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Big Green Week (feature published in University Business December Issue)

The University of Leicester have been supporting energy saving week and pledging their commitment to reduce their carbon emissions this month by staging it’s biggest ever environmental festival – The Big Green Week 2010.

Held over the 25-31st October, Big Green Week was a festival of events to show the University’s support to the Government’s aim of reducing the UK emissions of CO2 by 60 percent.

Although it carried a serious message, Big Green Week was a fun and friendly event, intending to bring people together behind the cause. The main message was sustainability, be it in eating or travelling, or even in the home.

The main exhibit was the Carbon Cube, a 8.24m³ cube of scaffolding and mesh representing the space taken up by a metric ton of CO2, on view at the heart of campus. The Carbon Cube was a life-size monument of the amount of the stuff we pump into the atmosphere.

Environmental Manager, Dr Emma Fieldhouse commented that reactions to the exhibit were polarised: “many people were impressed with the visual representation of the tonne of carbon dioxide and others appeared to not want to know what their own impacts could be.”

Visitors to the Carbon Cube were encouraged to take part in a carbon footprint calculation, with every participants name entered into a prize draw to potentially win one of a range of prizes. There were five carbon footprint stations around campus for the week, the most notable being the mobile rickshaw darting around the campus.

Each day of the week had a different theme, beginning with Monday’s ‘use less energy’. Kicking off the week was a debate on climate change. Tuesday and Wednesday’s eating and travelling sustainability events included a local food fayre and a bicycle workshop. Thursday focused on recycling, but the main event was to culminate on the Friday.

Students and visitors came together to spell UoL Goes Green in Victoria Park. Setting people up in formation, the message could be read from roofs and this year the Big Green Statement was intended to be bigger and more powerful than any made previously.

Every day the Big Switch Off was set up at 6pm, for people to come and pledge to switch of as many appliances as possible with the aim of saving not just the environment, but also the climate. Around the Big Green Week 2007 there was a massive reduction in electricity use, with the University itself estimating its saving at £60,000. This year they continued to encourage all visitors to get behind this scheme and help attain even more fantastic results.

Running throughout the week was the open air photography exhibition, Hard Rain. Viewed by at least 15 million people in over 100 venues worldwide, this is Mark Edwards’ photographic illustration of the Bob Dylan song ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’. On Wednesday the 27th Mark himself performed a presentation for free of his famous exhibit.

Environmental groups applauded the work done that week, which was sponsored by the WWF. A spokesperson for the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges stated: “the EAUC fully supports the work that Leicester do and is excited by the innovative approach.”

 

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