Members of Luminate Education Group have had their sustainability credentials recognised through a Green Gown Award.
The group was part of a successful entry that showcased the collective impact of action by West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges’ (WYCC) seven members.
The bid outlined the scores of varied initiatives that each of WYCC’s partners have been undertaking to promote Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the 17 global targets adopted by the United Nations to tackle poverty and protect the planet.
The members’ work over the past year has spanned all of the SDG categories which include Climate Action, Affordable and Green Energy and Responsible Consumption and Production as well as Reduced Inequalities and Quality Education.
Environmental action across the group
Some key examples included:
- Leeds City College, Keighley College and Harrogate College taking part in Planet Earth Games – with Keighley, which produced an indoor greenhouse and a suit of armour welded from waste metal, being crowned the national winner
- Running an array of sustainability-focused courses, with 86 including specific net zero or sustainability content, across multiple fields including digital, business, motor vehicle and travel, food and drink
- Harrogate College embedding sustainable practice across all of its provision, while consolidating its position as a green skills leader
- Leeds Sixth Form College’s staff and students leading litter picking sessions and community clean-ups, using the gathered rubbish to create a sculpture at Park Lane campus
- Engineering students visiting DRAX power station to learn about the sustainable biomass it now uses as its primary fuel and the company’s research into carbon capture technologies
Inspiring first steps towards net zero
Luminate Education Group’s Deputy CEO, Bill Jones, said: “Lessening the impact of the climate emergency is one of our top priorities and something we can only effectively do through collaboration with our partners.
“There is a huge amount of work to be undertaken to make all of the changes we need to become, as we have pledged, net zero carbon by 2035. So it has been inspiring to see the commitment, passion and professionalism of our staff and students – along with those of our partner colleges – as they’ve thrown themselves behind this.
“We’ve made a great start and winning this Green Gown Award is a testament to that and will motivate us as we forge ahead with more sustainability improvements.”
The power of collaboration – and estate-wide improvements
Luminate Education Group Consultant, Jennifer Miccoli, added: “We did a huge amount of sustainability work as part of the WYCC bid, which was led by Shipley College. The collaboration with other colleges, and sharing of resources, was great and enabled us all to pick up some fantastic ideas.
“Our efforts included everything from small student-led community projects right through to reviewing our group-wide processes, particularly regarding our buildings, so we can target what will make the biggest difference in terms of our carbon footprint.”
In terms of the group’s buildings, a new advanced management system has been set up across each site to record and drive efficiencies in the use of energy, water, and heating. A range of multi-million pound infrastructure / rebuild schemes are also in the pipeline, including at Harrogate College and Leeds City College’s Mabgate campus, where the work will be completed to meet the BREEAM (Excellent) sustainability standard.
The installation of solar panels at Leeds’ Printworks campus meanwhile, due to be completed by this summer, is expected to save some 370,000 tonnes of annual CO2 emissions. Leeds Conservatoire is also, thanks to a £1.6m award from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, on course to slash its carbon footprint by upgrading its heating and cooling systems, windows and lighting.