Students from five Cornish schools and colleges are learning about the commercial benefits of sustainability as they work as ‘green consultants’ for local businesses.
The students aged between 16 and 21 have started work on projects to find creative solutions to real-life sustainability questions to enable the businesses they’re working with to reduce their energy consumption and investigate renewable energy options.
The activity is part of the Schools for Intelligent Energy Use (SIEU) Project – a European project funded by Intelligent Energy Europe, with eleven partners across nine EU countries. The UK element of the programme is being delivered by Community Energy Plus, Cornwall’s leading charity delivering local solutions to fuel poverty, energy efficiency and renewable energy
Over the past eight weeks BTEC National Diploma Countryside students from Duchy College Stoke Climsland have been working with Deer Park Farm at Luckett, near Callington to investigate the energy consumption of the farmhouse, core farm buildings and holiday cottage complex and help the business identify areas where it can improve its energy efficiency through specific measures and behavioural change. The students have also been investigating the feasibility of the farm using a biomass boiler to provide heating and hot water for the buildings and utilise their own Miscanthus Energy Crop which is currently used for horse bedding.
Clare Langdon, Senior Project Officer at Community Energy Plus said: “I’ve been really impressed by the enthusiasm and sheer hard work that all of the students have put into the project so far. Cornwall is the very first area in the UK to roll out the SIEU programme so we’re really breaking new ground by bringing together schools, colleges and local business in a project that has massive potential to demonstrate how sustainability can be embedded across all areas of education.”
Duchy College Stoke Climsland lecturer Jurie Intachat said: “Our students are really enjoying the opportunity to get their teeth stuck into a real-life project that has the potential to help a local business not only be more sustainable but also save money and become a stronger business in the long-run. I’m confident that the skills they’re leaning now will help them to go far in their future careers.”
Martin Howlett, owner of Deer Park Farm said: “We were delighted to be involved in a project that enables us to strengthen our links with Duchy College. The students were extremely well prepared for their site visit and asked lots of questions to help them work though the energy question we set for them. I’m firmly committed to making my business more sustainable and am looking forward to hearing the students’ suggestions for improving the green credentials of our holiday cottages and what we can do to help us share our commitment to sustainability with our visitors.”
Through the SIEU project, the National Trust is receiving a helping hand from students from Cornwall College Camborne’s Renewable Energy Technologies Foundation Degree to investigate how they can use energy more efficiently and look into the potential of using renewable technologies at its holiday cottage complex at Cadgwith.
Alastair Cameron, Property Manager for the National Trust on The Lizard and Penrose said: “The National Trust is committed to reducing its carbon footprint across all areas of operation and we are pleased to be involved in the SIEU project to look at options for sustainable energy use in our holiday cottages at Cadgwith. We know from feedback at other properties that our visitors take an active interest in renewable energy technology so boosting the eco-credentials of our cottage complex on the Lizard will help us to engage our guests in the importance of sustainable living for a greener future.”
To create a response to the individual brief of their partnered business, the groups of students from five schools and colleges in Cornwall will work with energy experts drawn from sustainable energy businesses, the public sector and Community Energy Plus’s own team to gather information and develop reports which will be presented to their business ‘clients’ and fellow students at the end of March.