Carbon-neutral by 2035 – our pledge on sustainability

Luminate Education Group has vowed to become a net zero organisation by 2035.

Our newly agreed Climate Emergency and Sustainable Development Pledge spells out our commitment to hit the target by taking group-wide action to cut carbon emissions.

“Climate change and ecological destruction are some of the biggest challenges of our time.

“Schools, colleges and universities, like all institutions, have a responsibility to address them; and to meet the UK government’s target to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

“Luminate Education Group seeks to do so much sooner.”

We will achieve net zero when the amount of greenhouse gases that we are producing is equal to or less than those we are removing from the atmosphere. 

Wide-ranging actions to hit our target

Some of the main steps we will be taking to achieve the goal by 2035 or earlier – the pledge also includes an aspirational date of 2030 – include:

  • Changing our estate and buildings to become more energy efficient, reduce waste and generate their own energy
  • Developing sustainable travel plans for each of our sites
  • Embedding sustainability and green activities into staff development, student life and across our curriculum
  • Encouraging biodiversity on our sites, ensuring areas are dedicated to wildlife and planting
  • Partnering with organisations that value sustainability and hold events to support climate action

Our members will continue to provide, and develop, the green skills instruction that our students and partners need to thrive in a zero carbon economy too. And carbon literacy training will be offered to all our students.

Regular updates on progress

To monitor progress, we are also committed to measuring our carbon footprint – benchmark data is currently being collated – and publishing the findings regularly.

Looking ahead, the pledge – formulated by our Climate Emergency Committee – adds: “We will commit to our pledge and develop a detailed roadmap to outline the actions, resources, time and behaviours that will be necessary to achieve our objectives.

“We can’t do this alone. We will work with stakeholders, businesses and our community through networks, events and advocacy.”

College stepping up to meet the electric vehicle challenge

More training to support the country’s transition to electric cars will be introduced at Harrogate College this September.

Harrogate, as recently widely reported in the media*, has been revealed to be one of the ‘worst prepared areas in the UK’ in terms of supporting the shift to electric vehicles.

Those findings were mainly based on the current scarcity of public charging points, with research showing that the district has just one for every 134 electric or hybrid cars.

Harrogate College, however, is working hard to address the issue by providing technical courses to support the electric vehicle (EV) sector – and has just bought some charging units to use in training this September.

Working with businesses to fill the green skills gap

Principal Danny Wild said: “As a college committed to sustainability, we are determined to support emerging green technologies, including those that will enable our transition to greener forms of transport.

Danny Wild, Principal of Harrogate College

“We have been developing our curriculum to provide electric vehicle infrastructure courses, while tailoring our motor vehicle courses to meet the changes in car ownership.

“In doing so we have also been working closely with local firms so we can provide the appropriately skilled, work-ready students they need.

“The electric vehicle sector is a rapidly growing one that represents a fantastic opportunity for both our students and local businesses, and our ever-evolving range of courses will keep adapting to serve that.”

Harrogate district’s electric vehicle future is bright

APS, which runs a national electric vehicle charger repair and maintenance service from its Harrogate HQ, has partnered with the college to set up a training and recruitment programme to meet the growing demand for EV service engineers.

Business Development Manager John Dyson said that was one of many reasons for optimism: “It is ironic that Harrogate has been criticised so strongly for a lack of action over installing EV chargers, when there actually is so much going on behind the scenes.

“Recent announcements by Transdev, that all Harrogate buses are to be electrified, and Harrogate Borough Council, which is to install 34 charge points in local car parks, gives a taste of just what is on its way!”

The college will introduce a new course, the Level 3 Award in the Installation and Commissioning of Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment, this September.

*For example, in this Harrogate Advertiser report.

Keighley College

Keighley College receives funding for green skills investment

Keighley College is one of six further education providers across the region that will receive £140,000 to invest in specialist equipment to deliver electric vehicle and retrofit training, grow and embed green knowledge within the curriculum and improve links with businesses to develop and enhance their green skills.

As part of the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges (WYCC), the college will be involved in government plans to boost the nation’s skills and make sure more people can secure good, well-paid jobs that are closer to where they live.

A great opportunity to ‘level up’ for sustainability

Kevin O’Hare, Principal at Keighley College, said: “We are delighted to be working with partners across the region to help our young people develop green skills and learn about sustainability.

“Our Industrial Centre of Excellence for Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering provides students with the opportunity to gain real world industry experience and this project will allow us to explore more green opportunities available in these areas.

“It is our aim to ensure that we successfully embed sustainable development goals into our curriculum and prepare our learners for futures in a greener world.”

The Department for Education has announced that it will invest £2.6m in West Yorkshire’s colleges through the Strategic Development Fund. 

The fund was launched in 2021 to help colleges and further education providers to transform their facilities and offer high quality technical training that better meet the needs of local employers and boost job opportunities for their communities.

This would mean that local businesses have access to the home-grown talent they need for the jobs of tomorrow and more people don’t need to leave their hometowns to get a good job.

Preparing a workforce for the future

Project Director of the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges, Joanne Patrickson said: “This funding will make a big difference to our colleges and in turn, the businesses and communities in West Yorkshire. 

“Part of the funding will be a capital investment into equipment and machinery to allow our colleges to train the workforce in electric vehicle maintenance and retrofitting buildings.

“Colleges will be employing dedicated teams to work closely with businesses in the region to understand what help they need to become more sustainable, and the WYCC The Green Skills Service to help employers access the training and resources they need to take action.”

The £2.6m is contracted to be spent by 31 March 2023, but this initial investment will allow these new initiatives to establish and offer training that will prepare the workforce for a sustainable future.

A month of green action at Harrogate College

Students at Harrogate College are set to turn March ‘green’ as they lead a month of environmentally -focused local events.

The college has set up all kinds of activities, ranging from wildflower planting and an art exhibition to a climate café and educational webinars, for its first ever Green Month.

Keen to push ahead with its commitment to environmental action (as outlined in its Sustainability Pledge), the college is also urging the local community to get involved.

The green activities will kick off with a presentation on sustainable technology, plus a litter pick, on Tuesday 8 March.

Harrogate College’s Partnerships and Development Manager, Holly Hansen-Maughan, said: “We were delighted to host the launch event for Harrogate’s first Climate Action Festival last year.

“The festival proved to be a real catalyst for environmental action both for ourselves and the wider community, and our Green Month is the latest example of that.

“We have worked hard to put together a schedule that includes something for everyone and a number of events that are open to residents as well as our students and staff.

“We hope to see lot of people taking part, both to make a difference and to find out more about how we can all work together to secure a more sustainable future.”

As part of its collaborative and employer-focused approach, the college has teamed up with several local businesses and organisations for Green Month.

They include Techbuyer and Ortial, who will be holding a discussion on Sustainable Technology and How It Affects You.

Social impact company Too Good To Go, meanwhile, will explain how they connect businesses with people in need so they can put their surplus food to good use, instead of going to waste.

The Harrogate District’s schools, colleges and sixth forms will also be involved as pupils and students are being invited to design a poster, or piece of art, that will inspire positive environmental action.

For dates, times and more details on all of Harrogate College’s Green Month activities visit harrogate-college.ac.uk/partners/green-agenda/.

This dress is part of the sustainable fashion window display created by Leeds City College students for John Lewis, Leeds

Students make an impact with sustainable fashion at John Lewis

Students from Leeds City College have created a ‘stunning’ sustainable fashion display for one of the city’s highest profile stores.

The striking window exhibit at John Lewis features clothes, and art pieces, that have all been created by Fashion and Textiles students out of previous garments or recycled materials.

The students produced the clothes through their Make an Impact Project which, as the text on the window display explains, is all about pursuing upcycling and sustainability in fashion.

That scheme received a major boost after refugee support charity Yorkshire Aid got in touch to offer some donated clothing that it had been unable to use.

The college then jumped at the chance to team up with John Lewis – and the students are now ‘buzzing’ at the results.


Visual and Digital Arts teacher at the college’s Quarry Hill campus, Amelia Johnson, said: “The students’ brief was called Make an Impact, and they have done just that!

“They have been buzzing and are feeling very proud about seeing their work in the store’s windows on their walk into college.

“They are eager for more opportunities like this and it has clearly motivated them after what has been a very challenging time in their education.

“Some students also gained work experience through dressing the windows, and the John Lewis staff were very supportive while allowing them creative freedom.”

Leeds City College students outside their sustainable fashion window display at John Lewis
Leeds City College students outside their sustainable fashion display at John Lewis

Laura Prince, from the college’s Events team, said: “This has been a fantastic opportunity to showcase the Make an Impact project in our city’s John Lewis store, giving our textile learners the chance to both design and dress the windows.

“We are thankful to the John Lewis staff for helping and mentoring the learners during the window dressing, and for supporting their work from the offset. It has helped our students feel proud of their designs and accomplishments.”

Partner & Events and Marketing Coordinator at John Lewis Leeds, Natasha Whalley, was full of praise for the students’ efforts.

She said: “The team was really grateful to have the opportunity to collaborate with Leeds City College and exhibit its Make an Impact Project.

“It was a pleasure working with the students and we hope the experience they had installing their work gave them a real insight into working in a live retail environment.

“They worked in a professional manner and contributed to the creative aspect of the installation, which ultimately resulted in a well executed window.

“The sustainability message ties in with our brand vision and has gained great feedback from our customers and partners. We are excited for future opportunities to collaborate with Leeds City College.”

Yorkshire Aid collects items to send to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in need.  For more information visit https://yorkshireaid.org/


‘Amazing’ University Centre students are studying for the planet

Innovations fuelled by scientific research are at the heart of the fight against the many threats facing our environment.

At University Centre Leeds (UC Leeds) increasing numbers of students have been choosing ‘green’ subjects for their dissertations in a bid to support such work.

UC Leeds, like its parent body, Luminate Education Group, acknowledges that the world is currently facing a climate emergency and is committed to taking action to improve sustainability.

The environmentally-focused research that is being carried out by Biomedical Science students chimes perfectly with that, and has been hailed by UC Leeds’s Dean of Higher Education, Janet Faulkner, as ‘amazing’.

Outstanding recent projects have included a dissertation on the impact of acid rain and another on how waste water in general, and laboratory cleaning fluid in particular, affects aquatic plants.

Spurred to act by the climate emergency

It was a recent environmental catastrophe that inspired Biomedical Science (BSc Hons) graduate, Eleanor Thomas, to explore why some green plants are much more resistant to acid rain than others.

She said: “I decided on my topic following some extreme environmental disasters, the main one being the Australian wildfires that took place in 2019/20 in which over 27 million acres of forest were burnt.

“This inspired me to begin questioning the impact on life if important ecosystems and species of plants were to become extinct, and what could be done to prevent this.

“I looked into the increasing issue of acid rain and the concerns surrounding its irreversible environmental, cultural, and medical effects, and decided to investigate to what extent acid rain damages plants.”

Her work identified which parts of plants were worst affected by acid rain, opening up a route for further studies – including how susceptible species could be genetically modified to better protect them.

Dacosta Owusu’s dissertation topic, meanwhile, was driven by the role of aqua-culture, and its importance to nutrition in his home country of Ghana.

He said: “I chose the subject having considered the way we dispose of waste water from domestic, laboratory and industrial settings and its impact on aquatic plants.

“In Africa, a lot of people throw waste water away after washing their clothes and utensils, without knowing the significant effects on the plants around them.”

Dacosta’s work involved growing water plants in four different mediums (pure water, disinfectant, a general detergent, and a treated compost) and then extracting and examining chlorophyll from each of them.

He found that organic pollution could limit plant growth, though not fatally – but that just a low concentration of cleaning agents would kill them.

Dedicated staff and a supportive learning journey

Reflecting on his experience at UC Leeds, he said: “I achieved my BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Science despite having three children, work and school.

“I must say that University Centre Leeds has the facilities, lecturers and a well-structured academic system to improve the well-being of every individual, irrespective of their background.”

Eleanor, who is hoping to study for a Masters degree in the near future, echoed those sentiments. She is currently gaining valuable laboratory experience while working in drug development as a validation analyst in immunochemistry.

She said: “Resources to support my studies were always accessible at UC Leeds, even throughout the pandemic when we had limitations, such as no access to physical books in the library.

“Staff and tutors would always ensure you were equipped with everything you needed to complete assignments and revise for exams, and dedicated staff were available to aid in areas such as researching techniques, essay writing, and referencing.

“There was never a time where I felt stuck for someone to turn to for help. At UC Leeds you are supported in all aspects of student life and staff are there to help you with wellbeing, finances, equipment or any problems.

“My experience in Biomedical Science was extremely positive and I would recommend the courses to anyone looking to pursue a qualification in science.”

Quality research with an environmental focus

Dean of Higher Education, Janet Faulkner, said: “Our students are passionate, as we all are at University Centre Leeds, about the environment and are determined to do whatever we can to help limit, or reverse, some of the damage that is being done.

“More and more of our science students have responded to the climate emergency by choosing environmental subjects, with practical applications, for their dissertation topics.

“It is research like this that will be key to us finding the best ways to innovate and change our ways so that we give our planet an urgently needed chance to recover.”

The academic and vocational quality of the science courses at UC Leeds, which place a strong emphasis on developing practical laboratory skills and industry-relevant experience, has been recognised by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

The RSC has named UC Leeds as one of the accredited providers of the Laboratory Technician Advanced Apprenticeship which includes a level 4 Certificate in Higher Education, Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Science. For more details on science subjects at UC Leeds, visit ucleeds.ac.uk/science-courses .

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