Two years of petitions, meetings, letters and lobbying from our Campaigns Forum have finally paid off: the University of Reading is now using 100 percent green electricity. We - a core group of about 15 students - identified the people in the university who had the power to make the switch, and over a long period we lobbied them in various ways.
We began with a petition, collecting more than 1,000 signatures in stalls, in halls and by staging events around the campus. Over the next six months, we met the department's staff regularly to convince them of our case.
After extensive consultation, Reading adopted a new energy policy. This ensured that green electricity, as long as it was financially viable, would be given first preference whenever the university's energy contract came up for renewal.
Then, the university staff did their research and moved their energy contracts to 100 percent renewable sources with Scottish and Southern Energy, without any increase in cost. And thanks to our energy policy, when they renew the contract in two years' time, they will most likely stay green.
Our victory is a clear example of how students working together can make significant changes for the better. However, not content with this, we are now pressing the university on recycling and energy efficiency. We also want it to employ full-time environmental management personnel to make the whole university more environmentally friendly.
In the future, we hope the rest of the higher education sector will follow our lead. All universities should obtain quotations for the supply of green electricity and make a public commitment to switch to a green supply as soon as possible.
There is no reason to wait for a top-down solution from the Government. The time to act is now, and with green electricity becoming more and more widely available, institutions, businesses and individuals alike can easily make the switch today.
Photo: Edward (far right), and fellow students, Ali and Tom, meet with the Vice Chancellor and the Director of Facilities Management to discuss the Campaigns Forum Green Electricity campaign.