The Government has selected Kingston University to take a leading role in sustainability education for the built environment sector. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Government arm that funds Universities, today announced that Kingston had been chosen to form one of 74 high-profile Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETLs). Kingston’s CETL – to be called C-SCAIPE (the Centre for Sustainable Communities Achieved Through Integrated Professional Education) - was awarded £1.4 million in capital funding and a further £350,000 per year for the next five years. The University’s School of Surveying secured the award because of its reputation for teaching excellence.
C-SCAIPE will be the only CETL focused on the built environment. It will enable graduates studying on professional courses to develop a deeper understanding of sustainability which will be vital in shaping the communities of the future. The Centre’s work will initially focus predominantly on embedding sustainability principles within the built environment curriculum. It will then expand to other subject areas to enhance students’ understanding from perspectives beyond their own discipline.
Head of Kingston’s School of Surveying Professor Sarah Sayce, who led the winning CETL bid, said it was essential that professionals in all fields were up to speed on sustainability issues. Those within the built environment should be leading the way. “We spend 80 per cent of our lives in buildings, yet the changing needs of the occupiers, many of whom are very aware of the need to operate more sustainably, are not adequately addressed because the sector has been slow to respond to the challenges,” Professor Sayce explained. “Many people don’t realise that buildings are actually responsible for 50 per cent of all carbon emissions in the United Kingdom. It’s also a little known fact that many of our commercial buildings may end up being unusable within the next 20 years as a result of climate change.”
The HEFCE funding recognised Kingston’s role in championing the importance of sustainability in all facets of modern life, Professor Sayce said. “Our goal is to equip our graduates with the vision and innovation to address tomorrow’s needs,” she said.
The University received nearly 40 letters of support for the C-SCAIPE bid. Chris Webster, Director of the Centre for Education in the Built Environment, wrote that C-SCAIPE would be an enormous asset not only in the United Kingdom but also further afield. “It has the potential to become an important beacon of innovation in work-based, project-based and team-based approaches to teaching sustainability skills and awareness in the built environment,” he said. “I am confident that the Centre will provide a vehicle for driving forward HEFCE’s objective of creating graduates who are more appropriately skilled.”
David Tuffin, chair of professional body RICS England and senior partner at Kingston-based chartered surveyors Tuffin, Ferraby and Taylor, also welcomed the news. “A holistic approach to professional education as regards sustainability is vital,” he said. Andy Johnston, head of education and learning at national sustainable development charity Forum for the Future also backed Kingston’s proposal. “It will not be possible to create sustainable communities without professionals in the construction industry really understanding the relationships between people and their environment,” he said.
The first phase of the project will involve creating a base for the Centre at the University’s Penrhyn Road campus. Work is expected to get under way when the capital funding is released in March.