Marine Institute marks Sustainability Week with new Environmental Strategy

Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute and Debbi Pedreschi, member of the Marine Institute's Get Greener Team. To mark Sustainability Week (27 – 31 January 2020), the Marine Institute has launched an Environmental Strategy and Resource Efficiency Action Plan. A number of activities also took place during the week to recognise the energy savings achieved by the Marine Institute and how staff can continue to 'get greener' at work and home.

Ireland's public sector is leading the way for energy efficiency, with organisations required to achieve a 33% reduction in energy usage by the end of 2020.

The Marine Institute is well on its way to achieving its target, and has already improved its energy efficiency by 31%, primarily through staff behavioural changes and small-scale equipment and infrastructure enhancements.

To continue to minimise the Institute's environmental impacts and promote sustainable practices, the Marine Institute has launched an Environmental Strategy and Resource Efficiency Action Plan (2019 – 2021) which outlines key goals in the areas of energy, water, waste, transport and biodiversity.Some of the members of the Marine Institute's Get Greener Team.

Patricia Orme, Director of Corporate Services at the Marine Institute said, "We are delighted with the energy reductions achieved by the Marine Institute since 2009. The Institute's Get Greener Teams have identified and implemented actions for improving waste and water management, implemented the Pollinator Plan in Oranmore and Newport and have also been instrumental in promoting energy and sustainability awareness. Through our new Environmental Strategy, we will continue to increase awareness about our activities relating to energy consumption and adopt environmentally responsible behaviours to reduce our environmental impact."

During Sustainability Week, there were a number of activities and information stands on energy efficiency and sustainable practices at home and in the workplace. Staff took part in the Electric Bike Challenge, cycling to produce enough energy to light a bulb and had the opportunity to test drive the Renault Rio, a vehicle with a 100% electric motor.

Recycling demonstrations reminded staff what items can be recycled at home and work, promoting laboratory recycling and alternatives to single use plastic. Paper (printing) usage in the Institute has been reduced by 8% compared to 2018. The team launched the Institute's Water Campaign, tracking water consumption and highlighting how to reduce water wastage. Staff learnt more about the importance of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan and took part in a tree planting on the Institute's grounds in Oranmore.

Toni Hollowell, Facilities Manager at the Marine Institute said, "The range of displays and interactive demonstrations reminds staff how they can they can continue to contribute to the Institute's energy savings and also implement savings in their own home. Small behavioural changes such as switching off monitors and laboratory equipment, replacing single-use plastics and improving recycling and waste habits have made a big impact on our energy and sustainable practices."

The Marine Institute has reduced energy consumption through efficiencies in the heating system of the headquarters, replaced motors with energy saving equivalents in the plant rooms, made improvements on the Building Management System, installed LED lighting and timers and encouraged staff to switch off monitors and laboratory equipment when not in use. Promoting good recycling habits and introducing composting for food waste has improved waste disposal. Installing aerators on taps and echo-shower heads has also reduced water usage by 50%.

As part of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, 30% of the grassed area at the Marine Institute's grounds at Oranmore has been converted in to wildflower meadows providing a safe habitat for pollinators. The surrounding areas of the Institute's Newport Research Facility are also pollinator-friendly.

The Marine Institute is monitoring the energy consumption of Ireland's two marine research vessels, the RV Celtic Explorer and the RV Celtic Voyager and looking for opportunities to improve energy efficiencies.

Optimising and investing in Marine Institute infrastructure which is energy efficient and enhances integrated advice and service delivery, is an objective the Institute's Strategic Plan 2018 – 2022: Building Ocean Knowledge, Delivering Ocean Services.