Friday, 22 October 2010

First signs of winter in South London.

Autumn is most definitely here and we are fast moving towards the winter. With the first frost this week now is the time to collect all those sloes you haven't yet plucked from the blackthorn bushes around the Avery Hill Campus. It has been a good mushroom hunting season this year, I have spotted many of the fabulous fungi on campus this term and will be doing my last mushroom hunting trip of the year this weekend on the North Downs of Surrey, not too far from us in South London.

Along with welcoming the colder seasons back we are also welcoming back Kat who has returned from Borneo ready to steer the Sustainability Team through to next spring. With the colder weather we also have to note people are starting to look towards the controls of their radiators thinking about cranking them up and making their offices meccas of warmth. Of course I would never tell people to sit in the cold all winter but perhaps we ought to have a look in our winter wardrobe before we all get a bit overzealous with the heating. Our friends at Do The Green Thing have come up with a rather marvellous idea, have a look here:

The good news is that thick woolly jumpers are definitely making a come back this season! For some reason they always do in winter?

In the meantime to make sure you don't waste too much energy (and money) this coming winter now will be a good time to invest in some extra loft insulation, it is probably even cheaper than you think and very easy to install. In fact we love loft insulation so much at the University of Greenwich we have been adding to and improving out current insulation all through 2010 to try and keep us all that little bit warmer this winter. Of course body insulation is a very good idea at this time of year, keep an eye out for those woolly jumpers as sported by Green Thing in the video above, and of course feel free to send in a picture of yourself in your most prized woolly jumper - I may even be able to wangle a prize for the most hideous. If you are going to turn the heating on make sure you do your best to keep the heat in your room, close the windows and look out for any drafts. If you do find a draft on campus make sure you report it to Facilities Management and if you find one at home you could try making your own draft stopper.

We can now also look forward to winter with the excitement of knowing that our Staff Sustainability Champions Network will be in full swing. On the 9th of November staff members from various schools and offices from across the University will be coming together at the Greenwich campus for the launch of the Champions Network and the Green Impact workbook. Staff Champions will be given a set number of tasks to achieve a bronze and a silver standard for their local area, there will also be several other awards to look out for including a gold award, most outstanding contribution to sustainability over the year and various others. We are also looking to generate some competition from our friends at the University of East London as they will be launching their Green Impact at the same time.

University of East London Stratford Campus
 We have also embarked on our first Biodiversity Steering Group Meeting, initially looking at the Avery Hill Campus the group has discussed a wide range of potential projects to be investigated further. Food growing spaces, wild flowers, managed woodlands, pooled streams, restored ponds and compost heaps were amongst the topics of conversation but before we dive straight in we will be surveying the campus and seeing what we already have. Debbie Bartlett, the University's very own environmental conservation expert and senior lecturer was on hand to give the advice while the sustainability team, campus management, resources and ground staff were all represented around the table as well. Debbie will be charging the student involvement on the group so look out if you're an Environmental student we could be seeing your input soon too.

The Dingle on the Mansion Site: Up for restoration?
I shall keep you updated on how we progress from here with regards to the Biodiversity Group, and if all goes well perhaps I will also be looking for people keen to try their hand at a bit of food growing on campus.

For those of you who we met at the GET Opportunities Fayre, we have your details and we are currently looking at projects that you can get involved in. of course if you see there being an opportunity for a project that you would be really keen to sink your teeth into don't be afraid to jump the gun and come and find us or send us a message to tell us what you would like to do.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Photos from Southwood Lodge

I went along to Southwood Lodge this morning to see if I could get any decent photos of our bees for our friends in the PR department. Bees are not easy to photograph! They are constantly moving but I did manage one photo that I was happy with.

One of our honey bees at work

While trying to capture the bees I also found some other interesting bits and pieces in the Southwood Lodge garden.

Our hives in the garden

A few common puffballs

Unidentified mushroom


Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Sustainability Train at full steam.

It has been a little while since I last posted here on the Green Greenwich Blog, largely due to the non-stop nature of everything going on here! It barely feels like we have had a moment to catch a breath here at the University and it looks like it is going to be that way for foreseeable future.

Where's Kat hiding?

The Sustainability Team is somewhat reduced at the moment with our Captain Kat Thorne exploring the rainforests in far and distant lands but John and the Gnome have been hard at work in her absence. Most notably on the Higher Education Carbon Management Plan where we have joined forces with the Head of Estates and the Building Services Manager to keep the University chugging along in getting the plan ready for early next year. Expect to see numerous projects appearing spread across all the departments of the University all with measures in place for cutting our carbon emissions and working towards the targets set out by HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) and the Climate Change Act 2008.

Last week Sustainability and Marketing were knocking their heads together to work towards an exciting campaign to promote everything ‘sustainability’ at the University with conversation moving from the website, to fridge magnets, to computer games, staff and student engagement and potential competitions for our students to get involved with. Speaking of students getting involved we have found a space on the brand new shiny Biodiversity Group for one lucky student who lives at Avery Hill to assist with the direction we want to take our biodiversity projects. I’m hoping that this is going to lead to new era of environmental understanding and diversity on the Campus here at Avery Hill and there already seems to be interest for restoring the dingle, reinvigorating the part of the River Shuttle that runs through the campus, creating a wildflower meadow, building an allotment and planting fruiting trees.

On the subject of fruit I am delighted to announce that I have been reaping the benefits of being based here at Avery Hill and have spent at least two lunchtimes wandering around picking the delights the campus has to offer. On the menu last Thursday was a dish I have never tried cooking before – Quince Crumble. It’s delicious but a very different ingredient to any that I have used before. The quince has an incredibly sharp taste which you must compliment with buckets of sugar and cooking for long lengths of time, once this is done however you have an unforgettable flavour which reminds me of the taste of the Toxic Waste sweets! Not a great name for a sweet but they are delicious if you like that sort of thing.

Quince Crumble (Mine wasn't quite as beautiful!)

If you want to give the Quince Crumble a try here’s the recipe I followed. The next quince dish I will try will be Quince Membrillo, which the Spanish like to eat with cheese.

Tonight I will be attempting something a little bit different with another fruit I have found on the Avery Hill Campus. Tonight is Sloe Gin Night! I have picked roughly 50 sloe berries which have been placed in the freezer (Sloes you traditionally pick after the first frost but I am inpatient so I’m creating a fake frost by putting them in the freezer) they will be removed this evening, will go through the torment of being meticulously pricked with a needle and then placed into a big bottle of cheap gin. No need to go for an expensive gin here, the sloes will overpower the flavour anyway. Add a little sugar and then place in a dark cupboard until Christmas. Christmas Day, get the gin out and serve to all your friends and family. Boxing Day, stay in bed!

Sloes, Sugar and Gin - A recipe for success!

In other news I have been working hard on the preparations for the launch of our Sustainability Champions Network which is looking like it will be on the 9th of November. To go hand in hand with this we will also be launching our Green Impact workbook so our Champions will have a great project to get going with right from the onset. Next week we have the first meeting of the aforementioned Biodiversity Group, a visit from Joanna Romanowicz from the NUS, LUEG meetings, the GET Opportunities Recruitment Fair and a whole load of other goings on. Looks like it’s full steam ahead for little while longer then.