University a triple finalist in 2022 Green Gown Awards
Student-led sustainability projects and a social impact grants scheme for the local community are all in the running to win awards.
Three University projects are finalists in the 2022 Green Gown Awards UK & Ireland, a sustainability awards scheme for the further and higher education sector. Winners will be announced at the Green Gown Awards Ceremony which will take place at Loughborough University on 8 November 2022.
Money for Good
Supporting local action for a better Edinburgh
Since 2017, the University of Edinburgh has provided grants to local community organisations for projects which have a positive social impact for people living locally.
The emphasis is on supporting groups who have the least in a city which is one of the most unequal in the UK (Edinburgh Poverty Commission, 2020). While partnership between community organisations and the University is encouraged, the ethos is that communities know what they need and how to achieve it.
Four years in, the longer-term positive impacts of some funded projects are now being seen. The Y2K ‘180’ project, seed-funded by the University in 2018, is going strong and has been in even more need by young people due to the pandemic.
The University is one of very few globally to make community-led funding awards, and offers the most funding out of all. Still, conscious that £50,000 per year is still modest, the University has both doubled this figure in practice and provided other support alongside it.
Research with Impact
Jiacheng Sun, School of Geosciences, PhD student
In recent years, the rapid increase of carbon emissions in the atmosphere and the resulting issues such as global warming and climate change have become significant barriers to environmental sustainability.
Jiacheng's study focuses on the conventional and advanced thermal conversion of fast-growing biomass like macroalgae (seaweed) and microalgae for producing third-generation biofuel and biochar, aiming to establish a leading technology of algal biochar-biofuel system (ABBS) in Europe, and eventually find a cost-effective and environmental-friendly alternative to fossil fuels.
At the same time, the project regards algal biochar as the by-product of ABBS to significantly reduce the cost of algal biofuel, making it a competitive commercial product in Europe. Up to now, a wastewater-derived microalgae biochar was synthesised and proven safe to use as soil amendment agent with no phytotoxicity.
In addition, great electrochemical performance of as-obtained biochar makes it a potential promising battery and supercapacitor electrode material.
Odara Medagedara, School of Biological Sciences, Undergraduate student
Odara established Concrete to Jungle in 2020 as a University of Edinburgh undergraduate student. Despite the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, they ensured this award-winning sustainability project achieved its goal of increasing the involvement of plants in peoples’ lives by encouraging students to take their first steps towards growing their own food.
This project demonstrated how simple a task this can be by hosting a series of engaging workshops and seminars to teach people how to make and maintain indoor herb and vegetable gardens.
Keeping the target audience in mind, these gardens are low maintenance, making them perfect for students who might have limited space, time, and resources. However, everyone, including those housed in university-owned student accommodation have a windowsill – which is all you need!
As such, Concrete to Jungle is an effective and engaging project which increased the involvement of plants in peoples’ lives.
The Green Gown Awards
As the Climate Crisis is increasingly recognised as the most pressing issue our world faces, the Green Gown Awards put a spotlight on the innovative and inspiring sustainability work taking place in universities and colleges to create a brighter future for their students.
Established in 2004, the Green Gown Awards UK and Ireland recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities, colleges and the learning and skills sectors across the UK and Ireland as the education sector leads a path to efficiency, employability and better quality of life all.