There were celebrations at James Donaldson Timber Ltd (JDT) last week as student placement Charlotte Owen won first prize at an award ceremony in Edinburgh.
Charlotte has been working with JDT for the past two months through the Bright Green Placement scheme, looking into the energy usage and carbon emissions of the business. The placement is run across Scotland by The Business Partnership Ltd, and culminates in an award ceremony to honour the most enterprising student.
After competing against 12 students for the regional awards in August, Charlotte made it into the national final at the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 6 September along with six other students from across Scotland. Following a presentation and exhibition to a panel of judges, Charlotte was awarded with 'Most Enterprising Environmental Student 2011' by Stewart Stevenson, MSP, Minister for the Environment and Climate Change.
During her placement, Charlotte's objective was to reduce the company's energy consumption and carbon emissions, predominantly through developing a monitoring and targeting system to highlight the peaks and troughs of energy usage. Through her investigations, Charlotte identified that she could save the company 20% on electricity bills, reduce paper waste by 4.5 tonnes and reduce its carbon emissions by 210 tonnes per year.
"It was my intention that with an effective monitoring system, well researched recommendations and a voluntary 'Green Team', the company could make positive changes that would be welcomed and supported by its employees well into the future.
"I was absolutely delighted to win the national final of the Environmental Placement Programme. This has been one of the most learning intensive and valuable experiences of my life. Before my placement I had the passion and interest for sustainability and energy reduction as well as the skills to think analytically and problem solve. My placement has since given me the technical knowledge to carry out energy and carbon monitoring and assess the feasibility of a number of engineering and technical measures to reduce energy consumption. I've learnt a lot; I feel like I've had a positive impact on the company, and I've also had a great time."
Donaldson's Integrated Systems Manager, Mark Murphy comments:
"Charlotte far exceeded what was expected of her in her role, and has been a real asset to the company over the last two months. We're extremely pleased and proud that she won the national award, and that her hard work has been recognised.
"As a company dedicated to managing the impact we have on the environment, we are always looking for new ways to perform our business in a more environmentally-responsible manner. I will be taking over Charlotte's report and will ensure that where possible the company follows her recommendations. We wish her all the best in her future role."
Since starting her placement, Charlotte has been offered a job with Kent County Council Highway Transportation Graduate Stream, where she will be planning new infrastructure developments, public transport and non-vehicular modes of transport.