Author : Estelle De Bruyn (2018-2019 SAP Project Coordinator and author of the SAP Energy handbook), Julia Wagner (SAP Training Coordinator, SiC Newsletter Manager, Tips & Tricks Page)
The Student Ambassador Program (SAP) aims to implement sustainable practices in the cultural sector by involving student ambassadors. The topic can sometimes be difficult to broach: people generally do not know where to begin. The SAP puts the power in the hands of conservation students. We re-designed the SAP material and the training structure in 2018. As we have completed the first year of the new SAP, we would like to share all the exciting challenges that were achieved.
The SAP material
The last academic year was devoted to the topic of “Energy”: the Student Ambassadors focused on the energy consumption of their workplaces, assessing their situation and recording their progress using a Self-Assessment tool. Thanks to the “Green Challenges” described in the SAP ENERGY handbook, which is a step-by-step guide (available to the ambassadors on the SiC website), the students were made aware of their profession’s environmental impact and encouraged to instill sustainable habits that will hopefully carry over into the professional sector. Sharing their successes on social media, the student ambassadors helped build an international database showing sustainable practices with real applications. You can find all their posts on the SiC social media (@SiConservation on Facebook and @SiConserve on Twitter and Instagram).
Presentation of the SAP Energy Handbook:
The Student Ambassadors
The SAP ENERGY brought together students from nine universities in Europe, who began a sustainable transition in their workplaces (see the map here). The online meetings were an occasion to discuss the challenges that the student ambassadors faced, but also to share tips and successes with others. Besides their inspiring posts on social media (Fig. 2, 3, 4), some student ambassadors shared their stories through blogs that are available on the SiC website. We suggest you have a look!
The Self-Assessment Tool
In order to quantify progress made throughout the year, the self-assessment form was filled in twice, once before and once after implementation of the Green Challenges provided in the handbook. It gave student ambassadors a snapshot of the energy consumed in their workplace by assessing their devices’ electricity consumption and their colleagues’ practices.
Among the nine participating universities, six filled in the self-assessment at the beginning and the end of the year. Their average score exposed the most common areas to improve, such as knowledge of energy consumption levels, criteria for the selection of lighting systems and whether local lighting is used instead of lighting the whole work space.
Moreover, the use of signage to remind colleagues to switch off lights as well as systems to facilitate disconnection of devices were not common. Simultaneously, insight into well established sustainable habits was gained, for instance awareness of alternative transport options, availability of infrastructure to promote cycling and computers and printers being configured to switch to stand-by mode after a certain period of inactivity.
By implementing the challenges from the handbook, the score for all areas improved (Fig. 5), with the largest change noticed in regard to use of local lighting rather than lighting an entire room, the use of signs to remind colleagues to switch off lights but also the use of natural light (Fig. 6 & 7). Despite considerable improvement to the establishment of lighting criteria, knowledge of energy consumption levels and systems to facilitate disconnection of devices, there is still room for improvement in these categories.
We were astonished at the work achieved by the student ambassadors and their unfailing motivation through the whole year, while they had to take on the workload of their studies at the same time. The resources developed for the SAP Energy have been useful to inspire the student ambassadors and to quantify their progress. We really appreciated the online meetings during which the student ambassadors shared their stories: they were the perfect occasion to discuss everyone’s concerns and successes.
With the help of feedback from student ambassadors regarding the changes most difficult to put into practice, SiC aims to develop the program and ways to further support students with their tasks as well as to advance solutions in problem areas. Aside from feedback regarding the program, student ambassadors communicate their own creative solutions to situations particular to their university, such as switching locations of existing LED lamps to areas in which local lighting is used most often. The establishment of communication platforms such as a Facebook group but also on the SiC website promotes sharing of ideas as well as other content created by the ambassadors such as promotional material on the topic of energy consumption, which in turn can be used by other students.
Since October 2019, SiC has launched the second SAP edition, MATERIALS & WASTE. It follows the same structure as the SAP ENERGY, with an emphasis on the students’ communication through social media. A webinar on how to share those successes on social media will be organised to provide the student ambassadors with the means to spread sustainable practices throughout the world.
We would like to thank all the student ambassadors and their teams who took part in SAP ENERGY:
Eleanor, Katrine (Cardiff University, UK), Valérie, Barbara, Besnike, Clémence (ENSAV La Cambre, BE), Echo, Marina, Andrea, Charlotte (University of Glasgow, UK), Karoline, Mari, Anna (University of Oslo, NO), Eveline (University of Antwerp, BE), Inès (Haute Ecole Arc, CH), Jasmine, Heleen (University of Amsterdam, NL), Jolanta (University of Camberwell, UK), Lidia (Academy of Fine Arts Stuttgart, DE).
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