ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITTEE CHAIRPERSON’S REPORT AY 2006/07 (REPORT No 8)
1. Chairperson’s personal comments
3. The year’s activities and achievements
5. Interaction with management
6. Proposals for management
1. Chairperson’s personal comments
This report covers the period July 2006 to July 2007.
As I am retiring shortly, I will necessarily cease to be Chair of this Committee. I was
surprised, on checking, to find that I have had this position for five years. It has been
a period of many challenges and some small achievements. I would like to thank the
many Committee members who helped in achieving the latter. I would particularly
like to express my thanks and appreciation to Patricia Conlan, Committee secretary
during these years and previously the Chair. I would like to give my best wishes to
Colin Fitzpatrick and Muireann McMahon, incoming chair and secretary respectively.
Both have shown their commitment and enthusiasm since they joined the Committee
and I have every confidence that their energy and initiative (and youth!) will bode
well for the future…. The new political climate with Green Party Cabinet Ministers
together with personnel changes in UL management may help to facilitate their work.
I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Don Barry on his recent
appointment as President, to wish him well for his period in office and to hope for a
constructive working relationship with the Committee.
Colin Fitzpatrick took agreed to take on the duties of Chair for the next year and
Muireann McMahon volunteered to be Secretary until January.
Representing Campbells Catering, Delphine Blanchett replaced Colette Ryan who left
to a new career elsewhere. We wish her well.
Michell McAuley replaced Aine O’Malley, Plassey Village.
Paul Butler, Brian Considine, Tom Harrington, Vincent Warfield, Martin Leahy, JJ
Leahy, Toshko Zhelev and Clare Langford continued as members. Angus Mitchell Pat
Stephens and Caoilfhionn NiBheachain have joined.
Maja Niebrzegowska’s replacement as representative of the Postgraduate Student Association is Emma Murphy. Patrick McHugh replaced Alannah Turner as SU representative. Thanks and best wishes to both outgoing student reps.
Thanks are again due to Eugene Benilov who has continued as before to update the website, promptly and efficiently, on request.
3. Activities and achievements
Following the success of the Committee’s award winning 2006 desktop calendar, Muireann McMahon led a small team to gather feedback on the original and produce the 2007 version. The theme this time was the river Shannon; and the result again a high quality product with first class art work which has been well received by the campus community. My thanks to Muireann, the sponsors, the design team and photographers.
Following our meeting with the new President, a formal query was sent regarding the status of our budget of ?5 000 – whether this was a ‘once off’ or annual sum. I am
pleased to report that it has been confirmed to be an annual budget.
The EPA funded Local Authority Prevention Demonstration (LAPD) programme, which was first reported in last year’s Annual Report, is in full flight with the subgroup meeting on a regular basis and with Nicola Hogan, postgraduate student, working on this full time. Audits of paper and other waste streams have been carried out. A staggering 42 million sheets of A4 paper are used annually in UL with related financial and environmental costs. A proposal was successfully brought to Deans Council to recommend that all student coursework be submitted double sided. It is expected that double sided printing and photocopying will easily enable us to reach the target of 20% reduction in paper use.
On the matter of the proposed Environmental Policy which has been redrafted several times, Don has agreed that he will look the policy and its status. An article in the thGuardian on 17 August discusses a recent ‘league table’ of UK Universities, which
ranks and compares their environmental performance. The first of eight criteria asks if there is a publicly available environmental policy…
The costs of energy as well as the related environmental issues imply that this area is one deserving of close attention. The Limerick Clare Energy Agency, which is now present on campus, is a resource which should be utilised. The Charles Parsons initiative is a further indication of the increasing concern nationally regarding energy and sustainability issues. The recent establishment of BRE Ireland and its relationship with UL will surely focus attention more closely on energy use in campus buildings. For some years this Committee has been advocating the employment of an Energy Manager. It is hoped that an appointment may be made in the near future.
In a new initiative this year, a poster competition based on student Final Year Projects was organised. Although there were a relatively low number of entries, it is felt that
this is a useful way to increase environmental awareness among the student body and that with changes to the timing and organisation this could be more successful in future. Again, Muireann played a major role in this with support from Toshko.
Although there has been a car-pooling facility on the Committee website, this has never been widely used. Surveys carried out by Buildings consistently show that most cars coming in to campus in the morning have only one occupant. Apart from the environmental issues arising from this, no-one needs reminding of the increased problems in finding a place to park in the morning. In an attempt to encourage people to car pool, a proposal has been drawn up and discussions held with a number of groups – Amicus, SU, VP Finance and VP A&R. In brief, this proposal is to retain
the Lonsdale Car Park for cars with more than one occupant. Colin has been instrumental in this initiative with support for Clare and myself. We hope that something can be put in place in the coming semester.
A number of films with an environmental theme were shown free of charge in evenings during the year. The first of these was ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. We were
gratified to find that the number of people wishing to see the film was far greater than the John Holland Theatre could hold and a second showing had to be organised. This fact, together with the enthusiastic participation in the panel discussion following the film, indicates that students are far from apathetic in these matters. We intend, in cooperation with the Arts Officer, to put together a further series of films for the coming year. Thanks to Angus and Paul for their efforts on this.
Although the possibility had been discussed in the past, towards the beginning of 2007, the idea of having UL designated a ‘Fair Trade’ University was given serious consideration. To do so would require that Campbells Catering make Fair Trade Coffee available in all their outlets. To this end, Paul and myself met with Catherine Murphy of Campbells and Linda Stevens. A recent communication from Catherine assures us that they are fully committed to the introduction of Fair Trade on campus and expect to schedule a programme for this for the coming semester.
4. Sub groups
The operation of the Committee has changed somewhat. As before, there are plenary meetings of the full committee every four weeks or so with meetings of subgroups which report to the full Committee. However, rather than dealing with general themes such as Energy, Waste etc, these subgroups are now formed to deal with particular issues or tasks such as the Calendar, carpooling proposal etc.
5. Interaction with Management
During the Presidency of Roger Downer, it had been agreed that representatives of the committee would meet with Management once per semester. This arrangement was suspended during the ‘interregnum’ following Roger’s retirement. When Don Barry was appointed, a meeting was sought, the record of which appears below. It is hoped that the twice-yearly meetings will now resume.
Environmental Committee: meeting with president, Professor D. Barry 25.6.2008
Present: Don Barry, Tony Kay, Colin Fitzpatrick, Patricia Conlan
Tony explained the genesis of the Committee; that it had been set up by the previous
president, Roger Downer, at the initiative of Nancy Serrano, Junior. It has a mix of
student and staff membership, some of whom are ex officio, with a largely advisory
Colin gave a copy of the terms of reference to the president.
The modus operandi of the Committee is to meet in plenary session once a month and
for sub-groups/project groups to pursue focused activities and to feed back into the
full Committee. The Committee has met with the president (and the persons
responsible for finance and buildings/estate) once per semester, to exchange views on
activities in the intervening period.
Tony outlined some of the past actions/achievements: these included i.a.
Calendar 2006, 2007
Environmental awards from Limerick County Council (2 in 2006)
Signage (turn off lights)
Information – European car free days; energy awareness week, etc.
LAPD – paper reduction research funded by EPA, joint project with Limerick
County Council (hence request for support for double-sided printing in UL)
Carpooling (to reduce need for parking spaces) – on website
Student poster competitions
Student marketing competitions
Draft environmental policy (to be processed through Executive Committee)
Energy efficiency data – provided to Buildings/Estates – to support case for
energy manager and better assessment of energy efficiency of new buildings
Audit of elements of sustainability in modules in UL
Induction lectures for students and staff
Environmental information for inclusion in prospectus and conferring booklet
Environmental films series
Carpooling initiative; incentivising carpooling by reserving the Lonsdale car
park for car poolers. Colin will discuss with VPF.
Budget: annual renewal of budget (?5000). Tony to write and outline in brief
how first ?5000 used and to request that this be an annual sum as it allows for
planning. This will be given consideration by Don.
Don will look at the matter of the draft Environmental Policy and its status.
New buildings: specific study on energy use to be the norm.
6. Proposals for Management
Our aspirations, apart from continuing the activities mentioned above can be
We continue to encourage the appointment of an Energy Manager which we believe
would be self funding.
We ask management to facilitate the sharing of savings resulting from any particular
energy conservation project.
We hope that the Car-Pooling proposal is adopted
We ask that the Environmental Policy be adopted.
We hope that UL can become ‘Fair Trade’ University
We expect the University to continue to bring all possible influence to bear on local
authorities in seeking improvements to public transport services and infrastructure.