Unless you’ve spent the last few years living under a rock, you’ll be well aware that climate change has been a major topic of concern for world leaders, academics, and conservationists the world over.
The TL;DR version is that the Earth’s changing climate affecting our environment is now beginning to make us think twice about our daily actions and consumptions – and the effects we are having on the planet around us.
The impact of climate change
NASA, the world’s foremost space agency, has recognised climate change as a continuous issue and has said: “Scientists have high confidence that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities.”
Greta Thunberg, the 16 year old climate activist form Sweden, recently told the United Nations in New York that; “Everything needs to change. And it has to start today.”
It is clear that there are lots of changes we can make as individuals to help combat climate change, such as ditching plastic straws and using reusable water bottles and coffee cups, however it is also clear that there needs to be more systematic changes made to how we function as a society.
Industries such as Engineering and the Built Environment are now leading the way on redesigning work methods and processes in order to become more ‘green’.
Engineering a greener future
Engineering in the future will help develop and produce new methods of sourcing an environmental friendly approach when producing further methods.
How do we change the way engineering is used? The Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) say that “For a start we can switch away from coal and oil to gas, as gas emits only half the CO2 of coal and two-thirds the CO2 of oil per Joule of energy used.” However, this may not be enough. In Scotland we are lucky to have bountiful renewable energy sources; wind, wave, and even some solar. It is vital that in Fife we remain at the centre of renewable engineering practice in Scotland.
There are also other methods in the works. These include geoengineering techniques that will help battle climate change, as identified by Harvard University in the USA: “Solar geoengineering is also often called solar radiation management, and it focuses on techniques that decrease the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface to cool the planet. These ideas all aim to increase reflectivity through methods such as large mirrors in space or injecting reflective aerosols into the upper atmosphere.”
One energy provider in the UK, Bristol Energy, is showing that the future of energy can indeed be green. According to their latest stats, “with the introduction of more local renewable generators, adding wind, solar and hydro to our portfolio, our fuel mix is getting greener still, up to 79% in 2018/19, compared to 51% in 2017/2018.”
Building a more sustainable world
Often, the built environment can be seen as only harmful to the planet. But this isn’t the case. There are many techniques and technologies now being created and used that are designed to reduce environmental impact while still allowing for the infrastructure that we need.
Although the built environment contributes around 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint, this has reduced since 1990 with insulation installation rates between 2008 and 2012 and decarbonisation of grid electricity both contributed to this downward trend.
Architects and planners are finding more and more ways to incorporate renewable energy sources and green space into projects, and proving that they can still look good while also doing good.
Combating climate change at Fife College
Here at Fife College, we believe in a green, healthy environment to deliver lessons and events throughout every department and classroom. Our Students’ Association takes part in green month, influencing up-cycling of old items into new ones. They also work towards influencing students and staff to cycle to work/college to reduce carbon emissions.
Our hairdressing salons are eco-friendly; they use as little chemicals as possible when doing treatments on clients.
Our culinary arts and hospitality department prepare meals in advanced to prevent any food wastage. This is beneficial as it prepares the students for future work in the workplace and makes them understand why wastage is negative for their industry.
Lessons are encouraged online as an alternative to using paper and staff use iLearn to give students access to notes and other materials.
The outside of our Kirkcaldy Campus has recently had a makeover, designed by 3D Interior Design student Niamh Hogwood. Niamh’s design introduced more greenery to the outside environment at the campus, promoting a healthier and more welcoming approach for visitors and anyone passing or going into the building.
We have also reduced our carbon footprint from 2013/14 to 2017/18 by 32%, a reduction of over 1500 tonnes of CO2e! Amazing result!
And we are still looking at other ways to save carbon and improve biodiversity.
You can start your journey to a career that can make a real difference to the future of the planet now.