Students and staff at South Essex College are ‘Green’ learners

AS Kermit the Frog once sang, it’s not that easy being green, but South Essex College has pulled out all of the stops across its campuses in Southend, Basildon and Thurrock to make them far more eco-friendly when it comes to being energy efficient.

In fact they have been so ‘green’ that they have just won the Green Award (Large Business) at the Essex Business Excellence Awards 2012.

Head of Estates for the College is Geoff Stedman and his team have been instrumental in putting sustainability measures in place. He said: “When you think about being energy efficient at home you might think about changing to energy efficient lightbulbs or adding loft insulation but we’ve had to think on a much grander scale across three sites.

We’ve just finished installing LED lighting in our Southend Campus underground car park, which we got through an interest free loan from Salix Energy. This change alone will save us over £13,000 a year and 61.45 tonnes of Carbon.”

How South Essex College is being energy efficient:

· A compactor is used at the Thurrock Campus to reduce the number of times waste has to be taken to landfill.

· Video conferencing facilities are on all main campuses and most meetings take place using this facility cutting down on cross campus travel.

· Energy efficient boilers across all campuses have been reconfigured to turn off at the optimum time in the evening to save on gas, whilst providing a comfortable environment for classes.

· The College recycles over 30 tonnes of paper and cardboard each year.

· Recycling is in place for metal, waste motor oils, kitchen oil, sawdust, general waste, ink toner cartridges, fluorescent tubes and confidential waste.

· The College is at the advanced stage of introducing a machine that will turn food waste into ‘grey’ water that will be used to keep the drainage system clean.

Such green thinking will be part and parcel of the planned new builds in Basildon and Thurrock and it is already being built into The Forum Southend-on-Sea

For example, the heating and cooling of the new Thurrock Campus will be via air source heat pumps and thermal wheels that will mean minimum electricity and gas is used. Green travel plans are also being worked on for the new Campus increasing cycle storage to 160 for students and staff.

It’s also a message that is given to the College’s students as part of their lessons, ensuring that it is something that will continue to have an impact not just now and today but also for all of our tomorrows. And it is already showing an amazing uptake and interest.

This year an impressive 2,013 students have completed a dedicated short course entitled Environmental Sustainability, compared to just 500 last year.

Claire Gavaghan, Head of Applied Science & Technology, said: “It’s great that our students are so switched on and want to look at small ways they can make a difference. We’ve had students across all courses getting involved from everything from Beauty to Fashion and Childcare so it is something that appeals and is of interest to everyone.”

There has been such an interest and ground swell of support for eco-education that the College even started its first full-time course on the subject in September.

The BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Environmental Sustainability is based at the Southend Campus. The two year course is designed for those who want to follow a career in science and its related areas including environmental technologies, environmental impact and assessment, environmental agencies and conservation.

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