VIP - Carers' Centre Carbon Reduction Journey - The Journey So Far

Posted in: Extra-curricular activities, Vertically Integrated Projects

Hello everyone. Hope you've had a good academic year so far. We are Ekene Okoye, 4th-year Chemical Engineering student, and  Maksims Parahonko, a 1st-year Civil Engineering student. This is the first blog post for our Carers' Centre Carbon Reduction Journey Vertically Integrated Project (VIP), through which we'll share with you some insights on our experiences so far.


Our VIP's Goals

Vertically Integrated Projects (VIPs) are collaborative research-based and applied projects carried out by small teams of students and staff of different levels and disciplines. They are an opportunity to make lasting connections, innovate, and contribute to solving long-term real-world issues. They are typically in line with United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our VIP's goal is to support the Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) Carers' Centre in creating a carbon reduction commitment outline, identifying their carbon emissions, and to provide recommendations for the development of their a carbon management plan, which will take scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions into consideration. This will allow them to operate in line the BANES Council's 2030 net-zero carbon commitment.


Team Building

Our Academic supervisors are Visiting Industrial Fellow, Brian Rutter, of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Professor Steve Cayzer, Professor of Climate Education. Our project supervisors are Amy Childe and Katie Gilham, Student Success Officers, and members of the VIP staff group.

The supervisors are the team champions (members of staff with overall responsibility), with the addition of Associate ProfessorFulvio Pinto of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. 

Brian, who is also the academic director of the project, provided a framework for the team to understand and call to mind what makes an effective team. Following up, we split the team up into different roles pertaining to what we could generally observe of each members interests and strengths. We started off as a team of 11 students and staff, with 2 more core members joining in the first few weeks.


Carers' Centre Visit

A few weeks ago we visited the Carer's Centre and had a meeting with the CEO Jacqui Orchard where we were given an introduction to the charity alongside what they do and the services they provide. In the meeting we discussed the current state of unpaid carers support in the area finding out there are over 19000 unpaid carers in BANES with ages ranging from 5 to 94 and around 3000 young carers (5-16). We also found out that the Carer's building was grade 2 listed which comes with many restrictions in regards to renovation and that there was a previous carbon report on the building which we later obtained. As a group we found the meeting surprising and insightful giving us a greater understanding of the task ahead.


Divide and Conquer

To achieve our goal we are looking into how the overall efficiency of the centre's operation could be optimised. This includes retaining its service quality and whilst addressing wider sustainability issues. Ultimately we aim to deliver a report, by September 2024, detailing recommendations based on our findings, analyses, and a framework for the centre's carbon reduction. So far, the project has been split into two main activities with associated teams: research of avenues for decreasing carbon emissions relating to the centre's service delivery, led by Faye Sanders, a 1st-year PhD student of the Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems CDT, and those relating to the site/building of the centre itself, Led by Reem Ghazali, a 5th-year Architecture student. Our 3rd student team leader, making sure everyone is on track and up to speed, is Freddie Appleton, Masters student of the School of Management.


Collecting Data

Research relating to the centre's service delivery currently involves making measurements and gathering data through development of a carefully curated and ethically compliant questionnaire, which encompasses socio-demographic information relating to carers, staff, and volunteers, to generate summary statistics on which recommendations can be based. Research relating to the building involves primarily measuring potential energy inefficiencies on the site and potential changes that could be made to improve on them, or the potential for retrofitting with new technology to reduce the centre's energy demand in the long term. Its key considerations include costs and potential funding, the sites heritage status, the viability of implementing said technologies, and the environmental impacts its current technologies and the potential replacement/additional solutions.


Ekene, How Have You Found It So Far?

It's been interesting so far. The team is full of cool people and the project itself has an agreeable cause; we are encouraged to think freely, with the overarching guidance of the supervisors to keep us coordinated; and it's one way of applying my garnered academic knowledge to a tangible project, beyond those specific to my course. it has also been intriguing and a bit refreshing to speak with and learn from teammates of various different disciplines, seeing what comes to each person's mind when considering potential solutions to problems.


Maksims, How Have You Found It So Far?

Overall the experience has been great. This is the first time I'm doing anything similar to this and it’s been a great opportunity to interact with and listen to the different perspectives of students in other years and subjects. The entire team is welcoming and doesn’t force people into situations very are uncomfortable in which really helps in building individual confidence and trust. I can't wait to see what's in store for the future and the progress we make during the VIP project.


Posted in: Extra-curricular activities, Vertically Integrated Projects


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