Sustainable Food and Drink talks to James Macsween

Macsween, guardian of Scotland’s national dish, is renowned for their traditional haggis and black puddings and, within the industry the business is also known for its environmental credentials. 

Over the years Macsween has managed to reduce their relative energy and water use, divert significant proportions of waste from landfill and implement an ethical sourcing policy.MrMacsween

The Sustainable Food & Drink (SFD) project, run at Glasgow Caledonian University, caught up with James Macsween to find what makes environmental initiatives a high priority at the company.

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Fuel Poverty issue puts low cost energy efficient housing on the agenda

Rising unemployment and dramatically increasing fuel prices could lead to significant fuel poverty in the UK unless more is done to invest in energy efficiency. Gas and electricity bills for millions of homes are expected to rocket in the coming years, as suppliers attempt to offset rising wholesale prices, energy analysts have warned.

Households are considered by the UK Government to be in fuel poverty if they have to spend more than 10% of household income on fuel to keep their home to an adequate standard of warmth. One of the most effective ways of combating fuel poverty is to target energy efficiency measures on homes typically occupied by those on low incomes.

AppleGreen Homes is working with Glasgow Caledonian University and Glasgow-based Spacesix Architects to research and develop an affordable, energy efficient home for the future at the new BRE Innovation Park at Ravenscraig in Motherwell. It will feature a solar energy package that will not only help significantly reduce electricity bills but will also drastically reduce heating bills, helping to eradicate fuel poverty. In addition, a guaranteed feed-in tariff from the solar electricity package will be paid to the owner, developer, housing association or council.

SETN annual conference – 29th June

GCU will be at the SETN annual conference at the University of Strathclyde on 29th June.

The event includes an exhibition and workshops, giving businesses in the Environmental and Clean Technologies sector advice on a range of issues including funding, business development, carbon reduction, intellectual property and regulation.

Speakers include Nigel Holmes, CEO at Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (SHFCA), John Ferguson, Head of Strategy at Binn Eco Park and Peter Higgins, Founder and CEO at UWI Technology.

Find out more about GCU’s work in the built and natural environment and more about the event at

Shanks takes business guests on AD plant tour

An interesting tour around Shanks’ Anaerobic Digestion plant in Cumbernauld and its state-of-the-art recycling facility in Blochairn today, accompanied by CeeD members. The AD plant processes food waste to produce renewable energy.

We were informed about the drivers of change in waste policy by Zero Waste Scotland’s Simon Morris, who emphasised 2025 targets of a minimum of 70% of waste to be recycled. We heard that businesses must really improve their segregation of materials to help us reach these targets.

Scotlands’ councils and companies are already working with GCU’s School of the Built and Natural Environment to try to improve their environmental activities.

GCU’s energy efficient house now on display

A partnership between GCU, Applegreen Homes and Spacesix Architects has created the affordable, energy efficient house of the future.

The new house will feature a solar-energy package that will help to reduce electricity and heating bills, aiming to eradicate fuel poverty. Prices start at only £49,999 for a three-bedroom home. The unique Applegreen Homes concept was designed by Glasgow firm Spacesix Architects with assistance from GCU, who researched and developed all aspects of the build, ensuring it is highly energy efficient yet affordable.

The showhouse is now on display in the prestigious BRE Innovation Park, based at the former Ravenscraig steelworks site in Motherwell.

For more information, contact Audrey Meikle, School of the Built and Natural Environment, on 0141 331 8458

CPD modules in fire safety at GCU London

As well as exclusive postgraduate courses, GCU London offers a range of CPD modules and short courses. 

More subjects will be added throughout 2011. You can sign up for GCU London updates for more details.

2011 courses

For more information: 

Contact Audrey Meikle by phone +44 (0)141 331 8458 or email

CIC Start Online event on Improving Energy and Carbon Performance of Housing

Glasgow Caledonian University is hosting a CIC Start Online event tomorrow, called Improving Energy and Carbon Performance of Housing – A Glasgow Case Study.

All CIC Start Online members will be invited to attend the online webinar and will receive an email with the meeting link. You can also attend the seminar in person by registering at A buffet lunch will be provided before the event, providing opportunities for networking with fellow delegates and the seminar speakers. If you wish to attend the seminar in person, please complete the registration form at The price is £70 per delegate (£50 for CIC Start Online members).

Further Information: CIC Start Online

Dr Jafry heads to Agrex’10

tahseenDr Tahseen Jafry, a lecturer in Glasgow Caledonian University’s School of the Built and Natural Environment, is presenting a paper on rural women in agriculture at the International Conference On Agricultural Extension 2010.

The AGREX’10 conference takes place in Malaysia and focuses on the “Empowerment of agri-food stakeholders in facing global challenges towards sustainability”. 

Dr Jafry’s paper is on “Reaching rural women: Understanding what is gender sensitive in agricultural extension” and is part of a session on Agro Community, Poverty Alleviation and Rural Development.

The conference provides a platform for learning and discussion on agricultural extension among local and foreign experts on agriculture extension and practitioners, and facilitates co-operation among key agri-food stakeholders in the area of agricultural extension and development.

Vital renewable energy research at Glasgow Caledonian Uni

earthScotland’s Climate Change minister Stewart Stevenson is pushing the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Mission agenda at the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen next week.

The Scottish Government’s Climate Change Act, passed earlier this year, has committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80 per cent by 2050.

At the weekend, Parliamentarians joined thousands of protestors as they took to the streets of Glasgow as part of Scotland’s biggest ever climate change demonstration. The Wave was organised by the Stop Climate Chaos coalition.

At Glasgow Caledonian University, vital renewable energy work is also high on the agenda.

Research is central to the School of the Built and Natural Environment’s activities, and it attained the top rating in Scotland in the category  “Architecture and the Built Environment” of The Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) for 2008.

The School of the Built and Natural Environment has a research partnership with Grameen Shakti , a not-for-profit company established to promote, develop and popularize renewable energy technologies in remote, rural areas of Bangladesh. The School of the Built and Natural Environment is collaborating with Grameen Shakti on the largest micro-generation renewable energy program in the world. A delegation of Grameen Shakti will also attend the Copenhagen Summit.   

Dr M. Asif, Lecturer in Sustainable and Renewable Energy Technologies at Glasgow Caledonian University, says: “In the backdrop of the environmental challenges Bangladesh faces , the work we are jointly undertaking is important and would be of interest to other developing and developed countries as well.”

Another important renewable energy initiative is being headed by Dr Alastair Sutherland, Dr Alan Williams and Susan Withers, of the Division of Biological/Biomedical Sciences. They have obtained £147,000 of funding from iTi Energy to study the anaerobic digestion of seaweed to produce methane. This is part of a new initiative to develop advanced biofuels for renewable energy.

Your business can benefit from the expertise available at Glasgow Caledonian University. Whether you are an SME, charity, multinational or public sector organisation, the Applied Knowledge Exchange can provide professional consultancy, specialist research facilities, and bespoke work-based education.