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Why we care about improving our sustainability - Part 2

16 JULY 2021 - MAYA - STUDENT LIFE

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With the help of Justine Oakes our sustainability officer, we were able to answer the question ‘why do we care about sustainability?’ in part one of the blogs: ‘Why we care about sustainability…’. Now we move on and understand what the University of Suffolk is doing to help sustainable development and what we have done. Take a moment now to read this blog, celebrate our achievements so far and get inspired by what is to come.

Once again, I will let Justine take over to explore the goals and achievements of the University of Suffolk…

So, what have we accomplished so far?

“We have recently come to the end of our 5-year Carbon Plan, which sought to reduce our Scope 1 & 2 carbon emissions by 43% and I am pleased to report that we have exceeded this target. However, as the campus infrastructure grows, so does the challenge ahead of us but we look towards achieving net zero. This year has also seen the extension of our ecological Living labs and we now have a newly planted wildflower meadow off New Street. Four EV car charging units have been installed on Rope Walk, along with an additional 20Mwp solar panels array on the library roof. The library has also received window and lighting upgrades making it significantly more energy efficient. So far, we have saved two tonnes of carbon since February which weighs the same as 20 baby elephants.

We have also collaborated with Connected Energy and Suffolk County Council on the installation of a battery storage facility that use old Renault van batteries to store electricity generated from solar power for use in the Hold. Enabling it to go utilise renewable energy off grid when the sun goes down. In the last two years we have additionally reissued our Biodiversity and Travel Plans which will take us through to 2024. The former is designed to ensure that campus biodiversity becomes an integral part of the University and wider regional habitat networks. Whilst the latter identifies aims to promote and support sustainable modes of travel choices and working within the local and national infrastructure constraints reduce single occupancy car reliance.

In April we were delighted to became the 18th University to sign the People and Planet fossil free declaration https://peopleandplanet.org/blog/2021-04-06/press-release-university-suffolk-permanently-excludes-fossil-fuel-investments and also joined the Ipswich Cycling and Walking Charter.”

Listening to all these achievements made me so hopeful but Justine was only speaking about the past, the future goals of UOS were even more inspiring…

“I am in the process of identifying building energy loads and forecasting anticipated uptick in utilities usage as the starting point for developing our next Carbon Plan to take us to 2030.  The plan is an essential document that will identify the budget requirements needed to decarbonise electricity and heating and set out a programme for infrastructure changes and the associated behavioural changes that will need to accompany it. Staying with utilities, we are also evaluating water conservation measures and looking to identify potential infrastructure adaptations to help us achieve reduced consumption and waste.

We are currently also scrutinising the sustainability design elements for the East Building and the Digitech Hub at Adastral Park and are in the process of producing a Minimum Standards Guide for future contract providers to ensure that we specify the best sustainable outcomes from all new builds and refurbishments from the outset.”

If you feel inspired by our accomplishments and future goals, check out our societies here Join a Society (uosunion.org). There are two main Student Union groups that focus on sustainability activities, the newly formed Environment Society, which runs several activities and planned campaigns throughout the year including litter picking and the Wildlife Society who have recently obtained the Bronze Award for a hedgehog friendly campus. You can also look out for the Green Team Newsletter, sustainability volunteer days and events! Join the journey towards sustainable development.

Read Part 1 here.

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