December 3, 2012, by sustainablenottingham
The big picture
Professor Karen Cox, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and chair of the University’s Environment Committee, takes a look at the big picture…
Welcome once again to the Sustainable Nottingham blog. A big thank you to my colleagues who have already contributed! Now it is my turn as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Environment and Infrastructure to share some of my thoughts on issues relating to sustainability and The University of Nottingham.
The University has a bold ambition: to be known as a university that is at the forefront of sustainability – in our teaching, learning, research and the way we manage our operations. This means considering sustainability in all activities and at all levels of the institution.
Sometimes the ‘sustainable’ option is self-evident – like choosing to insulate buildings to avoid wasting energy. But, inevitably, there are times when priorities conflict and we have to balance business needs with our sustainability aspirations. For example, our internationalisation agenda presents interesting challenges at a time when we’re trying to reduce carbon emissions from travelling.
We’re aiming to build a strong culture of environmental citizenship throughout our campuses, which requires a variety of approaches in such a large, diverse organisation. University-wide programmes like the student bike hire scheme, sustainable print service and potential wind farm development are supported by school or departmental initiatives, such as the School of Pharmacy’s recent green lab competition.
It’s clear that we need to work together if we are to achieve the University’s aim of reducing negative environmental impacts, achieving our carbon reduction targets and becoming more energy efficient but I believe we are ideally placed to influence the future through our research addressing global issues and by ensuring that Nottingham graduates are literate in sustainability.
I would be glad to hear from you if you have ideas about how we can act collectively and individually to raise awareness in this area and take action to be more sustainable in all that we do.
I look forward to hearing from you!
1) I notice that while the University is doing much to encourage bicycle use students seem to be largely responsible for large amounts of broken glass on Derby Road. Empty bottles that can be broken after they are left littered on walls and pavements waste glass and shattered glass presents a puncture risk to cyclists.
2) The small amounts of energy that can be saved by diligently switching off unused appliances must be exceeded by the amount of energy used during 24 opening of libraries. Greenfield Medical Library is largely empty between 2am and 8am with all the lights and heating on.
3) New buildings such as the Mathematics building do not appear to have available surfaces covered with solar electric cells. Understandable the university might want to delay the application of these panels to buildings if their efficiency is to increase in the future. Nevertheless could it not be possible for new buildings to have attachment points on them, at the time of building, so that it would be cheaper to attach panels in the event of a breakthrough improvement in their efficiency in the future?
With regards to international travel and reducing carbon emissions. What about introducing a mandatory policy that enables the offset of any international travel.
For instance by using a carbon calculator for each journey and a carbon credit purchase scheme to buy the required amount. It might even be possible to set up a local carbon credit scheme, so for every international journey a staff member takes then a tree has to be planted in the local community or even on campus!
That would encourage people to think about the sustainability of their journey before they even set off.