Borders College unveils new green strategy

A Scottish college where students are kept warm by a pioneering system using heat from local sewers has laid out new green plans to help protect the planet.

Principal Angela Cox is pictured surrounded by solar panels on the roof of Borders college, ahead of launching the institution's ambitious new sustainability strategy

Borders College, which has campuses in Galashiels, Hawick, Newtown St Boswells and Tweedbank, has pledged to put environmental concerns at the core of everything it does as it unveils its new sustainability strategy for the next five years.

Intentions include slashing carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2025, massively increasing recycling rates and encouraging staff to walk, cycle and use public transport to reduce car use.

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New courses are also being developed to provide skills for work in the emerging green economy.

Borders College has won prizes for its innovative SHARC heat-recovery system, which extracts natural warmth contained in waste water from the local sewage network and uses it to heat campus buildings

According to the college, “sustainability will shape and drive everything that happens here – what we teach, what we learn, what we buy, what we use, what we share, how we travel”.

Four key objectives underpin the new strategy, which is geared towards achieving Scotland’s 2045 net-zero climate goal.

These are: implement sustainable sector practice in all learning programmes; influence positive sustainable behaviours across the wider community; adopt best ethical, sustainable and social practices in operations and the supply chain; and promote sustainable innovation and adoption of technological breakthroughs with employers and stakeholders.

The strategy was unveiled at a special launch event, hosted by college principal Angela Cox.

She said: “To achieve our strategy, sustainability at Borders College will be at the core of who we are and what we do.

“It will shape and drive everything that happens here.

“We are ambitious to be national leaders and role models in the education and adoption of sustainable practice.”

The plan has been welcomed by further education and science minister Richard Lochhead, who took part in the launch event.

He said: “Our journey to net zero will require all parts of Scottish society to embrace the transformation required to meet our ambitious targets, and this strategy highlights the key role colleges can play in leading the changes needed in order for us to meet these targets.”

Borders college has already made significant progress towards cutting its impact on the environment.

The establishment has won prizes for its innovative SHARC Energy Systems revolutionary heat-recovery system, which extracts the natural warmth contained in waste water from the local sewage network and uses it to heat buildings.

The system now provides around 95 per cent of the heat needed by the Galashiels campus and does not impact on the normal operation of the local waste water network.

Ms Cox added: “We have developed our strategy from strong foundations.

“It is through our agile and innovative practice that has led us to have a 34 per cent reduction in our carbon footprint over the last four years, but we know we will achieve a greater impact if we work in partnership, across multiple aspects of sustainability.”

Borders College was formed in 1984 by the amalgamation of Galashiels Technical College, Henderson Technical College (Hawick), Duns Agricultural Centre and the Agricultural Centre, Newtown St Boswells.

In addition to the main campuses, it has a number of community-based learning facilities throughout the Borders.

These offer specific courses designed to meet the needs of local businesses and their workforce as well as educational opportunities to individuals through a wide range of part-time day and evening courses.

Delivery of the new sustainability strategy will be supported by a host of operational moves over the next five years.

These include creating a biodiversity assessment and action plan, increasing recycling rates by 80 per cent and ensuring at least half of all staff and student journeys are made on foot, by public transport or via other eco-friendly means.

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