Sustainability is an ideal state where human activity does not degrade the environment, but maintains natural systems and resources for future generations.
Sustainable development is the process that moves us closer to sustainability.
Since the publication of the Stern Review by the Treasury (2006), which outlined the economic case for acting on climate change, the business case for sustainable development cannot have been clearer:
‘No-one can predict the consequences of climate change with complete certainty; but we now know enough to understand the risks. Mitigation - taking strong action to reduce emissions - must be viewed as an investment, a cost incurred now and in the coming few decades to avoid the risks of very severe consequences in the future. If these investments are made wisely, the costs will be manageable, and there will be a wide range of opportunities for growth and development along the way’.
For FE institutions as businesses, it makes sense to make the operations of buildings and estate more efficient, and to invest in carbon reduction. With the expectation that carbon emissions will be heavily taxed and capped and that energy prices will continue to rise in the future, it is important to start to take action sooner rather than later.
For FE institutions as educators, it makes sense to introduce sustainable development into the curriculum to provide learners with the knowledge, skills and values that are needed to mitigate the effects of climate change. Students in FE need to be aware of and understand issues around sustainability, which are already important in the workplace, but will increasingly be so in the future. Students with the skills and competences gained through education in sustainability will have increased employment prospects and greater potential for career progression. Additionally, colleges have an important role to play in supporting local businesses and the wider community in their journey towards a more sustainable way of living.
Understanding the “business case” for sustainability is vital to ensuring that programmes are sustainable in themselves. This will not only help to ensure projects are well supported from the senior team, but also make them more resilient if budgets are cut. Be prepared to express and demonstrate the benefits of initiatives with indicators such as cost savings, legal compliance, staff development, student involvement or positive marketing achieved. Being able to demonstrate achievements will also ensure it is possible to celebrate successes. Applying for awards is a great way to gain recognition and garner further support from colleagues, and in particular from senior leadership teams!
What makes sustainability particularly relevant for the Learning and Skills sector?
The new Sustainable Development Goals were agreed in September 2015 by the UN’s 193 Member States. The aim is to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. “The seventeen Sustainable Development Goals are our shared vision of humanity and a social contract between the world’s leaders and the people” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “They are a to-do list for people and planet, and a blueprint for success.”
Education plays a big part in achieving these goals, and the FE sector is in a pivotal role to contribute, having contact and communications with so many learners.
The Sustainable Development Goals would be a great resource to focus a cross-organisational learning day on.
Click on the Sustainable Development Goals image to see what they all are.
The purchase of a real-time energy management system called Eniscope in August 2013 enabled Dundee and Angus College to identify any hidden energy leaks
Students have benefitted from experiencing practical, outdoor activities that are environmentally sound and of benefit to the wider community.
Using Benjamin Franklin’s premise “Involve Me and I’ll Learn”, the College has actively involved students in a number of projects, events and activities...
This project supports families in-need by transforming run-down and derelict properties into modern and affordable homes in the community.
The Green Trail is an induction activity that raises awareness of the importance of environmental sustainability by familiarising students with the College and its grounds
E-Collegey was launched at Uxbridge College in 2012 to boost participation in green activities and encourage awareness of sustainability issues.
This case study demonstrates how d+b facades insulated aluminium rainscreen overcladding, replacement windows and single ply overroofing at The Bournemouth and Poole College.
This case study describes how d+b facades transformed poor accommodation into a contemporary learning environment.
Grow Allot is an exciting initiative created by the City College Plymouth to restore an area of disused ground at its Kings Road site into an allotment style, community garden.
Harrow Colleges’ sustainability objective has benefitted staff, students, contractors, wildlife and the local community by raising awareness and improving working practices.
This project is about embedding sustainability into the student curriculum and into their and staff’s lives at South Essex College.
This facility will provide unique curriculum and learning opportunities for further and higher education and for research and development throughout Belfast and Northern Ireland.
The Manchester College upcycled a derelict Grade 2 listed public baths building, designed by renowned architect Henry Price in 1910
EcoBCoT is a strategic initiative that started in September 2012 and has made a huge impact in its first twelve months at Basingstoke College of Technology
This case study describes how d+b facades refurbished Chelmsford College with aluminium rainscreens, doors and high performance timber-aluminium composite replacement windows.
“That bit extra” promotes engaging projects that has included everything from plants to pants.
A case study with the Carbon Trust and Salford City College which demonstrates how they embedded carbon management into their organisation and developed a carbon management plan.
A case study with the Carbon Trust and Gloucestershire College demonstrating hoe they've been working to reduce its usage of electricity and gas.
A case study about the Stockton Riverside College which was looking to inform the curriculum by developing new sustainability skills provision in partnership to collaboratively...
Case study from Truro and Penwith college on leading to learn and learning to lead: from sustainability to employability, greening the local economy