On Monday the 28th of January, Dr Jennifer Mindell of the UCL Research Department of Epidemiology & Public Health held a lunch-hour lecture on Cycling, walking or driving – what are the risks and benefits?
The one-hour lecture had an extremely high information density and showed a variety of research findings, figures and statistics that are encouraging for us walkers, runners and cyclists. A small collection of great findings: in a Finnish study, 55-year old cyclists were found to have the aerobic fitness of someone 30 years younger. There were 8 times more road injuries amongst car occupants than cyclists, proportions of cyclist death and serious injuries have fallen 33% in the last decade and one cyclist fatality occurs per 30 million kilometres cycled. However, a wider adoption and more research is needed because the average cyclist is a man in his forties, and comparative data is still an issue. The lecture ended in style with a most amusing fact: cycling is actually less dangerous than fishing. So let’s cycle.
Research carried out by Yvonne Rogers of UCLIC (Division of Psychology & Language Sciences, and Department of Computer Science) has got people to use the stairs instead of the lifts. It involved placing small glowing LED lights in a path to the stairs. Further details of the experiment can be found at http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1864372
Maybe this could be implemented at all UCL buildings. Not only does it help the environment but it also helps people get fitter
Christmas came early as I answered to phone to hear Rosie tell me that PALS were Number 1 for Xmas and top of the Green Impact League Table. We are the Band Aid, or rather the latest X Factor winner, of UCL.
How did we achieve this you may ask…indeed we’ve also asked this ourselves… However we do have small dedicated team from across the many disparate parts and buildings that form the entity known as PALS. We’ve met regularly both as a larger team, and as smaller teams from each building and allocated tasks where they best suit among ourselves. We’ve battled with the vagaries and inconsistencies of our air-conditioning, we’ve risked offending esteemed academic colleagues by reminding them to switch off their lights, and we’ve tried to be as informative as possible over green issues eg designed a Green Web Page, set up Green Noticeboards, and sent e-mails encouraging all to walk and cycle. Everyone in PALS now knows that the cycle rate for work-related meetings or conferences is 12p per mile but nobody’s yet submitted an expense claim of £79.20 for cycling to a conference in Edinburgh. We live in hope though. We’ve even tried to understand and then educate our staff and students about the nuances between the red and clear bags for rubbish, even dealing with tricky, academic questions such as ‘What if there’s food on my plastic container? Should that go in a red or clear bag?’…
However the success is down to having a dedicated and keen team of staff and students committed to making PALS a greener and brighter place. Oh, and we also started to enter data into the Green Impact Workbook.
Liberal Democrat Energy Minister Ed Davey’s clash with his Conservative deputy John Hayes over the future of wind turbines earlier this month demonstrates how topical and divisive the sustainable energy agenda can be.
Despite the issue’s current high media profile, a quick show of hands at the start of Professor Paul Ekins’ Lunch Hour Lecture on 20 November illustrated that there is little public awareness of 2012 as UN International Year of Sustainable Energy for All – even among an audience with an interest in the topic.
Undeterred, Ekins, who is Professor of Resources and Environmental Policy and Director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, immediately set out in stark terms why sustainable energy is “a huge issue”: 1.3 billion people globally in 2012 have no access to electricity, and 2.7 billion – more than one-third of the world’s population – lack clean cooking facilities.
What we did in the CEGE (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering) department was:
1. Hired a student for 4 weeks to carry out a very simple survey of all the bins, types of lighting, heaters, etc., in the Chadwick building.
2. Then we decided to investigate about how the UCL buildings around us dealt with their waste and decided to copy the Geography department.
3. Supported by the department, we decided to launch a CEGE waste scheme on the 26th of September 2011 by unifying all the bins and making it clearer for people to understand. We also held a feedback session on the 18th of November 2011 to review the sceme.
4. We updated the scheme once we found out UCL was dealing differently with the waste.
5. The scheme was then improved and updated.
6. And we made a video!
7. We are still trying to improve our waste scheme so any feedback would be appreciate it!
CEGE Green Group
For pictures of the same post, please see https://moodle.ucl.ac.uk/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=277977
For more information on how the scheme started please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org and for more information of what the CEGE Green Group is up to please contact email@example.com
What do people do to warm-up when they become too cold in their home?
This simple question is both surprisingly important and hard to answer. It is important because about a sixth of all the UK’s energy is used to heat homes. It is hard to answer because most of what people do is done out of habit, and they find it hard to reliably remember these habits and tell us about them.
This lunch presentation introduced the methods applied in my PhD project, where a mixed-methods framework is used to map people’s daily activity, by measuring environmental and physiological variables. One of the key aims is to gather accurate measurements using ‘discreet’ observatory systems in order to have a minimum impact on occupants’ behaviour. By using ubiquitous sensors a rich picture of people’s variability in daily activity can be drawn over continuous timeframe. See the example output below showing monitored heart-rate and accelerometer output over a 2 hours sequence for 1 participant. The results from both sensors were combined, and then validated by a visual diary.
In conclusion, mapping occupants’ thermal discomfort responses can potentially help understand, conceptualise and influence some of the practices driving energy demand.
Publications of this research may be found under this link:
An amazing picture that depicts global atmospheric modeling, which is a unique tool to study the role of weather within Earth’s climate system. It is a beautiful reminder to think about what we are releasing into the atmosphere, and the affect it might have on the rest of our planet.
GAT, as we’re better known, was founded in the Autumn of 2008 by Prof Alexi Marmot, an expert in facilities and environment management. She recognised that sustainability was going to become more and more important and decided to set up the focus group, originally based in the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, to help bring environmental issues to the forefront of departmental decisions.
That year, a very successful poster competition was launched explaining to people how to use the then waste system. Since then, GAT has become a faculty-wide institution and is now chaired by Faculty Manager Helen Fisher, with Dr Marcella Ucci (BSGS) as vice chair. GAT is currently following up on a series of recommendations from a ‘Sustainability Review’ commissioned for the Faculty last year as well as meeting people from other universities to share ideas.
GAT members recently visited Imperial College to see (and smell!) their on-site food composter.
GAT was the backbone behind Wates House winning the Bronze Award in the Green Impact Programme in 2012. We’re hoping for bigger and better things across the faculty in 2013.
June is a very busy time in the student accommodation with residents saying goodbye to old friends, moving into new places with new people or heading home for the summer. Whatever the destination it is inevitable that you will have to clear stuff from the old place or get stuff for the new place. ‘Junk in the Trunk’ a reuse and recycling scheme run by student volunteers to try to assist with the end of year stuff problem and prevent thousands of unwanted items ending up in landfill.
In 2010 the Junk in the Trunk pilot scheme was set up by UCL Student Accommodation in collaboration with UCLU Volunteering and a charitable organisation called CRISP www.crispej.org.uk/.
So who does what?
UCL Student Accommodation funds the project, provides the collection areas and helps promote the scheme.
UCLU Volunteering promotes the scheme and recruits team leaders and helpers who then ensure timely checks, tidy up days and now shops are staffed.
CRISP collect, sort and redistribute collected items to a wide variety of organisations. Items that cannot be reused are recycled.
Now in its third year it has expanded from covering half the residential sites to all sites. This year saw the introduction of pop-up shops running in September at the two largest halls. The pop-ups were a great success; items that were donated in June were then made available on a pay-what-you-think-it-is-worth basis with all proceeds going to the charity Centrepoint www.centrepoint.org.uk/.
We aim to expand or improve the scheme each year, next year we hope to have more pop-up shop to re-distribute goods in house. The shops primary purpose is to unite unwanted goods with new owners but they also generate interest in the scheme as a whole which in turn helps volunteer recruitment. The Charitable side of the scheme is also significant with donations making a real difference to the community, the environment as well as people in need locally.
In 2012 Junk in the Trunk prevented almost 5 tons of goods from going to landfill, it helped numerous charities, started several conversations about the environment and quite a few people got a lovely toaster!