Your country’s air needs you!

“Everyone has a part to play in reducing air pollution that is killing as many as 50,000 people every year in the UK,” says Dr Kevin Wyche, lecturer on our Geography BA(Hons) course.

He was commenting on BBC Sussex Radio about latest figures showing pollution levels in parts of Brighton and Hove remain above EU and UK standards, and how London breached its limits for the entire year only a few days into 2017.

Dr Wyche, who with Dr Kirsty Smallbone launched a £250,000 advanced air quality monitoring station at Falmer in 2015, said reducing pollution was a complex issue: “It’s politically sensitive – should we ban all cars from city centres? It’s not politically favourable for a politician to say that.”

All of us, he said, has a part to play in cutting pollution: “We all like to use our cars and we all have gadgets at home which use electricity which comes from power stations which are pumping out all sorts of different gases and particles into the atmosphere.”

The Joaquin Advanced Air Quality Station (JAAQS), opened by Brighton MP Caroline Lucas, is the first in the UK which can detect harmful nano-sized particles and their gaseous precursors.

Dr Wyche expects to publish its first year’s findings from the station in the next few weeks and there are plans for UK’s first outreach programme taking their work into primary and secondary schools. A website on the station’s work is scheduled to be launched next month. Continue reading

Award win

Congratulations to Dr Susie Maidment, senior lecturer in our school, who received the Hodson Award at an awards ceremony this week from the Palaeontological Association.
The Hodson Award is presented to a palaeontologist within ten years of their PhD for notable contributions to the science.
The Palaeontological Association was founded in 1957 and has become one of the world’s leading learned societies in this field. The Association is a registered charity that promotes the study of palaeontology and its allied sciences through publication of original research and field guides, sponsorship of meetings and field excursions, provision of web resources and information and a program of annual awards.

Studying and socialising in our nationally recognised building

estates_cockcroft_aw_048The recent, multi-million pound project transforming the Cockcroft building into a state-of-the-art research, teaching and information building has been recognised in the prestigious Green Gown Awards for 2016.

Our university and the architects we worked with Fraser Brown MacKenna were named Finalist in the Built Environment category for what was one of the largest retrofits of an occupied academic building in the UK.

The transformation was described by judges as “an innovative approach integrating architectural, building services and structure design” which unlocked the environmental potential of the 10,500m2 building using the latest technology.

Innovations include an aquifer thermal energy store, potentially reducing energy demand, CO2 emissions and fuel savings. The system stores and recovers thermal energy beneath the ground and provides heating and cooling.

A spokesperson for the awards told the university: “On behalf of the Green Gown Awards Team we wanted to congratulate you on your achievement. Being a Green Gown Awards Finalist is something to be extremely proud of.”

Earlier this year the Cockcroft project won in the Higher Education category of the Architects’ Journal Retrofit Awards 2016. Judges called it a bold project and a model for future similar projects. Continue reading

£8m boost to green business growth in East Sussex

The University of Brighton’s Green Growth Platform and East Sussex County Council are launching an £8m-plus initiative to support the growth of green businesses.

The Low Carbon Across the South East (LoCASE) project is funded by the EU’s European Regional Development Fund and is a partnership between Kent County Council, East Sussex County Council, Essex County Council, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Thurrock Council and the University of Brighton. It will receive a total of £8.8 million to support business growth across Kent, Essex and East Sussex.

The programme will provide grants and business support to low carbon small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to help them grow and develop new products and services. It will also provide grants and free environmental audits to any type of SME to help improve their environmental performance, such as reducing energy costs or installing renewable energy systems.

The programme will also be providing support to the community energy sector, and will be developing renewable energy and low carbon projects across the county.
In East Sussex, the programme is open to SMEs which pay their business rates to Eastbourne Borough Council, Hastings Borough Council, Lewes District Council, Rother District Council and Wealden District Council.

Zoe Osmond, Director of the Green Growth Platform

Zoe Osmond, Director of the Green Growth Platform

Zoe Osmond, Director of the Green Growth Platform, said: “We are delighted to announce this funding for East Sussex businesses. It will make a significant contribution to business growth and innovation in the region, as well as help in reducing our environmental impact and moving us towards a low carbon economy.”
Businesses can find out more and register for the support by visiting the Green Growth Platform, emailing greengrowthplatform@brighton.ac.uk or calling the Green Growth Platform on 01273 641949.

An award winning dissertation

imogen-foxHuge congratulations to Imogen Fox, who has just graduated from our Geography BA(Hons) course for her award-winning dissertation!

Imogen’s dissertation on how she supported a friend with special needs won the Royal Geographical Society’s Social and Cultural Geography Research Groups Undergraduate Dissertation Award and £100 prize money. Titled ‘Meltdowns in the mud – a spatial, emotional and relationship approach to the experience of care in the micro-spatialities of Glastonbury Festival’ Imogen wrote an account of her experience in supporting her friend Rona when the pair attended the Glastonbury Festival this summer.

“I am in complete shock and disbelief about winning the prize,” said Imogen. “I feel extremely grateful for all the amazing support I received from both academic staff from my course at the university who have boosted my confidence in my own academic abilities and also my wonderful dyslexia tutor who kept me calm throughout the writing process.”

Imogen also praised the Sussex organisation which teamed her up with “my new close friend” Rona, Gig Buddies, which matches adults who have a learning disabilities to volunteers who have similar interests, to go to events together that they both love.

Imogen, now studying for her MSc in Social Work, said: “I question the word and activity of ‘care’ because that ‘care’ goes both ways and is often an act of friendship, thus defining mine and Rona’s relationship as a ‘muddy relationship’ which can be impacted upon differently in different spaces.”

British Science Festival heads for Brighton

british-science-festival-logoOne of Europe’s leading and longest established science festivals is coming to Brighton next year. And we will be co-hosting it!

The University of Brighton will co-host the 2017 British Science Festival with the University of Sussex from 5-8 September.

The festival, organised by the British Science Association, will have a programme of over 100 events featuring cutting-edge science from world-leading academics covering everything from technology and engineering to social sciences.

Welcoming the announcement, Vice-Chancellor Professor Debra Humphris said: “I am delighted that the University of Brighton will be co-hosting the British Science Festival next year. We were keen to grasp this wonderful opportunity to showcase our world-leading research alongside cutting-edge science from around the globe in an accessible and engaging way.

“The city of Brighton & Hove is world-renowned for its Arts Festival. By hosting the British Science Festival, we can throw open the doors of our facilities to the wider community, including our new state-of-the-art Advanced Engineering Building that is currently under construction.”

We’ll keep you posted as more details are confirmed, and hope to see you all there!

University building scoops top award

The project to refurbish the University of Brighton’s iconic Cockcroft Building has won in the Higher Education category of the prestigious Architects’ Journal Retrofit Awards 2016.

The Cockcroft Building on the University’s Moulsecoomb campus has been a familiar landmark on Brighton’s Lewes Road since the 1960’s.

The awards jury said: “This is a bold project, particularly from a sustainability point of view – and a model for future similar projects. It focuses well on how people use the building. The exterior has been elegantly improved and the interior creatively revamped.”

Welcoming the award, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Debra Humphris said: “This is really excellent news and I congratulate the team involved in this major project. The refurbishment of the Cockcroft Building is an important part of our ongoing investment programme which aims to ensure that our students have access to world-class facilities.”

The multi-million pound refurbishment programme, which took three years to complete, was carried out whilst the building was still being used by staff and students and included:
• Development of state-of-the-art new learning laboratories and office spaces to house schools within the university’s College of Life, Health and Physical Sciences
• Installation of new windows to improve insulation throughout the building
• Exposing the ceiling space to highlight the architectural features of the building’s interior
• Opening up corridors in the building to improve lighting, people movement and provide social and informal learning spaces for students and staff to use.
• Reducing noise levels by putting in place sound buffering and dampening features
• Installing a new roof surface to improve insulation and energy efficiency.

 

The complexity of microplastic pollution

Matt Turley picOur very own Matt Turley, PhD student at the Aquatic Research Centre has been on the news!

Matt was interviewed on Channel 5 news about the dangers of microplastics, following a report issued by The Environmental Audit Committee of the House of Commons. The report calls for the government to ban the use of microplastics in cosmetic products, due to the available evidence on the impacts to the marine environment.

Scientists from the Aquatic Research Centre at the University of Brighton are backing calls for a ban on ‘microbeads’ – particles of plastic used in a number of cosmetics and cleaning products, which end up in lakes, rivers and the ocean.

Matt, who is researching the problem, said: “Microplastics do not biodegrade, and so they accumulate in the marine environment and are extremely costly and difficult, if not impossible, to clean up.  A ban on the use of microplastics in personal care products in the UK is a step in the right direction to reducing further inputs of plastic to the marine environment and to begin to address the wider problems of marine plastic pollution.

“Globally, approximately 300 million tonnes of plastic are manufactured annually. In a single year, the amount of plastic pollution entering the oceans has been estimated at between 4.8 million tonnes and 12.7 million tonnes, and around 80 per cent of this is thought to be introduced through land-based activities.

“Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic less than 5mm. Despite their small size, these microplastics have been identified as a significant form of pollution with the potential to impact marine animals and the wider ecosystem. Their sources are numerous and include particles that arise following the physical and chemical breakdown of larger pieces of plastic debris, industrial spillages and products, as well as household items such as synthetic clothing or personal care products. Continue reading