SAVES 2: One year of student engagement in Athens

Friday 10-08-2018 - 10:52

Article by Ioannis Kousis (Dormitory Coordinator at National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece)

SAVES 2 is already one year old! No matter whether one feels that time has passed quickly or not, many activities took place during the 2017-18 academic year (in Greece, and across Europe!). Thousands of students living in seven European countries have been (re)introduced a more sustainable lifestyle. SAVES 2, continuing the successful SAVES project, launched in 14 universities and 104 corresponding dormitories in September 2017 in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Romania and the UK.
The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA), represented in SAVES 2 by the Group of Building Environmental Research, has been a very proactive partner of the project. Two energy saving campaigns have been successfully carried out throughout the 2017-18 academic year; Students Switch Off (SSO) campaign aimed at students living in the four NKUA dormitory buildings and Student Switch Off + (SSO+) campaign addressing students living in the private rented sector, helping reduce their exposure to energy poverty.
Since September 2017 NKUA students have been engaged with both the SSO and SSO+ campaigns through a variety of actions. Photo competitions, climate quizzes, videos concerning energy conservation, raising awareness of energy bills, face-to-face talks and energy saving themed seminars, are just some of the activities that took place throughout the 2017-18 academic year, carried out either by the NKUA dormitory coordinator or by trained student ambassadors in NKUA’s departments and dormitories. At the end of the academic year, to reward students for their energy saving efforts, SSO merchandise (t-shirts, umbrellas, tote bags, coasters) was shared among students living in all four NKUA’s dormitory buildings.
Four questionnaire surveys aimed at students living in NKUA’s dormitories and in the private rented sector (two in each) were circulated to better understand and evaluate students’ energy habits, and also to help us identify efficient ways of tackling energy poverty through using their feedback to better the campaigns. In addition, a survey exclusively targeting landlords, that rented their properties to students, was circulated, contributing to a deeper analysis of the student rental market. The same surveys were circulated to students in the other six countries taking part in SAVES 2.

Of course, there were, and still are, challenges that had (and have) to be overcome to further raise awareness of energy saving; the topic is still not as high on the agenda of Greek students, as we would like it to be. Therefore, future actions were discussed in depth during the SAVES 2 meeting in Bucharest (that brought together all the organisations delivering SSO and SSO+ in Europe) aiming to have more effective engagement with even a larger number of students across Europe for the 2018-19 academic year.
So, enjoy the rest of the Summer and see you in September!...And don’t forget, saving energy can save our planet!

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