Sustainability and the future of the planet are at the heart of a variety of ongoing research and development projects taking place in York around environmental real change. These exciting undertakings will hopefully lead to dramatic changes in how we consume the earth’s resources, not just in Yorkshire, but worldwide. Here are some of the amazing things that are happening.
BioYork is a University of York-led initiative that hopes to use research to drive development of the UK bio-based industries. Their focus is on three main global challenges: (1) Heal – using nature’s solutions for healthcare and pharmaceuticals, (2) Feed – improving the productivity, sustainability and nutritional value of crops and food, and (3) Fuel – developing new sources of bio-based fuels and chemicals.
The York City Environment Observatory is a research project monitoring a variety of environmental events and its impact on the population. It will utilise data from the city’s citizens themselves to give researchers a much better understanding of the long term impact of the environment on a population’s health and wellbeing.
FERA Science is based out at Sands Hutton and are leading the way on sustainable food production. They want to ensure that developing agri-food systems can meet the changing needs of a growing population whilst reducing waste, pollution and reliance on non-renewable resources.
It is not only the scientists who are helping to save the world right here from York, but our business communities are also innovating sustainability. The Stockbridge Technology Centre, just south of the city, is leading on LED growing, which is producing better, tastier and faster growing crops. Their LED4CROPS facility was opened by Rt Hon David Willets (the Minister for Universities and Science).
GrowStack is a Pocklington-based company that specialises in building vertical farms virtually anywhere. They were responsible for the Growing Underground project, which created a large-scale bespoke vertical farm built into the tunnels under Clapham in London. The crops are now growing successfully and are sold locally at places including M&S, Waitrose and Whole Foods Market.
There are other innovations which are less directly obvious in terms of showing innovation in sustainability, but which are world leading and future proofing our natural resources. This includes the work that York Instruments (a leading MEG scanning company based here) are doing. MEG scanners provide brain imaging for neuroscientists and traditionally require a lot of helium to function, a precious resource which is depleting. York Instruments are currently developing a scanner which does not need to use helium to work.
At a city level, York is serious about sustainability. This is reflected not only in the new Liberal Democrat / Green Party coalition, but can also be seen through various work by the people happening here. The university students in York have produced an online magazine called ‘Wild’ which addresses sustainability and eco-friendliness, created by, contributed to and distributed by the students themselves.
And the One Planet York initiative asks those that pledge to uphold ten simple principles in order to make one truly sustainable city. These ten principles are (1) Zero Carbon, (2) Zero Waste, (3) Sustainable Transport, (4) Sustainable Materials, (5) Local & Sustainable Food, (6) Sustainable Water, (7) Land Use & Wildlife, (8) Culture & Heritage, (9) Equity & Local Economy and (10) Health & Happiness.