Case Study

Turning activism into action: community sustainability initiatives at Bradfield College

Here at Bradfield College, our school community is committed to the sustainable development of our school and educating those around us on the importance of sustainability.

Eloise L. Year 9

Unique biodiversity, native to Bradfield’s wild flower meadow, maintained as part of our Environmental Strategy

Bradfield recognised the absolute importance of sustainability to the education of its pupils as well as to the College community: past, current and future, by making sustainability one of the five core strands of its long-term strategy. We recognised very early on that, if we were going to have the impact we hoped for, that we would need buy-in from the whole College. With that in mind our Sustainability Committee is co-chaired by two members of staff – one from the academic staff, the other from operational staff. Feeding directly into this is the Pupil Sustainability Committee, chaired by the Sustainability Prefects, which includes representatives from every boarding House. This structure has driven the prioritisation of projects that are allowing us to turn the hopes of Bradfieldians into reality, such as:

  • Energy saving projects that reduce CO2 emissions including:
    • Over 65 individual LED lighting upgrade projects. These have delivered much improved internal living and learning environments for our pupils and use significantly less electrical energy. This reduction in electrical consumption has resulted in cost savings of over £25,000/year and carbon savings of over 20 tonnes of CO2. In addition, the expected long life of LED light fittings will result in significant maintenance savings.
    • The College has introduced a heating policy for the academic buildings and boarding houses which is controlled by a Building Energy Management System. Ensuring consistent policy across the College’s buildings and having central control has saved an estimated 640,000 kWh or 147 tonnes of CO2e per year.
  • Pupil-led/driven projects including:
    • Sustainability Week – a week each year where the focus in and out of class is on sustainability, including forums, speakers and competitions. This year saw the launch (or laying?!) of ‘The Golden Egg’…
    • The Golden Egg – an inter-House competition (who doesn’t love a competition?!) where Houses have to reduce energy and water use as well as increasing recycling and biodiversity. Each House is now individually metered for water and energy and the amount and type of waste is recorded.

A view of the first batch of trees planted in the Leavers’ Wood in 2019

In my opinion, the initiatives launched during sustainability week helped to instil a mentality shift, however minor, in regard to sustainability. Not only do I feel that the competition incentivised pupils and teachers to make a positive step towards a greener lifestyle, but I also feel that it brought us together as a community to reflect on how today’s actions are vital to the success of the future.” Alex F, Sustainability Prefect

The Leavers’ Wood – one tree per House is added to the wood for each set of leavers from that House with a plaque naming the leavers. “The perfect way to leave our mark.Tommy F, current U6

This is the start of a journey which has seen Bradfield commit to 25% emissions reduction by 2025 whilst establishing reliable baselines and identifying areas of focus which will enable us to move quickly beyond that in the next iteration of our strategy. We have not committed to our next target yet because we don’t yet know what is feasible, but, whatever it is, we will ensure it is suitably challenging.

Pupils testing a solar-powered outdoor workstation which has been installed within the Leavers’ Wood

We should leave the final word to one of our youngest Bradfieldians as it is their future we are all responsible for.

Here at Bradfield College, our school community is committed to the sustainable development of our school and educating those around us on the importance of sustainability. It helps take away our concerns for the future as we feel we are actually doing something to make things better.” Eloise L. Year 9