Switching off at King’s

Before you leave King’s for your well-deserved Christmas holidays, remember that you can help the environment by switching off any non-essential equipment. This can make a huge difference – last year, King’s used 70% less electricity on Christmas Day than it did just one week earlier. If you are a student in residences, you can make a big contribution to this. At Great Dover Street Apartments alone, students moving out and switching off at the end of term meant that electricity use dropped by 55% in just one week!

_DSC0090This year, we would like everyone to keep up the good work, and try to see if there is anything else that can be switched off over the holidays. Our top tip is to turn appliances off at the plug to ensure they are not wasting energy. Even when they are switched off, some devices will continue to use electricity while they are plugged in, known as ‘vampire power’. A common culprit are mobile phone chargers – they will continue to use energy when plugged in, even if there is no phone connected to them.

We hope these tips give you some inspiration on how to make Christmas more sustainable! What are your top tips to cut down on waste and help the environment over the festive period?

Welcome back – a new year and new term

Welcome back to students and staff – we hope you have had a happy and sustainable holidays!

We are pleased to share with you that King’s reduced our electricity consumption by 43 per cent and gas by 24 per cent compared to normal December usage. The Sustainability Team would like to thank you for all reducing our electricity and gas consumption over the winter break. This resulted in savings of £73,000 and 338 tonnes of CO2. We managed to improve by 24 per cent against the winter break of 2012/13. This is a fantastic achievement but there is still room for improvement.

University-wide efforts are helping us to achieve our energy and carbon reduction targets. Shutting down unnecessary items, including lab equipment, lighting and PCs wherever possible led to this result. This builds on the success of the Blackout project in late 2014. This year we will be aiming to achieve similar savings every holiday, weekend and evening when non-essential equipment, such as lights and computers, are not needed.

Looking forward to the term ahead we have a jam-packed schedule. The Sustainability Champions project is set to officially launch next week, swiftly followed by Green Week, and Fairtrade fortnight. We are looking for enthusiastic people who would like to be involved at driving sustainability at King’s and helping with any of the former mentioned projects.

Fairtrade fortnight is especially important; we will be celebrating 20 years of Fairtrade, King’s is aiming to gain accreditation for being a Fairtrade university. The fortnight will be focusing on core commodities – cocoa, sugar and tea. This is the chance to take action to ensure marginalised farmers around the world have decent working conditions and are paid a fair price for their produce. Watch this space for the full Fairtrade fortnight schedule.

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