A leading UK outdoor education charity which has its headquarters in Shropshire has been recognised for being a national ‘game changer’ when it comes to leading the way on sustainability issues.
The Field Studies Council (FSC), which operates a network of field study centres across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland and has its HQ at Montford Bridge, near Shrewsbury, has a long-standing commitment to reducing its carbon footprint across all of its locations and is aiming for net zero output by 2030.
Having switched to a 100 per cent renewable energy tariff, the organisation, which provides high quality outdoor education to schools, colleges and universities, has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 34 per cent since 2011 and has declared its own climate emergency.
FSC’s ongoing efforts have now gained national recognition through the environmental sustainability network Fit for the Future and it has been awarded the ‘Game Changers of the Year’ award.
Hannah Mann, Fit for the Future project officer, said FSC provided ‘inspiration’ to its network of charities, heritage organisations and cultural venues when it came to tackling environmental and sustainability issues.
Ben Young and Mark Bolland, who lead the FSC’s work on sustainability, have also been singled out for their hard work and commitment to driving down the charity’s overall carbon footprint.
Mark, FSC’s leading expert on climate change, said: “We are delighted to have our ongoing efforts recognised through winning this award.
“We have achieved ambitious carbon reduction targets over recent years but it has not been easy especially when a number of our centres are housed within old, listed buildings, some of which are in isolated locations
“It’s meant we have had to think outside the box a little bit and introduce and invest in renewable technologies to achieve our targets.”
A big part of the charity’s sustainability drive has also been focused on behavioural change among its own staff and those visiting its centres.
Mark added: “Encouraging individuals to make small changes to their lifestyle such as using the car less, buying less and changing their diet has made a huge difference when it comes to reducing our overall carbon footprint.
“Our outdoor education tutors are also playing a significant role when it comes to teaching children and young people about the dangers facing our planet and how their actions and behaviours can have an impact.
“At our field centres children get to see and experience some of the UK’s most beautiful, bio-diverse rich environments.
“Getting them outside into this natural training ground means we are helping to connect them with nature and providing experiences which will equip them with the knowledge they need to make choices as they grow older which will help protect our environment.
“The future of our planet really does lie in the hands of future generations so we really must do all we can to make sure we are teaching beyond the four walls of a classroom and getting children outdoors”
The FSC, were nominated along with Ealing Council and WWF (UK), to win the ‘gamechanger’ award, has reduced its carbon emissions by 34 per cent since 2011 – the equivalent of 389 tonnes of carbon dioxide or driving its current fleet of mini buses around the world 51 times.
Switching to greener, off-grid sources of energy has been key to reducing its carbon footprint. Efforts have also focused on building infrastructure and managing heat loss at centres and replacing its vehicle fleet with more energy efficient cars and reducing travel time for staff.
All FSC centres are also committed to providing sustainable meals and have been awarded the Food for Life Served Here bronze standard award for its efforts.