The week of 15-21 October marked this year’s ‘Global Climate Change Week’ while here in Scotland we celebrated the action being taken on climate change closer to home with Scotland Climate Week (1-5 October).  

Both weeks were great opportunities to raise awareness of climate change, the impacts it could have, and the individual and collective actions that we all need to take if we are to achieve the Paris Agreement goal to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C.

During Scotland Climate Week I had the opportunity to speak with 250 students and staff with 85% of those I spoke to saying they were concerned about climate change so it is clear how important this issue is to us as a college. 

We are fully committed to becoming a leading low carbon and sustainable organisation, playing an active role in delivering positive climate change outcomes, as set out in the recently published Regional Outcome Agreement 2018/21

Our journey to carbon reduction has already seen us reduce our emissions by 26% in 2016/17 from the levels we were at in 2013/14, and we are hoping to see even greater reductions by 2017/18. We have also introduced a new sustainability module and implemented a range of other sustainability initiatives across our campuses.

Projects undertaken so far have included boiler replacements and upgrading to LED light units while other initiatives such as our unique eco-friendly hairdressing salon have also played a big part.     

Other projects include a recent collaboration with Italian Heat Pump company, Clivet, on an Ecohouse project that will use their innovative heat pump systems to demonstrate and teach the theory and practice to our students. 

The Ecohouse will also be used to demonstrate the system to possible users, builders, and local councils, so that they have a chance to see it in operation in a ‘real’ house.

These are terrific achievements, and well done to everyone who has played their part so far. But there is still more to do. 

The next round of improvements will see us concentrate more on behavioural change, a new way of looking at how we do things so that we take climate change, sustainability and carbon reduction into account with the everyday decisions we make.

We are in a fantastic position to lead the way on sustainability in the region.  With nearly 1,000 staff and 7,000 students we have an opportunity to influence behaviour far beyond our own campuses. The good habits around sustainability that our students pick up during their time with us can be habits that last a lifetime.

As part of this, the Fife College Students’ Association (FCSA) have produced a list of sustainability commitments that will be implemented as part of a three-year plan while there will also be a number of new initiatives announced throughout this academic year that all staff and students can get involved in.

If you have any ideas about how the college can engage more in sustainability and climate change, or any events that you would be interested in setting up, then please let me know and I will to do all I can to support. 

At Fife College we have a terrific opportunity to help the next generation understand the implications of climate change, and appreciate the behavioural changes required to make the world a better place for generations to come. 

Let’s take that opportunity and make a difference!