Wednesday, 05 February 2014
The University of Worcester Students’ Union will be officially launching their enterprising ‘Energize Worcester’ project as part of Go Green Week next week.
The project, which won funding from the National Union of Students’ (NUS) Student Green Fund, will work in co-operation with students, landlords and Worcester City Council to retrofit student houses to improve housing standards and conditions, and tackle poor energy efficiency.
Energize Worcester is looking to build on the Student Switch Off project, an NUS model which the University of Worcester ran for six years to teach good energy habits to students living in halls of residence. The current project will embed this behaviour even further – ensuring students continue to be energy aware as they move into off-campus accommodation after their first year of study.
Kynton Swingle, President of the Students’ Union, explains: “It is nationally recognised that students are in fuel debt, with the amount of money they pay for their energy bills being disproportionate to their income.
“This means it’s even more important for students to understand their energy use so that when they are responsible for paying their own bills, they’ll have good energy habits which they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives.”
Ahead of next week’s launch, students are now being encouraged to sign up to Energize Worcester to share tips and learn good energy habits. The theme of the campaign throughout Go Green Week is ‘how low can you go’, with students invited to limbo dance to symbolise their commitment to driving down their energy bills.
Since being awarded funding in September, the Students’ Union has conducted extensive preparations to ensure the success of the project, including developing ‘live’ project opportunities, training students as accredited energy advocates and building bespoke software for energy consumption analysis.
One of the live projects saw Digital Media students work on the creative strategy for Energize Worcester, as Project Manager Peng Li explains: “We have worked with creative students who have devised the look of the project.
“Five student teams of five worked on a 24-hour project, and the winning designs were awarded a cash prize. The quality was remarkable and we thank all the teams for their creative contributions.”
Rosa Kennard, a second year Psychology student, is one of those to be trained up as an energy advocate as part of the project. She says: “The training was very interesting and I learned a lot from it.
“It led me to do more research and gave me a more rounded view on the topic as a whole, so I’m now able to carry out the role with a high level of professionalism and deliver knowledge to the best of my ability.”
Energize Worcester is also working closely with landlords who are renting properties to University students, supporting them in making their properties more energy efficient, and is being backed by the National Landlords’ Association (NLA).
Don Robbie, NLA Local Representative in the West Midlands, says: “Making sure that private rental accommodation is as energy efficient as possible isn’t just about sustainability; it’s a core priority for landlords in meeting the needs of their tenants.
“An increasing number of landlords are switching on to the benefits of offering higher quality housing stock. It’s a question of consumer demand, and landlords in an increasingly competitive market are becoming wise to the fact that students are looking for lower bills and warmer homes.
He adds: “As awareness about energy conservation increases, more and more tenants are asking to see Energy Performance Certificates and will discuss the energy efficiency of homes before they agree to rent.”
Energize Worcester be active on campus throughout Go Green Week (10 – 14 February). For more information, visit www.energize-worcester.com, like ‘Energize Worcester’ on Facebook or follow live twitter updates @energizeworc.