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Project Up Jon Hutchinson

Groundwork’s Project UP helps Birmingham students to live a greener lifestyle

Posted on 28 September 2016

Groundwork’s Project UP has teamed up with the University of Birmingham to help students learn to live a more sustainable lifestyle during their time at University and beyond.  

‘The Green Community’ is a brand new residency option taken up by 184 students who want to learn the tricks of the sustainability trade. The initiative follows previous feedback given by students who were keen to not only learn about the importance of being environmentally aware  but to learn important life skills and lessons that they can use during their time at university and in the future, while leaving a legacy for future students.

To help make this a reality, the University has joined forces with Project UP, a Groundwork project based in Merseyside that upcycles furniture and waste materials to then be donated or sold as well as offering local young people skills in carpentry and restoration.

Jon Hutchinson, Project UP’s Project Manager has worked with the University of Birmingham to turn the vision of the Green Community into a reality. Project UP have designed, built and installed all furniture for the community’s Social Room and enhanced green spaces with additional seating, signage and bird boxes.   

As well as the upcycled furniture, The Green Community also boasts 272 solar panels to help promote renewable energy, secure bike racks to encourage students to cycle, an orchard with 12 apple trees, ‘green walls’ on the front of apartment buildings, prominent recycling bins and various inviting communal green spaces for students to enjoy, including a BBQ and wildflower areas.

Matt Beveridge, Deputy Manager - Contracts and Engagement (Hospitality and Accommodation Services) at University of Birmingham said:

"We are one of the first in university accommodation to pilot a sustainable living option that is student led, on this size and scale. As of May 2016, we had more than 800 students express an interest to live in this residence.

"Over the last 12 months, we’ve been busy collecting feedback from students about the kind of things that would help inspire and encourage them to live a more sustainable lifestyle. The use of upcycled furniture is a growing trend, and it’s clearly something that appeals to students aged 18-24, which is why we were so keen to work with Jon and his team at Project UP.

"Our aim for the residence is simple; to raise environmental awareness, promote behavioural change and empower residents to be more community driven. 

"If successful, we’d like to embed this approach to living across all of our residences, again encouraging students to come forward with their own ideas and initiatives. Students that have joined us this September are encouraged to share their iniatives and success with others using the hash tags #uobgetinvolved and #hellobrum."

Project UP has also held numerous workshops with students to get them involved with upcycling and to teach them valuable skills on how to put a new lease of life into old furniture and become dedicated followers of upcycled fashion.

Jon Hutchinson said: "The collaboration with the University of Birmingham is something that we are really proud of. Working with likeminded organisations is always great and being involved with something as innovative as the Green Community fills us with excitement.

"We wanted to use a wide range of salvaged materials and produce items from reclaimed timber, repurposed scaffold poles and fabric offcuts. The result is a practical and engaging space that we hope will be a vibrant home for this new community.

"We used upcycled materials throughout the room in the hope that it will make students look at waste differently. Upcycling is one of the most creative design processes you can go through. It makes you look at the intrinsic value of materials as well as thinking about the journey it has been on to get to you. It is not thinking outside the box, it is thinking what you can do with the box!"

For more information about Project UP please click here or for further information on The Green Community please click here.