Why Here? Why Now?
These pages form the sustainability strategy for the Sustainability in Action Group (SiAG) which represents all students and staff on sustainability issues at the Glasgow School of Art (GSA). This strategy matches the GSA’s own strategy timescale which runs from 2016 to 2018.
In true GSA style, this strategy is designed to be non-linear, provocative, challenging and disrupt standardised thinking. Navigate how you wish from here; follow links to other strategy pages, or link out to our actions and external partners’ websites.
But first up, a suitable first question is, “why bother with sustainability at an art school?”
A recent report for university governors has highlighted the benefits of sustainable values and practices. Thinking and acting sustainably has an obvious benefit in mitigating our effect on the environment, but it also means better overall management, becoming more efficient and effective, and saving money.
It means starting early on day 1 in our halls of residence with new students, then considering issues in depth, seeking innovative dynamic solutions from all available angles and taking a longer-term view. Most actions mean cost-savings, more growth, enhanced adaptation, and resilience to change. It means reduced purchasing and consideration of product lifecycles thereby reducing procurement and waste disposal costs; as an art school the more we can re-use the less we buy and waste.
It helps us meet and exceed government policy objectives: By 2020 new and renovated buildings will need to be zero-carbon; meeting these targets early saves money over the long-term and makes us sector leaders, not chasers.
Sustainability enhances our research profile and contributes towards REF assessments, an enhanced student experience and a deeper, more meaningful interaction, widening participation within our community, our geographical local community and wider academic communities.
Working to our values also creates a space of empathy, where students and staff feel greater connection and a freedom to create and communicate stories, messages and work that helps connect us to tackle local and global issues.
Sustainability also means healthy communities: better mental health through promoting yoga, mindfulness, work/life balance, active travel and quiet spaces, with clear benefits reducing stress, absenteeism and raising productivity. In turn this attracts and retains the best quality staff. We work closely with partners such as the unions, who also share similar values. Students thrive in a safe, caring, free environment: grades improve, drop-outs reduce and feedback scores improve.
Next: Climate Disruption