Keynote – Susan Aitken - Day 1
Returning for its fourth year, the opening keynote of Learning Places Scotland (LPS) 2021 was delivered by Glasgow City Council’s Councillor Susan Aitken and was chaired by the Scottish Government’s Andy Dailly. Its primary focus was the critical role that Glasgow and Scotland as a nation play in leading the way to deliver net zero commitments and climate resilient interventions over the next decade.
Just weeks before LPS took place at Glasgow’s SECC was COP26, where Glasgow accommodated world leaders to establish ways to mitigate the climate emergency. In the lead up to COP26, some of Glasgow’s proposed talking points included the importance of ensuring support is in place to provide society with the skills required to develop and deliver net zero interventions, and also that businesses are investing appropriately in their employee’s skills. To achieve net zero ambitions and post-Covid living, working and learning, we will see a significant change in what our towns and cities look like as well as how they operate in the coming years.
A strategic “Green Deal” which was recently launched will be delivered by Glasgow City Council in partnership with government, universities, colleges and communities. This will help develop the frameworks needed to combat challenges associated with the climate crisis, at pace and scale, to ensure learning is shaped and nurtured through agile and efficient environments. Buildings can no longer be constructed and used for a single purpose. Under one roof it should be possible to accommodate diverse activities to meet the needs of a whole community. Something that has become apparent and received more recognition is that building new is not always the solution to net zero; instead repurposing and reinvigorating what we already have plays a critical role. Research indicates that our existing estate contributes to 40% of all emissions, therefore we need to prioritise refurbishments and retrofitting. Some feasibility work has been carried out so far, particularly in residential settings, as retrofitting is a priority in Glasgow’s Greenprint for Investment. However, more work needs to be done to fully understand how to carry out widescale retrofitting in various building types. Once we have more in depth knowledge of these learnings will we be able to sufficiently apply them to Scotland’s education facilities to prosper sustainably.
Scotland is recognised as a leader in partnership working, which will continue to be critical to develop and implement sustainable and innovative solutions to the learning estate. To do so, however, the five key themes that shaped the LPS event need to be taken into account: sustainability, low carbon, suitability, digital estate and inclusive growth. The session concluded by declaring: “When learning flourishes, Glasgow flourishes, Scotland flourishes, and increasingly we understand the contribution we make to our global community”.