05 December 2016
Students at the University of Birmingham have made 2016 the year of green living by moving into a new ‘Green Community’.
The accommodation is a specially developed sustainable living section of the Vale Village complex in Edgbaston – and 184 students have moved in.
The Green Community, part of Tennis Court on the Vale Village, is a development of student flats incorporating a number of eco-friendly features, including solar panels on the roof, water-saving timers on showers, a social room, and a safe and secure bike area.
Outside, a large open space has been planted with wild flowers, ‘green walls’ have been established, communal areas developed, including a barbecue area, and bird boxes and insect homes installed to encourage biodiversity.
The establishment of the Green Community took place after discussions with students about their experience of living in student accommodation.
Many said that sustainability was important to them and they would welcome the introduction of more sustainable practices and features.
They also liked the idea of encouraging likeminded students to live together, to give a real impetus and focus to future ‘green’ activities and help them learn important life skills, as well as leaving a legacy for future students.
Student feedback led to a collaboration with ‘Project Up’ from Groundwork, the community charity, which turns reclaimed materials into unique ‘upcycled’ furniture, along with restoring vintage pieces.
The Project Up team has designed, built and installed all the furniture for the community’s social room and provided outdoor seating, signage and bird boxes.
Using a wide range of salvaged materials, reclaimed timber, scaffold poles and fabric offcuts. Project Up has created a practical and engaging space that will be a vibrant home for the new community.
"We used upcycled materials throughout the social room in the hope that it will make students look at waste differently,” said Project Up project manager Jon Hutchinson.
“Upcycling is one of the most creative design processes you can go through. It makes you look at the intrinsic value of materials as well as thinking about the journey it has been on to get to you.”
Matt Beveridge, from the university’s Environmental Services Team, outlined the aim of the Green Community as, “raising environmental awareness, promoting behavioural change and empowering residents to be more community driven,” and said that the Groundwork project was a perfect example of this.
He added: “The use of upcycled furniture is a growing trend, and it’s clearly something that appeals to students aged 18-24, which is why we were so keen to work with Jon and his team at Project Up.”
University of Birmingham Policy and Environmental Services Manager, Peter Larkin, said the Green Community concept extended beyond the accommodation itself.
“The key is not just a sustainable living environment but mindful living,” he said.
“We hope students really take on the sustainable, caring and community-focused ethos while they live here and carry it forward when they move out and live in the community in Selly Oak and beyond.
“If successful, we’d like to embed this approach to living across all of our residences, again encouraging students to come forward with their own ideas and initiatives.”
For more information, please contact Press Office, University of Birmingham, 0121 415 8134 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured: Matt Beveridge (deputy Manager - contracts and engagement, Hospitality and accommodation services at University of Birmingham) and Jon Hutchinson (Project UP Project Manager at Groundwork)