College group is first in the Tees Valley to achieve carbon neutrality

Green efforts have proven top class for the colleges that make up the Education Training Collective (Etc.).

Now, after working hard to offset its carbon footprint, the group has achieved certified “carbon neutrality” – the first college in the Tees Valley to achieve this.

Since receiving the Investors in the Environment Silver Standard in July 2021, staff and students across the group have continued to step up their efforts.

Group-wide measures such as the procurement of electricity from 100% green sources to a dramatic reduction in wastepaper, are all having a positive impact.

Phil Hastie

Phil Hastie, group executive director – planning and infrastructure at the Etc. said: “Achieving carbon neutral status is just another step on our green journey and is something to be truly celebrated, however what is more important to recognise is the work that has gone into getting us to this point and the work that will continue going forward.”

Through work with Carbon Neutral Britain, the UK’s Carbon Offsetting Initiative which provides support to British organisations making an impact on climate change, the group has provided financial support to projects in the renewables sector, offsetting its carbon footprint of 696tCO2e, and as a result achieving certified carbon neutral status for the last academic year.

The Etc., which comprises Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training, Redcar and Cleveland College, Stockton Riverside College and The Skills Academy, acknowledges it has a continued responsibility to improve sustainability and has committed to recognising and seeking to reduce the impact it has on the environment, and to enable staff and students to do the same.

The group established a Green Initiatives Group (GIG), made up of more than 30 volunteers from across the colleges, to create focused action plans on areas such as staff and student engagement, waste energy, procurement and travel.

A recently introduced Environment Award at the group’s annual staff awards, is also putting a spotlight on those departments making the most significant impact on the environment in the last academic year.

Phil said: “Through engaging staff and students in understanding and improving the impact we have on the environment as a group of colleges and as individuals, we are seeing vast improvements in the ways we are working, our paper and utility usage, our travel to and from sites, even down to the promotional items we give out at our open events – so getting to this point is the result of a real group effort.”

The college group is now looking to continue along the green path it has paved out, with future plans including a carshare programme for staff, litter picks for staff and students in addition to a commitment to a 2% annual reduction in resource use which, along with further monitoring and reporting of activities, will ultimately lead to the group securing the Investors in the Environment Green award.

Mark White, chair of the Etc. governing board said: “We all have a role to play in helping to protect the future of our planet, that is why the sustainability agenda is a priority to us as a college group. To now be among those leading the way in our efforts is an incredible achievement and testament not just to the group but to every individual who is playing their part. But the work does not stop there, there is much more to be done and we look forward to continuing our green journey.”

Steve Frampton, FE/HE climate commissioner and chair of AoC Services Board, said: “This is a fantastic achievement, particularly coming ahead of the Department for Education’s Climate Change and Sustainability Strategy published this week. The result of hard work and commitment by everyone involved, it shows what can be achieved and should be an inspiration to others.”