Sustainability initiatives & partnerships

Sustainability Efficiency East (SEE)

As part of the Sustainable Efficiency East (SEE) Project, Bedford College has created a state-of-the-art low carbon demonstration centre; Brundtland Building.

Skills for Sustainable Development (SSD) Project

This project offered free training to the unemployed to prepare them for careers in one of the few growing economic sectors – ‘green’ jobs.

Sustainability Efficiency East (SEE) Project

In 2009 the UK Government committed to cutting carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Buildings account for about 40% of carbon emissions in the UK. With about 1% of the existing building stock being replaced by new-builds each year, it is estimated that in 2050 some 70% of today’s buildings will still be in use. Therefore our national targets will only be met by improving the energy performance of existing buildings.

The Brundtland Building has been developed as a resource to showcase the use of alternative energy technologies and energy efficiency techniques in existing buildings. Guidance and support is provided to businesses enabling them to maximise business opportunities in the emerging low carbon economic sectors. Technology demonstrations and a seminar/meeting space are also provided in the Brundtland Sustainability Centre to support local sustainable community and industry initiatives.

Before and after

As well as improving the energy performance of the building, low carbon technologies are also used to provide technology installation and maintenance experience for individuals.

Key innovative and low impact design features of the building include:

  • High performance building fabric including solar control glazing and providing additional insulation
  • Intelligent controls to optimise system performance and minimise energy use
  • River water cooling
  • Photovoltaic solar panels
  • Solar hot water collector
  • Vertical axis wind turbine
  • Rainwater harvesting.

Comfort levels within the building have substantially improved through a focus on heating, cooling and lighting, creating an enhanced learning and work environment. Upgrades have been made to IT and disabled facilities, and a building energy management system (BEMS) is used to monitor the building’s energy performance.

The project is contributing to economic and social sustainability through a range of actions. Examples include:

  • On-site work experience provided to local construction apprentices
  • A meeting and seminar venue for local climate change groups
  • Demonstrations, workshops and seminars for businesses
  • A venue to deliver a first class realistic learning experience for the Construction and Building Services trades.

The Sustainable Efficiency East Project aimed to stimulate the growth of a low carbon economy across the East of England by supporting businesses in reducing their costs and saving energy. The project was led by Bedford College,Cambridgeshire County Council, Consign, Renewables East and West Suffolk College were amongst the delivery partners providing full regional cover.

The project aimed to:

  • Deliver two regional centres of excellence in low carbon innovation demonstrating new build and retro-fit technologies.
  • Develop the supply chain in low carbon economy through business support, expertise and capacity for innovation.
  • Deliver a communication strategy that raises awareness of the need for low carbon technologies.
  • Establish an innovative best practice model, enabling reductions in the carbon footprint of businesses whilst promoting enhanced economic performance.
  • Help businesses reduce their related costs.

This Project was successfully completed in December 2012.

Skills for Sustainable Development (SSD) Project

Bedford College led a group of colleges in the East of England, offering free training to the unemployed to prepare them for careers in one of the few growing economic sectors – ‘green’ jobs.

The £650,000 Skills for Sustainable Development Project, co-funded by European Social Fund, was successfully completed at the end of December 2011. Training was provided for over 600 people – 20% above target. 

A wide range of subjects were offered in renewable energy technologies and sustainable construction skills with the most popular courses being:

  • Renewable Energy Awareness
  • Personal Survival Techniques (offshore working)
  • Wind Turbine Electrical Awareness
  • Trade Aware - Low Carbon Skills
  • Introduction to Renewable Energy

Bedford College provided training for around 35% of the participants and also offered innovative courses such as Installing and Testing Domestic PV Systems, as well as Rammed Earth Construction.

Over half of the participants had been unemployed for more than 6 months. Although finding work was the most challenging aspect of the project, to date 31 people have been supported in gaining employment.

The project was also successful in attracting priority groups; 17% of participants had declared a disability and 15% were from an ethnic minority group.

Feedback from learners was very positive:

“The training I received was first rate and the trainers were attentive and engaging.” David Kelly
“It helped me find contacts for specialist advice.” Peter Hayworth
“The course improved my job prospects.” Patrick Napier
“The course has provided me with a relevant accreditation but also personal growth.” Lesley Hartley
“The course was perfect, there was a great atmosphere and everyone really enjoyed it.” Paul Cross

This project came to a close at the end of December 2011.

Stepping up in Sustainability

The project’s aim was:
‘…to evaluate, further develop, expand and embed effective approaches to sustainable development, and to share these approaches with other providers.’

Bedford College’s contribution was to produce a set of interactive Sustainable Development learning resources (generic and subject focused) across a number of themes to help embed sustainability into the curricula.

The resources produced (including teams & levels) were:

  • Building local resilience (Land based) for L1-3
  • Learning from our ancestors (Engineering) for L2-3
  • Which RE technology for your home or business? (Plumbing) for L1-3
  • Reduce carbon emissions, improve productivity (Business) for L1-3
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle (Hair & Beauty) for L1-3
  • Understanding Sustainable Development (Sustainability Team) for L1-3
  • Sustainability crosswords: 4 of each on 2 themes for L1 & 2 (Sustainability Team)
  • Generic Hex Games for L1 & 2 (Sustainability Team)
  • Arbordo (Ludo type game) for L2 (Sustainability Team)
  • Slicks & Vines (Snakes & Ladders type game) for L2 (Sustainability Team)