Friday, 9 September 2011

Sustainability Team visit Hadlow College

Last week the Sustainability Team headed to Hadlow in Kent to visit Dr. Howard Lee and Sue Brimlow at Hadlow College. Hadlow is one of the University’s ten partner colleges and has been implementing a number of different sustainability projects that Kat and John were keen to investigate.

Kat and John met Howard and Sue in the Broadview Garden Centre Restaurant, the garden centre is owned and run by the college as a commercial enterprise and as well as supplying all your gardening needs it also does a mean club sandwich! Sue and Kat were quick to exchange information on developing a carbon management plan. Sue is currently writing one for Hadlow and Kat finished the University’s plan earlier in the year. On top of writing the carbon management plan Sue has been developing the college’s sustainability strategy for some time now and it makes for impressive reading:

As part of the plan Sue was particularly interested in how behaviour change can make a positive contribution to reducing carbon emissions. As a result of this Hadlow will be having a team in the second year of the University’s Green Impact project. The successful project, that had the university’s schools and offices implement small positive changes outlined in a workbook, is entering its second year in October and work on the new workbook is currently taking place. The NUS who run the project have allowed Greenwich to open it up to the partner colleges and Hadlow are the first to take us up on the offer – here’s hoping we may have a couple more signed up before the launch.

After lunch it was to the Rural Regeneration Centre which is a new building converted and extended from redundant calf sheds. The building is one of the first educational establishments in the UK to have built a new building to the PassivHaus standard which requires buildings to use just 10% of the typical energy use of an equivalent modern building. The building has an energy monitoring display showing the building’s energy consumption, makes use of the natural light and also includes a ground source heat pump and waterless urinals as some of the ‘green’ features.

John Bailey, Dr, Howard Lee and Sue Brimlow outside the Rural Regeneration Centre
Another site of particular interest is the Hadlow College community allotment. The allotment which is maintained and used by 12 local families is a great example of how a previously unused piece of land can be transformed into a vibrant space. The allotment is used in a community style whereby everyone chips in to do the work and everyone gets a share of the produce. They have produced some delicious looking fruit and vegetables and they have their own website here:

Barbecue area and shed for the allotments

Some of the delicious looking produce from the allotments
The allotment is of particular interest at the moment as the university is planning on converting the unused space opposite the tennis courts at Avery Hill Campus into a community allotment for staff and students to grow their own fruit and vegetables on site and learn how to do so. Our guide for the day Dr. Howard Lee is a leading academic on sustainable agriculture has had a particular focus on the challenges of supplying a city with continuous and sustainable supply of food and looking at how urban spaces could be used more effectively to answer these challenges. The community allotment idea is a direct response to the challenges he is researching and one the University is keen to address too. Earlier in the year Howard gave a quick presentation at the university’s Sustainability Awards inspiring some of the sustainability champions to pursue their interest in food growing to the next level and sign up for evening courses at the Hadlow Mottingham Campus.

Stefan explains some of the energy saving projects to Caroline
In the afternoon the Sustainability Team were joined by Caroline Troy of the Natural Resources Institute who was keen to see how Hadlow College are reducing the amount of energy needed to heat their Greenhouses. We were introduced to Stefan Jordan a horticulture lecturer who is managing the greenhouses at Hadlow and showed us around some of the energy saving ideas they have implemented. As well as being impressed by vast numbers of tomatoes we were also shown a bizarre cross between a cucumber and a melon, not sure you’ll find that on the shelves of your local greengrocers any time soon! After looking at the greenhouses Stefan took us via a few plum, pear and apple trees where some impromptu scrumping took place – the Sustainability Team’s fridges are now full of the stuff.

John gets caught scrumping on camera!
At the end of the day the sustainability team hopped back on their bikes – now weighed down with fruit – and headed back to London full of horticultural inspiration and the start of what will hopefully become a great partnership between the Hadlow and Greenwich sustainability teams.

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