Our Homes Fit For Study report showed just how bad some student housing can be. Cold and damp, with exploitative landlords, the negative impact accommodation like this has on student welfare is obvious.
But this is a massive sustainability issue too.
If you’ve got issues with cold and damp, you’ve got issues with energy-efficiency. And that means we’ve got student houses which drive up carbon emissions. It’s unacceptable that, for a movement so committed to sustainability, so many students are driven into homes which undermine their values.
The University of Staffordshire Students’ Union have taken action on both of these issue at once, by creating a trusted letting agency providing high quality, comfortable, fairly priced, energy efficient homes.
“We wanted to create a trusted on-campus location listing only the best quality houses which had been visited and vetted by our trained team, ensuring that finding good quality homes becomes a stress-free process for our students”, explains GreenPad coordinator Katie Ferneyhough.
It’s already a phenomenal success, looking after over 100 properties, with many of them already let out for the upcoming academic year. Offering their service both online, and in a face to face forum through the students’ union building, it’s building a great reputation for providing decent places to live.
But GreenPad doesn’t only provide good quality, low carbon homes. It also takes the opportunity to educate tenants about energy efficiency, and encourage behaviour change towards more responsible living habits.
“All our properties are equipped with our tenant packs – a free guide to saving energy and living more sustainability in general – as well as energy monitors, enabling them to keep track of their energy usage”, explains Katie.
“As a result, our values are based on providing students with good quality, energy efficient student homes, prioritising their welfare whilst encouraging them to live more sustainably within their everyday life and save money on their bills”
GreenPad is a great example of how a students’ union can provide a core service for students, while embedding sustainable behaviours across lifestyles. By prioritising sustainability, it prioritises welfare at the same time – offering a free and trusted lettings service, with all the profits funnelled back into providing an even better service in the future.
With projects like this, our students’ unions can be at the forefront of making sure students really do have homes fit for study, as well as homes which allow them to live out their values around sustainability.