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“Because we have been working on environmental issues for some time I was surprised at how much useful practical information was new to me which I can now apply within my organization.”
Sheila Daly, University of Portsmouth
Sustainable Business Breakfast – Uckfield
The popular series of Sustainable Business Breakfasts continued on the 7th October in Uckfield, on the theme of sustainable buildings. Delegates enjoyed a networking breakfast before Duncan Baker-Brown from BBM Sustainable Design and Steven Green from Ringmer College gave their presentations. The event was part of the Green Growth Platform events programme.
Steven Green gave a best practise case study talk on the sustainability achievements of Ringmer College. Steven’s ethos is that students need to learn about environmental management because these are issues that will impact their future, and they should also learn to take personal responsibility for their own energy use and waste – without relying on others to clean up after them.
Ringmer have many types of renewable energy systems installed, including solar thermal, solar PV, a wind turbine, a ground-source heat-pump and a biomass boiler, which uses locally coppiced wood. Their new 6th form building is thoroughly insulated and incorporates a rainwater harvesting system.
These measures have cut their energy bill by £25,000 a year, before taking into account the income from the Renewable Heat Incentive for the ground-source heat-pump. But as an educational establishment, what’s more important than the cost savings is the learning opportunity provided for the students. The renewable technologies and their smart meters act as a tangible learning tool in the classroom, and the level of student engagement in the sustainability drive is impressively high. Out of 700 students, 200 are actively involved and 12 ‘eco-reps’ basically run the sustainability team, with Steven overseeing their work. The college have won several awards and had copious coverage in the national media.
After this impressive case study, the architect and university lecturer Duncan Baker-Brown gave a presentation on several sustainable building projects he’s been involved in, including The House That Kevin Built and Brighton Waste House. He spoke about moving from a linear economy to a circular economy, where buildings are not only made from recycled materials but are also designed with careful demolition in mind – so that the materials can be salvaged and used again.
Brighton Waste House, the first public building made entirely from waste in Europe, was built as a tool for raising awareness of waste issues. It is made from reclaimed materials from construction, household and commercial waste, such as old video cassettes and toothbrushes as insulation, compressed paper for a staircase and vinyl posters as cladding. The house acts as a working eco-design lab, with students frequently coming to get tours and showcase their own work and the space being hired for community events. The guiding message of the project was summed up when Duncan commented that “there’s no such thing as waste, just stuff in the wrong place”.
After the two presentations, a quick-fire round-the-tables session allowed delegates the opportunity to introduce themselves and their business. Delegates came from all over Sussex representing a varied array of businesses and organisations, from sectors including transport, renewable energy, business services, education, property management and local government. The morning ended with networking and a final round of coffee and croissants.
The Green Growth Platform supports a thriving and innovative green sector in Sussex through a unique menu of business services delivered by a team of industry specialists, business advisers and university experts. The Platform offers businesses 1-2-1 coaching, events and networking, innovation and R&D support and skills and training.
The Sustainable Business Network is pleased to be working in partnership with the Green Growth Platform to run a series of networking events, site tours and specialist seminars.