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GreenLancaster are currently undergoing change as the previous manager of the scheme resigned before Christmas, with no permanent replacement installed yet.
Darren Axe, GreenLancaster’s project intern, assured SCAN that this will have “no impact on day to day operations, with 175 students engaged in various projects, with new projects to be introduced over the next few weeks.” He highlighted the work done by these students last term, such as those who had placements with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust and the RSPB.
However, Axe added that there may be “small changes in terms of events and projects, it depends on the [new] staff member, but we have a highly specified remit from V [the national young volunteers service], who we have to report back to four times a year, and Facilities, who part fund us.
Sarah Hinton, assistant director of LUVU, said: “This term we are going to make a big push on promoting the work of the students and also advertise new opportunities, as well as raise the profile of the unit,” adding that “we are also keen to hear from students who have their own ideas for projects as we want the work of GreenLancaster to be shaped by the students.
GreenLancaster have recently relaunched their carbon competition in Pendle, County, and Grizedale colleges, hoping to repeat the success of last term. The pioneering competition, which rewards the flat that uses the least energy over a set period of time, began on Monday 18th January and aims to encourage students living on campus to be more aware of their effect on the environment.
Axe suggested that ensuring the competition achieves its aims is a challenge. “It’s difficult to engage all flats in a 52 flat college – how do you get number 49 on the league table for example to fill up less of the kettle? This is why last term we introduced a ‘most improved’ flat prize, to incentivize people.”
Last term the project involved over 900 students, with some acting as ‘light police’ to turn off unused equipment and several flats holding ‘lights out’ nights once a week. Incentives throughout the term included trolley dashes in stores on campus, cinema tickets, cash prizes, and VIP nights at local bars. An awards ceremony was held at the end of term, which Hinton said was “well attended” and “celebrated the achievements of the most energy-conscious kitchens.”
Hinton added that “technicalities with new computer systems have meant we have spent more time than planned on making the competition work”, but they “hope that [the competition] can be rolled out to other colleges.”
Currently the competition is limited to a certain number of colleges, as the smart meters used to measure energy usage are expensive – adding Pendle college to the competition last term took up a large proportion of GreenLancaster’s budget. Axe added that the university’s Facilities department are “potentially interested” in providing funds to extend the usage of the meters if they are “proven to reduce energy”, although specific percentage targets have not been imposed. The two parties are instead more interested in using qualitative research, such as surveys, to see if the scheme raises awareness of the issues.
Information on how to get involved is available at www.greenlancaster.org.uk.