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14 March 2015

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 March 14, 2015
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Category: Student Blog

Introduction

Worcester Students’ Union (WSU) is committed to help University of Worcester (UoW) students to adopt more sustainable behaviours throughout their university life. The introduction of Energize Worcester project in 2013/14 academic year aims to not only improve student’s energy habits in privately rented houses, it also aims to use the project as a spring board to further improve students’ general pro-environmental habits. A baseline survey was delivered in October 2013; this lifestyle results will be used to compare the impacts made by Energize Worcester project since its launch 12 months ago.

Survey method

The survey was designed in the format of questionnaires, consisting of a series of multiple choice questions across five sections:

  • Consumption behaviour. It was targeted to identify participants’ general grocery shopping habit, health eating preferences and food waste attitudes.
  • Living style. It is focuses on students’ behaviours at home (or term time accommodation), with particular interests of their energy related behaviours, such as the use of appliances, heating behaviours etc.
  • Travel style. It is used to identify students’ general day to day travel to university during term time as well as international holiday travel.
  • Pro-environmental attitudes. The Defra’s pro-environmental attitude segmentation questions were used in this questionnaire aimed at identifying students’ ‘Green attitude’ distribution.
  • Awareness of Energize Worcester. A new addition to try to identify students general awareness of the project and how did students find out about the project.
  • Identify yourself. This section focusses on identifying student demographic types, including gender, nationality, student status etc.

The survey was conducted through Bristol Online Survey (BOS) an online survey website, the web address was sent through direct email to all students and shared via Students’ Union’s Facebook regularly. Most of the questions are identical to the baseline survey with additional questions on the awareness the Energize Worcester project, the duration of the survey was four weeks.

Key comparative results

The survey is targeted at whole university student population, according to the student date record, there were 8808 registered students been invited to participate, of which 937 have responded and completed the survey, account for 10.64%. The overall response rate is almost level with the baseline survey, which was 10.37%. The male and female ratio is 27:72 which levels with the overall university gender ratio.

The key comparative results are:

1. Consumption style.  Supermarket remains the most popular choice in grocery shopping of 87.9%, however it is marginally less than the baseline survey of 89.2%. Consequently, the number of participants chose to shop in smaller, healthy, local providers have had an impressive 49% increase from 3.7% to 5.5%. The number of participant eats meat at least 3 times in a week is level with the baseline of 75%.  Around 66% students do not separate their food waste, which is a slight improvement compare with 69% from the baseline.

2. Living style (energy habits). Over 46% students adopt colder room by put on extra layer a slight increase from the baseline’s 45%, 3.3% students believe their room is ‘too warm’ which is 37.5% increase from the baseline. The numbers of students ‘always’ and ‘quite often’ use 40oC to wash their clothes is identical to the baseline of 78%. The number of students who ‘never’ or ‘Occasionally’ turn their lights off is 78%, a slight dip from 81% baseline. And the number of students ‘Always’ or ‘Occasionally’ leave their mobile phone charger on is the same as baseline of 35%. The number of students who ‘Never’ or ‘Occasionally’ leave the heating on when go out for few hours has had marginal improvement from 60.1% to 62.9%.

3. Travel Style. The number of students use public transport travel to university remain 21%, although the students who uses bicycles have had a 31% increase from 2.6% to 3.4%. The number of students sharing cars while traveling within the UK had decreased from 58% to 56%. Consequently the number who travels using public transport (Train or bus) increased from 6.4% to 7.6% a 19% increase.

4. Pro-environmental attitudes segmentation. The overall number of students who are either support or actively engage with pro-environmental initiatives has increased from 64% to 67% nearly 5% increases. Notably from the segmentation, ‘concerned consumers’ has had the highest increase of nearly 40% from 23% to 32%. As a result of the positive changes, the proportion of less engaged segmentations (‘stalled starter’ and ‘Honestly disengaged’) have had 8% decrease from 25% to 23%.

The data illustration table and figures as follow:

Table 1 Distribution of pro-environmental attitudes

(N=937)

Type Code

Type Name

Total Number

1

Positive Greens

181

2

Waste Watchers

41

3

Concerned Consumers

303

4

Sideline Supporters

105

5

Cautious Participants

94

6

Stalled Starters

33

7

Honestly Disengaged

180

SU pro-environmental attitudes 2014

5. Awareness of Energize Worcester project. This is a new part specifically added to measure the communication impact to the university students. The survey indicate over 26% students have hear or participating the Energize Worcester project, and over 27% of those students find out the project through Fresher’s Fayre this year, with further 17% learnt the project via leaflets in the Students’ Union area. By cross tabulate with the demographic data, over 35% of third year students and over 31% second year students are aware and participating the project. The results have indicated that the project’s communication campaigns have managed to raise awareness amongst students since its launch in Go Green Week 2014 and have continuously gaining interests from eligible students.

Summary

The end of year one survey is used to measure the impacts made through the WSU and Energize Worcester’s effort in encouraging students to improve their pro-environmental habits. The results suggest positive improvements in various areas of student’s behaviour; such as more students becoming in favour of  shopping in smaller, local, health grocery stores compare with big supermarkets, students not only use more public transport, but also use more bikes which have even better environmental impacts. The pro-environmental attitudes have seen steady improvements, which again shows the project and efforts from the WSU have made positive contribution towards creating a more sustainable university. And finally, over a quarter of the survey participants recognised or took part of Energize Worcester, given the project only actively promoted itself for less than 10 months and been break off by the summer vacation as well, the result is highly encouraging.

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