YOU could say that South Essex College is switched on to switching off as it has been highly commended in the newcomer category at the prestigious Green Gown Awards 2013, which recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities, colleges and the learning and skills sectors across the UK.
Judges awarded the College, which has campuses across Basildon, Southend and Thurrock, for its “broad range of activities which have been achieved and obvious enthusiasm, which provides substantial opportunity for ongoing engagement from staff and students.”
Key to the College’s success is that it has been embedding sustainability into the student curriculum and into the lives of students and staff alike, focusing on waste management, energy and procurement, sourcing equipment and resources from sustainable and local companies.
All level 3 students have undertaken the Ascentis Environmental Sustainability Award and students from across the College also took part in forums and online polls regarding sustainability issues to gain their views on what they would like to see take place within the College.
There has also been the use of LED lighting which has reduced energy and maintenance costs by £10,000 per year. Refuse initiatives have saved another £10,000 in terms of reduction in mixed general waste being collected.
Students and staff are encouraged to recycle or reuse resources, for example old towels from its beauty and hairdressing course have been given to its dog grooming course for drying dogs.
Jo Taylor, Marketing and Communications Manager from the College, who helped with a short video for the entry, said: “This is a perfect springboard to raise the awareness and the recognition of the work on sustainability so far, expanding our information on best practice exchange.
“The award will assist us in the communication of the sustainable achievements of the College’s staff and students so far. We aim to expand on our project of sustainability and enter another Green Gown category next year.”
Over 325 sustainability leaders were on the edge of their seats as the BBC’s Professor Iain Stewart announced the winners of this year’s Green Gown Awards. It was a fantastic night with 81 finalist institutions, 14 winners, 21 highly commended and three international winners.
This was a true celebration of sustainability best practice within the tertiary education sector. The Green Gown Awards Ceremony was a resounding success and a fitting tribute to the pioneering environmental and sustainability initiatives that have been championed in the tertiary education sector this year.
In summarising the significance of the Awards, Professor Stewart, stated: “Sustainability is one of those ideas that means something different to everyone. And yet we all have a clear notion of what is “unsustainable”. The Green Gown Awards are about celebrating a shift in thinking within the university and college sector to embrace and support those that are really pushing ahead with meaningful ways of making a future that works for all.”
The Awards are now established as the most prestigious recognition of sustainability excellence within the tertiary education sector, as well as the environmental sector.