Cross-Cutting Benefits

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Making the strategic business case for sustainability at South Lanarkshire

South Lanarkshire College used a ‘Great Big Hairy Idea’ to initiate conversations about sustainable behaviours. It began by delivering a project to build a net-zero carbon house on its grounds as a training resource for Construction students and to engage more widely in conversations around sustainability, with Planners, Architects, Builders, Building Standards, Scottish Government Ministers, staff and students.

The corporate learning from the project was invaluable. The College realised that promoting sustainable behaviours was an effective way to address other key aims for the organisation (and wider society), such as reducing fuel poverty, delivering organisational financial health and using resources efficiently.

In 2014, the College went on to embed ‘Promoting Sustainable Behaviours’ as one of three key aims in its Strategic Plan. As a result, when the College built its new building in 2016, it was a net zero carbon teaching block that received an Outstanding BREEAM rating.

The College has also established a Sustainability Group with representation from every Department and Faculty, embraced the NUS Responsible Futures initiative, embedded the promotion of sustainable behaviours into its Corporate Strategy and operational plans, adapted its existing building to have less reliance on fossil fuels, and started embedding sustainable behaviours into the curriculum.

Over the same period, the College has grown in activity by around 40% and has reduced its carbon emissions by 51%. As such, adoption of sustainability as a key strategic agenda has positively contributed to the financial resilience and societal impact of the institution.