Students have been shown the green light in to sustainable careers with a trip away from the classroom.


The new ‘Green Talent Programme’ encourages students to examine environmental and business issues, develop useful skills and provide insight into the types of jobs and career pathways available. It also encourages them to continue focusing on science, technology, engineering and maths subjects in their education.

Twelve students in Year 10 have became the first to complete the five-day course, working two days at the Eden Project in Cornwall and three days at EDF Energy’s Gadeon House office on Exeter Business Park.

Katya Verdonck, EDF Energy’s Head of Resourcing, said: “This is an exciting new initiative to engage with young people, equip them with new skills and really immerse them in the business and sustainability. It encourages them to think about the environmental impact of their behaviours, the links between business and environmental challenges and most importantly, sustainable solutions to those challenges.

The ‘Environmental Experience’, at the Eden Project, gave the 14 and 15-year-olds the opportunity to explore human dependency on nature, linking through to the environmental challenges we face and how individuals, communities and businesses can work to create solutions.

In Exeter, students took part in a variety of sessions, continuing the sustainable theme with a virtual ‘energy walk’ session, low carbon workshop, team-building, a ‘manager’s story’ session, CV-writing, Green Team workshop, careers speed-dating, before ending the week by making presentations on the issue of ‘how the business is preparing itself for a low-carbon future’.

Rob Clemens, Head of Humanities at West Exe Technology College, said: “All the students enjoyed themselves and gained many skills from the experience. The Green Talent Programme is well structured and gives the young people the opportunity to see for themselves not just how a business operates, but how it is facing up to key challenges that matter to us all – how we become more sustainable and help tackle climate change. It has made them think about what contribution they will make in their future career.”

It is hoped this project will be rolled out across the UK.

Christmas has been and gone. A time of celebration and goodwill, often accompanied by increases in eating, drinking and spending. If all has gone well this combination will have resulted in a lot of merriment, but unfortunately it will can also result in an estimated 3 million tonnes of waste.

Topical heat
Topical heat

It is estimated that up to 1 billion Christmas cards could end up in the bins across the UK, and combined with the all the wrapping paper, extra drink bottles, cans and containers, it is no wonder that overflowing dustbins and extra bags of rubbish are a common sight after in the New Year.

However it would appear that it is not just in our homes that waste needs to be minimised.

Recent news reports have shown that high street stores have been accused of an astonishing waste of energy and money after an investigation found that some of them are as hot as tropical holiday destinations.

A survey of the major chains on Oxford Street found the Topshop branch had a temperature of 80.9F or 27.2C.   That is more than ten degrees warmer than the ideal ambient shopping temperature of 64.4F or 18C, as recommended by the Chartered Institute for Building Services Engineers.  Other stores found with temperatures above 77F (25C) included Bodyshop, Debenhams, Esprit, HMV, Clinton Cards, Boots and Monsoon.

Why do the shops maintain such high temperatures in the winter?

According to Professor Ken Parsons, head of Loughborough University’s Human Thermal Environments Laboratory, one of the reasons stores choose to maintain the hot temperatures is because they may see it as a way of enticing potential customers in from the cold.

He also added: “It may be because the workers wish to wear light fashionable clothing or provide what is called ‘thermal pleasure’ to customers.  Thermal pleasure is a transient phenomenon felt when a person moves into a cold environment when too hot or into a warm environment when too cold. In the winter the first impression for the shopper who may be generally cold or have cold skin on the hands and face for example, will be the pleasure of moving to a warm and hence welcoming environment.”

But he warned: “After twenty minutes or so, this affect will wear off and unless clothing is reduced the customer may well become unpleasantly hot and even sticky.”

However it is not just the issue of an unpleasant shopping experience that needs to be considered.  With many stores cranking up the heating and yet leaving their doors wide open, a thought needs to be given to the millions of pounds being wasted, and also the damaging effects on the environment.

Jonathan Elliott, the managing director of Make it Cheaper, commented: “Retailers wanting to outdo each other in creating the most enticing Christmas shopping experiences are wasting huge amounts of energy.   Even in hard times, this is the stage of the year when retailers literally throw caution to the wind, no matter how Arctic it is, opening their doors – wide open in most cases – and crank up the heating.  Throw extra lights into the equation and extended opening hours, and you have exceptionally heavy business electricity consumption for the entire Christmas season.”

However, Tom Ironside, the British Retail Consortium’s business environment director, said: “Retailers want to minimise energy waste as it leads to environmental and financial costs. Individual shops make store temperature judgments based on a range of factors, including customer and staff comfort as well as product requirements.”

Yet, can such tropical temperature levels in stores really be justified?

Personally I would have to say no, however, this year I think I shall take a break from the traditional high street shopping experience and high temperatures, and perhaps try the online virtual oxford street shopping experience provided by Near.

Using the latest 3D video-game technology Near enables you to walk the streets, browse and buy from retailers, watch concerts and films and share information with your friends, all in a beautifully realised environment, and all from the comfort of your own home.

Not only will this mode of shopping save you time and travel costs, but you will also not have to endure the soaring store temperatures and hustle and bustle of the mass of New Year bargain shoppers!   Check it out here.

Leeds University is launching a year-long study into how it might reduce its £11m-a-year energy bill.

Students ready to reduce energy consumption
Students ready to reduce energy consumption

From October two student accommodation blocks will be pitted against each other to test the effect of monitoring electricity consumption. One block will be used as a control sample while each flat in the other block will be fitted with an OWL wireless electricity monitor.

For the first time, Leeds students – who currently pay their bills as part of a flat rental rate – will be able to see how habits like leaving electrical devices on standby rather than turning them off at the plug use unnecessary power, hit their pockets and impact on their carbon footprint.

OWL provides up to the second information on the exact amount of electricity you are using in pounds and pence and in kilo watts. The immediate impact on the carbon footprint by turning off a light or turning down the thermostat can be seen on the OWL monitor and the information can then be recorded instantly and cumulatively, helping to manage your energy saving strategy.

In domestic households, the OWLS have already proven a great success, reducing annual bills by just over a quarter and saving customers hundreds of pounds a year.

The outcome of the study will be monitored by undergraduate Emily Bradley, who recently won a Sustainable Development placement supported by OWL. She will work in the University’s Sustainable Development team to monitor electricity usage, assess the benefits of installing the meters and identify plans for future development.

The project will provide information to the NUSSL national programme on reducing carbon emissions from student residences. If successful it will be rolled out across Leeds University as a whole and will provide a blueprint for universities and institutions across the UK and internationally on how to reduce their carbon footprint.

Commenting on the initiative, Leeds University Deputy Vice-Chancellor John Fisher said;

The project is an exciting part of our Carbon Management Plan. If successful, we hope to be able to roll out the use of OWL electricity monitors to our entire student population, empowering them with the tools to monitor and ultimately reduce their electricity consumption.