Friday, 5 February 2010

UCL Goes Green....or at least it's trying

The wonderful thing about working at UCL, and probably any university, is that there's always something going on. The front quad in recent years and months has been home to countless goings on.

In July of last year you'd have found a psychedelic kangaroo gracing the quad, a clever ploy by an Aussie travel company to promote Kangaroo Island in Southern Australia.

In October last year a Routemaster bus took up residence in the quad, containing a precious relic from the UCL museum archives. Anyone and everyone was invited to come and see it at it's unveiling, no matter their professional or academic background, the idea being that a unique network of knowledge and information would build up around the object with everyone viewing it from their own perspectives.

March 2008 saw Girls Aloud draping themselves across the UCL Portico in filming a Kit Kat advert...oh the glamour.

Not to mention the hundreds of student graduation receptions that have been held on the infamous UCL Portico.

This week I returned from a sneaky pub lunch to find a student campaign in full swing in the front quad. This was a week-long Go Green Campaign being held by the UCLU Environmental and Ethics Forum. The microphone they were using was being powered by a bicycle hooked up to a generator, so some of the poor people were having to cycle whist delivering their green messages.

Amongst stalls from the likes of Friends of the Earth and Camp for Climate Change, UCL Estates and Facilities Division lurked, with their lovely electric vans! That was my boss Bruce, then Tony and Shane from EFD.

UCL has relatively recently embarked upon an energy saving mission. I've mentioned in a previous post that we have signed up to 10:10, an initiative to cut the UK's carbon emissions by 10% in 2010. UCL personally has a more modest target of cutting its own emissions by 10% by 2013.

Unfortunately, saving energy at UCL is going to involve a serious change in culture, but I believe this is indicative of many large organisations, and indeed the UK in general. People don't bother because they consider that their individual efforts will be useless in the grand scheme of things....

....well....of course they will if EVERYONE thinks like that. It needs to be hammered in so that we can all work towards the same goal. Turn the lights off behind you, don't leave your computer on overnight, don't leave your aircon on you DON'T need 3 electric heaters, it's the height of summer!!....

UCL have employed some of their green tools already, check out these babies!!

Believe it or not, this little widget actually charges from a normal 13amp socket. You just plug it in like a mobile phone. I think I want one, EFD will have to watch their fleet carefully when I'm around.

This one needs a bit more, but is still electric. Apparently it achieves a max of about 50mph, but it accelerates like it's got a rocket up its bum. Handy cup holders too.

And look at theeeese....

I've heard a few people comment that noone will know what landfill is, but I (perhaps naiively) like to think that the student body is clever enough to realise what that means. I initially wondered why EFD chose to use the term landfill,I've come to the conclusion that 'landfill' has negative connotations. We all know that landfill = bad, and so hopefully it will act as a deterrent to too much recyclable waste being thrown in that bin.

Only time will tell if they work. I have my fingers crossed.

We've also joined EcoCampus, an environmental management system that allows universities to be recognised for addressing environmenal sustainability issues.....woo. UCL is currently in the initial bronze phase.

All good stuff I think, steps in the right direction.

I have to leave you with some greatness. As I wandered up to the Go Green Campaign marquee, I was just in time to hear a young chap named Danny Chivers delivering some 'slam poetry' (what IS that? Gawd...I feel old). I believe he specialises in politics and sarcasm, this particular gem is entitled 'Risk Assessment' and deals with the problems of bumblebees, sex, and the UK anti-terrorism laws that have been bastardised and exploited to excuse the breach of quite a few human rights:

I used to like bees
I'd watch them bumbling through the leaves
And hum along with their good vibrations
Until I learned that they killed more people last year than THE TERRORISTS did.
Now I write letters to the Daily Mail
Demanding strict border controls on the entrances to hives
And random police raids on patches of lavender.

Which makes about as much sense
As our attempts
At a notional national defence
Against a terrorist threat
About as dangerous as stepping outside in the wet
(Pneumonia is Britain's fifth biggest killer)

I almost feel a kind of pride
In our innocence and trust as we're all taken for a ride
On the paranoia bus with the
Bullet-proof windows firmly closed and every steel door secure
Glancing at the dark-skinned people outside.

Mount Snowden kills as many people as terrorism
So let's drag it down to Belmarsh
Hold it without trial for 42 days
Til it confesses to conspiring to undermine our British way
Of life.
Whatever that is.

More people are killed by taking the wrong pills than by terrorist attacks
Which means the money that's planned for ID cards, armed guards, putting people behind bars without charge
Would save more lives if spent instead on
Better-labelled jars.

You're more likely to be killed by a rare disease
Or win the national lottery
You're more likely to be killed by a hernia
You're more likely to be killed by your furniture

You're more likely to be done over by your lover
To meet your end at the hands of a friend
You're more likely to commit suicide yourself
Than be killed by the suicide of somebody else.

And stress kills thousands every year
So – an ironic twist –
You're more likely to be killed by the fear of terrorism
Than by a terrorist.

So how to explain this?
Our government's obsessed
An endless war against a risk
Not properly assessed

For which they need broader state powers to watch you at all hours, CCTV, ID – they don't mean to intrude, but could you include an ample selection of bodily samples? – longer detention, not to mention the need to obtain evidence mysteriously from overseas but let them explain: it doesn't count as torture if somebody elsewhere is doing it for ya, same as having your phone tapped by some information vandal isn't really a scandal because civil liberties must be balanced against the need for greater security, surely you don't really need that jury, with so many new offences in store there's bound to be one or more made just for you, even if you only meant to create peaceful dissent against society's ills, you'll still find yourself on the line out front in a new witch hunt during open season…

But it's definitely all about terror and you'd be making a grave error bordering on treason to suggest that they might want these powers for any other reason.


I won't be gagged, or tagged and numbered
Won't have my genes and eyeballs plundered
At my own expense for a defence that won't work against a threat that couldn't get much smaller,
They won't get my photograph, my details, my age
(So long as they don't log onto my Facebook page)
And when they show up for me
I won't go quietly
I'll tell them to go out and fight the real enemy
Because sex kills more people than terrorism
And so does pregnancy
So let's drop the terror cops
And swap
The thought police for the sex police.

I bet they'll have much better uniforms.

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