Last week I had the privilege of attending my first Sustainable City Network event in Leicester. The event sees cities coming together to share best practice and raise awareness of sustainability issues within their respective cities. The network was started by PECT over four years ago and now has 15 cities as members.
This year’s event was attended by members from Leeds, Bristol, Leicester, Middlesborough and Peterborough. Members meet annually, at a different city, with the day split into information-sharing sessions followed by site visits to exemplar projects.
This being my first time attending, I was slightly sceptical about the value of my day out the office, away from my spreadsheets and contracts! However I found the day both highly informative and inspiring. We shared knowledge about the many challenges facing cities regarding sustainable issues, from transport to climate change to the physical improvement works being undertaken to reduce the environmental impact of public buildings.
The day started with a question and answer session with Leicester’s Assistant City Mayor and Councillor for Energy & Sustainability, Adam Clarke, who not only talks the talk about sustainable transport, but later we witnessed him walking the walk (or jogging the jog) to his next meeting!
The afternoon session saw us climb onto numerous rooftops to view the extent of solar panels being placed on public buildings, and a tour of the University of Leicester Centre for Medicines’ new building, which is the largest passivhaus in the UK. The afternoon session was followed by an excellent talk about environment education in Leicester by secondary school students from English Martyrs’ Catholic School.
I came away from the day having gained further understanding about implementing sustainability in cities – the challenges and also the opportunities it can create. I hope to be able to replicate some of the success we learned about from Leicester and the other cities, as well as hopefully inspire them with some of the great work we are already doing at PECT and in the rest of the city.
Stuart Dawks is the Commercial Manager at Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT).