Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Christmas Round Up

With the winter break approaching it is time for one last update from the Sustainability Team before we disappear to gorge on mince pies and be merry.

We have been working away on EcoCampus our environmental management system this week, as you know we received our bronze award in the summer and we are hoping to add a silver award to that early next year. Kat has also been working away on the Carbon Management Plan and we are in the process of updating the draft and getting the document together. Look out for it when it is launched early next year.
The Sustainable Food Policy was passed though the resources sub committee last week which states the University’s desire to encourage and promote ‘sustainable food’ on campus and the Students Union (SUUG) will also be implementing the policy across their retail outlets too. Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming define sustainable food as food that should be produced, processed and traded in ways that:
·         contribute to thriving local economies and sustainable livelihoods – both in the UK and, in the case of imported products, in producer countries;
·         protect the diversity of both plants and animals (and the welfare of farmed and wild species), and avoid damaging natural resources and contributing to climate change;
·         provide social benefits, such as good quality food, safe and healthy products and educational opportunities.
Whether the food is organic, Fairtrade, MSC certified or local produced, the sustainable food policy will ensure the University’s efforts that led to recently being awarded the ‘Good Egg Award’ will continue and become even more focussed as we move forward.
Look out for this logo when you get your fish and chips

Keeping with the theme of food the University has been working alongside the Greenwich Council for Fairtrade Fortnight (28th Feb – 13th March) and will be announcing our plans for the fortnight soon. Both ABM and the Students Union have come up with a number of ideas and Sodexo are going to have an action plan for Fairtrade Fortnight in early January. Helping them along the way is our new Sustainability Intern Naomi Debrah who will be joined by a number of other students from the University in helping out with the events we decide to run over the fortnight.
The second meeting of the University of Greenwich Biodiversity Steering Group has seen a number of actions agreed for positive action to understand and enhance the biodiversity on campus. There will be a stretch of wildflower seed planted along ‘Forty Foot Way’ on the Avery Hill Campus, bird feeders put up at Avery Hill and Medway – to help us record the different species we have on campus – and there is investigation into the feasibility of an area next to Sparrows Farm where we could set up a community garden or food growing space.
Make sure you switch off before you go home

In the meantime make sure you wrap up warm over the Christmas break, and if you are leaving work for a few days make sure you have everything switched off. There is no need to be using energy or electricity during the shutdown period and we can achieve significant carbon savings over the winter break with a few simple finger movements in the direction of power buttons! Merry Christmas and we all look forward to catching up with you again in the New Year.

Friday, 17 December 2010

London Bee Summit

Yesterday saw John head down to London South Bank for the London Bee Summit which brought together the country’s experts on bees, bugs, pesticides and organic gardening to discuss the plight of the bee and launch a new funding package for bee keeping in London.

Myles Bremmer, the CEO of Garden Organic, chaired the afternoon proceedings and introduced Lord Henley, a Peer who works as Under-Secretary of State for Environment as part of the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Lord Henley was quick to boast about his qualities as a marmalade maker but used his opening address to encourage beekeepers to register on Beebase which is set out to ‘provide a wide range of free information for beekeepers, to help keep their honey bees healthy.’ Clearly a large part of the bee keeping audience felt that DEFRA was not doing enough and this came through when the floor was opened up to questions. Quickly Lord Henley felt the room turn hostile as beekeepers questioned him on the use of neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are a type of pesticide which has been linked to a decline in bee numbers and colony collapse disorder which has seen vast numbers of bee colonies die out or ‘collapse’. The UK still allows the use of these types of pesticide despite growing pressure from beekeepers for their use to be limited or banned – something which has happened in France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia. After Lord Henley denounced the claims from the beekeepers that there was significant evidence for the banning of neonicotinoids, and claiming UK laws were tougher than most of our European counterparts, he left the room as the pantomime villain and the target of jeers and hissing from the frustrated beekeepers.

Next up we had the esteemed Professor Opi Outhwaite from the University of Greenwich discussing what role regulation could play in honey bee health. Opi is currently working on research into the laws surrounding conservation and biosecurity of honey bees and (quite wisely) decided to avoid the sticky subject of pesticides on this occasion. Mike Brown from the Food and Environment Research Agency Bee Unit (FERA a subsidiary of DEFRA) described how FERA were working on research around the honey bee and again encouraged the audience to use their website beebase.

Honey Bee Pollinating
Nick Mole from the Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK) managed to rouse the crowd of beekeepers with his hard-line anti-pesticide stance citing pesticides as the main reason for the collapse of one fifth of UK hives. He championed the honey bees worth to the economy to the tune of a £141 billion per year and stated that bees were vital in the production of 80 million tonnes of food per year. Had he continued beyond his ten minute slot Nick could well have had the crowd roused enough to march to parliament and stage an impromptu protest against the government’s stance on pesticides!
Nick Fraser from the National Trust spoke to the audience about chemical-free gardening and what we could learn about keeping a truly organic garden from the National Trust property gardens at Nunnington Hall. He also spoke about the National Trust ‘Bee Part of It’ campaign with BBC local radio stations. Tim Lovett from the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) talked about education and responsibility in apiary and Karin Courtman from the London Beekeepers Association (LBKA) talked about her love for the honey bee and how the LBKA has a mentoring service for those Londoners keen to try their hand at beekeeping too.

The half time break brought the delight of honey cake and the eagerly awaited honey tasting competition, won by the most delicious and quite fruity honey from the London Borough of Lambeth which reminded me for the ale Golden Glory. It also gave me an opportunity to meet our beekeeper, Camilla Goddard, of the five hives we have at the mausoleum in Greenwich and discuss the opportunity of running an introduction to the bees in the springtime next year – watch this space!

University of Greenwich Bees managed by Camilla Goddard

The second half of the summit was focussed more towards the community side of beekeeping. Elinor McDowall from Bungay Community Bees project told the audience about her experiences setting up a business model for community beekeeping. Tim Baker from Charlton Manor Primary School in Greenwich told us a story about how a swarm of bees had fascinated children and inspired him to set up a hive and a garden in the school grounds. Now, as Tim proudly boasts, when a swarm arrives in the local community it is his pupils that are called to collect the swarm. Perhaps we ought to invite his pupils along to the University to teach us? Steve Benbow from the London Honey Company gave a frantic presentation on his inspiration to keep bees from a maverick Ney York based beekeeper and how he has found the honey in London and urban areas can be better than that of the honey from the countryside.

Heidi Hermann from the Natural Beekeeping Trust focussed her attention towards the practices of beekeepers and looked at the practices of her peers to explain the bee losses. Heidi had a very convincing argument for a holistic and natural approach to beekeeping. She explained that she had been forced to look for alternative and sometimes illegal methods to protect her bees from pests such as the varroa mite, and avoid using standard pest control. Heidi stands by letting bees behave in a way most closely related to wild bees and like to let her bees swarm which breaks the brood cycle for the varroa mite. Her comments were warmly received by some in the audience although others mentioned the issue of a lack of understanding in the wider community – swarming bees are not especially dangerous but the general public tend to perceive them to be – and thus damages the reputation of the local beekeepers.

Sue Walton brought the end to the guest speakers by reminding everyone that it isn’t just about the honey bee. Buglife: The Invertebrate Conservation Trust, who Sue works for, are out to support all the pollinators whether they are honey bees, bumble bees, hover flies, butterflies or moths and by supporting all the pollinators we can ensure a future with coffee, strawberries and chocolate, three plants that pollinators provide that life continuing service for.

To wrap the evening up Rosie Boycott, the Chair of the London Food Board, announced the launch of the Capital Bee funding scheme, which will see 50 beehives awarded across London along with all the equipment and training to become a competent and responsible beekeeper. After the conference the Co-Operative provided wine while promoting their Plan Bee campaign a cheeky poke at Marks and Spencer’s Plan A. Plan Bee sets out that Co-Op farmers are not allowed to use neonicotinoids in their practices to protect the plight of bee.

Overall the conference gave a fascinating insight in the world of beekeeping and the issues surrounding it. One thing that was very clear from the conference is that there is a growing number of people looking to take up beekeeping and ‘Save the Bee’, and the University of Greenwich – now with no fewer than five hives across our campuses – can stand up and be counted amongst the bees growing number of advocates.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Christmas Carols, Parties, Meals and Meetings

It has reached that time of year where everything seems to come with a Christmas theme, this evening is full of excitement as Kat will be singing in the Carol Concert at the beautiful Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul in the Old Royal Naval College, Queen Mary building. Also this evening we have the Facilities Management Christmas party, so we can celebrate listening to Kat’s singing with a glass of mulled wine later on.

The Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul at Greenwich

Tuesday was the London Universities Environmental Group (LUEG) Christmas special with workshops on Green IT and Environmental Legal Registers and a big get together with London based People & Planet members to work together on our preparations for Green Week. Green Week is set for February 7th – 14th and has a love theme as a result of coinciding with Valentine’s Day and the strap line ‘Love your Future, Love your Planet’ will be the message spread across the country by the various People & Planet groups.

Without a People & Planet group here at the University of Greenwich the Sustainability Team has decided to take up the reigns and organise some events for Green Week in February. Our Sustainability Champions have been set the task of getting their department to contribute and our champions are currently working away on their ideas for February. If you would like to get involved please email the Sustainability Team and we will help you run an event for it. If you want to find out more about Green Week and People & Planet have a look at their website.

This week has also seen the launch of Walking Works at the University and three lunchtime walks this week, Iain has had great success with his two walks at Avery Hill, marching through the snow and taking in the fresh air. At Greenwich on Wednesday we managed to scale the hill up to the observatory and look at the breathtaking views of London, meet our bees in the Mausoleum and learn some fascinating nuggets of information from our resident expert Alison Lawrence. These walks of course all contributed to our efforts towards the walking challenge, and I can reveal as of 11:30am December 10th I have worked off the equivalent of 2.65 mince pies this week! The University’s partnership with Walking Works is for the following 12 months so expect to see a lot more walking taking place over the campus throughout 2011. To register and work out your mince pies earned through walking go to:

Sunset and Snow at Avery Hill

Walkers at Greenwich
Yesterday saw a meeting between Sodexo, SUUG, ABM and the Sustainability Team to draw up plans for Fairtrade Fortnight at the University. ABM as usual were full of bright ideas for the fortnight and still enjoying the wave of success from receiving all those awards at the Good Food on the Public Plate awards last week. Keep an ear to the ground and eye out for more Fairtrade promotion during 2011 and the Fairtrade Fortnight from February 28th – March 13th. Fairtrade Fortnight 2011

Monday, 6 December 2010

Green Cleaning Up at the Sustainable Food Awards

Guess what? It’s been very busy with the Sustainability Team again recently with a whole load of different goings on.

Firstly we are going to do a little self congratulating. Last week Kat was at the Good Food on the Public Plate Awards and picked up not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE awards for our efforts on sustainable food! Through ABM (the main caterers at the University) we have been awarded for ensuring:

- Only Marine Stewardship Council fish is purchased
- Only free range eggs are used
- Only organic milk is used
- Red tractor meat is purchased as a minimum
- Fairtrade and organic coffee is offered at all sites

The Good Food on the Public Plate Awards celebrate best practice of the public sector organisations who recognise their responsibility to spend money on food produced in a way that achieves environmental, social and economic benefits for London and further afield. Through the achievements we have been awarded for the University is ‘helping to sustain a market for farm assured products and birds kept in humane conditions, guarantee a fair price for farmers overseas and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.’ The University has a strong Sustainable food policy in the pipeline and continues to promote sustainable and Fairtrade delicacies across campus.

Kat enjoying the glamour and glitz of being in the Sustainability Team at Greenwich
Last week has also seen the introduction of 100% recycled toilet roll in the University. Recently we retendered our cleaning contract and wrote sustainability credentials into the process for tendering and into the contract itself. Along with the toilet roll we have seen ‘Green Planet Solutions’ cleaning products introduced, new energy efficient cleaning machinery and we are also about to start experimenting with the Eco-cube waterless urinal system.

A monumental effort on Kat’s behalf this week led to the draft version of the Carbon Management Plan being submitted to Anna and Mark from the Carbon Trust and we now start the process of getting the plan ready to go to the University Court in the new year. The plan aims to set out a succinct and detailed strategy for the University to cut its carbon emissions over the next five years and set out targets for the next ten years, once this whole process is complete we will post up a link so that you can have a peruse of it.

This week we also see the launch of Walking Works at the University with John from the Sustainability Team and Alison from Greenwich Campus FM offering a scenic walk through Greenwich Park on Wednesday for all those interested (meet 12:30 outside Dreadnought Library). Iain Metters is organising two walks at Avery Hill Campus on Tuesday and Thursday (from David Fussey at 12:15) and all of this is thanks to a great initiative by Living Streets to get more people to consider walking as a viable means of transport and as a good, accessible and very cheap way of exercising. You can also sign up to the Mice Pie Challenge and work out how many mince pies you are burning off with your walking efforts.

In other news we are still interviewing for the Fairtrade internship, looking forward to the LUEG Christmas lunch tomorrow and getting ourselves prepared for the Fairtrade and biodiversity meetings coming up later on in the week.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Greenwich Bees and Avery Hill Snow

It is an incredibly busy time in the Sustainability Team at the moment with the first draft of the Carbon Management Plan due this week, Fairtrade Internship interviews and a carol concert! If that wasn't enough last week we had the launch of our Green Impact workbook, three Green Impact workshops (one at each campus) and John was sent away for two days of waste management training with CIWM and Revise.

Amongst all of that we have still managed to take a few photos and check on our new bees at the Greenwich Campus and take a moment to absorb the snowy view from our office window.

Overlooking London and Greenwich Campus from the Royal Observatory

The bees at the Greenwich Mausoleum

Looking accross Avery Hill Park towards the Mansion Site

Avery Hill Park

View from the Sustainability Office

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Sustainability Champions Launch Day

Last Tuesday was a big day for the University of Greenwich and its plans to develop a more sustainable and environmentally friendly culture across the staff and student body. The Sustainability Team has been boosted by the launch of the Staff Sustainability Champions Network and the Green Impact Workbook.

Deputy Vice Chancellor Neil Garrod

Members of staff who have volunteered and been nominated by heads of department to become the local champion for sustainability within their department converged on the Court Room at the Greenwich Campus for launch of the Sustainability Champions Network and the Green Impact Workbook. Deputy Vice Chancellor Neil Garrod was there to show his support and that of the senior management at the University for steering the University of Greenwich towards becoming a leader in the sector for reducing carbon emissions and promoting sustainable practice.

The Staff Sustainability Champions Network is the main thrust of the University’s attempt to reduce its carbon footprint through behaviour change. Staff Champions will attend campus based workshops where they will work together in identifying environmental and energy saving opportunities and how to go about implementing positive changes in their workplace. While communicating the sustainability message from the Sustainability Team to the wider University community they will also feedback from the community and help to drive the sustainability agenda at the University.

The reduction in carbon emissions from behaviour change can be quite difficult to measure but reports have suggested that anywhere between 5-15% carbon reduction can be achieved through good housekeeping. The Staff Champions will be playing into a wider University Sustainability Policy and carbon management plan that hopes to achieve a 35% reduction in carbon emissions on a 2005 baseline by 2015 and 50% by 2020.

To kick start the project the University has been working with the National Union of Students (NUS) to give our staff champions a workbook with low or no cost, easy to implement tasks that work on reducing energy usage and waste and improving procurement, travel, biodiversity and communication. The Green Impact project was initially piloted at Bristol University and the following year a further 21 universities became involved. This year the University of Greenwich is one of over 30 universities taking part. The Green Impact and Staff Champions Network has been well received with almost every department and school represented and some with multiple champions as well.

Tuesday’s launch event went well and the training session revealed that a number of offices and departments were already performing well in particular areas. Particularly interesting to discover that Admissions at the University is operating a paperless office, lots of departments have set up their own toner cartridge recycling collections, lots of our staff champions were cyclists and everyone was keen to say they were good at switching off and recycling. Two interesting revelations came from the champions from the Vice Chancellor’s Office and the Students Union revealing that Tessa Blackstone the Vice Chancellor goes round the campus switching unnecessary lights off and the Chief Executive of the Students Union cycles into work every day.

Clearly there is an appetite for positive environmental improvement at the University and the Sustainability Champions Network will help us work together, share best practice and bring about the steps to move the University closer towards its environmental and sustainability aspirations.

John starts off the Staff Sustainability Champions introducing themselves

Staff Champions taking over the Court Room

Staff Champion from the Business School Mary introduces herself to the group.

Friday, 22 October 2010

First signs of winter in South London.

Autumn is most definitely here and we are fast moving towards the winter. With the first frost this week now is the time to collect all those sloes you haven't yet plucked from the blackthorn bushes around the Avery Hill Campus. It has been a good mushroom hunting season this year, I have spotted many of the fabulous fungi on campus this term and will be doing my last mushroom hunting trip of the year this weekend on the North Downs of Surrey, not too far from us in South London.

Along with welcoming the colder seasons back we are also welcoming back Kat who has returned from Borneo ready to steer the Sustainability Team through to next spring. With the colder weather we also have to note people are starting to look towards the controls of their radiators thinking about cranking them up and making their offices meccas of warmth. Of course I would never tell people to sit in the cold all winter but perhaps we ought to have a look in our winter wardrobe before we all get a bit overzealous with the heating. Our friends at Do The Green Thing have come up with a rather marvellous idea, have a look here:

The good news is that thick woolly jumpers are definitely making a come back this season! For some reason they always do in winter?

In the meantime to make sure you don't waste too much energy (and money) this coming winter now will be a good time to invest in some extra loft insulation, it is probably even cheaper than you think and very easy to install. In fact we love loft insulation so much at the University of Greenwich we have been adding to and improving out current insulation all through 2010 to try and keep us all that little bit warmer this winter. Of course body insulation is a very good idea at this time of year, keep an eye out for those woolly jumpers as sported by Green Thing in the video above, and of course feel free to send in a picture of yourself in your most prized woolly jumper - I may even be able to wangle a prize for the most hideous. If you are going to turn the heating on make sure you do your best to keep the heat in your room, close the windows and look out for any drafts. If you do find a draft on campus make sure you report it to Facilities Management and if you find one at home you could try making your own draft stopper.

We can now also look forward to winter with the excitement of knowing that our Staff Sustainability Champions Network will be in full swing. On the 9th of November staff members from various schools and offices from across the University will be coming together at the Greenwich campus for the launch of the Champions Network and the Green Impact workbook. Staff Champions will be given a set number of tasks to achieve a bronze and a silver standard for their local area, there will also be several other awards to look out for including a gold award, most outstanding contribution to sustainability over the year and various others. We are also looking to generate some competition from our friends at the University of East London as they will be launching their Green Impact at the same time.

University of East London Stratford Campus
 We have also embarked on our first Biodiversity Steering Group Meeting, initially looking at the Avery Hill Campus the group has discussed a wide range of potential projects to be investigated further. Food growing spaces, wild flowers, managed woodlands, pooled streams, restored ponds and compost heaps were amongst the topics of conversation but before we dive straight in we will be surveying the campus and seeing what we already have. Debbie Bartlett, the University's very own environmental conservation expert and senior lecturer was on hand to give the advice while the sustainability team, campus management, resources and ground staff were all represented around the table as well. Debbie will be charging the student involvement on the group so look out if you're an Environmental student we could be seeing your input soon too.

The Dingle on the Mansion Site: Up for restoration?
I shall keep you updated on how we progress from here with regards to the Biodiversity Group, and if all goes well perhaps I will also be looking for people keen to try their hand at a bit of food growing on campus.

For those of you who we met at the GET Opportunities Fayre, we have your details and we are currently looking at projects that you can get involved in. of course if you see there being an opportunity for a project that you would be really keen to sink your teeth into don't be afraid to jump the gun and come and find us or send us a message to tell us what you would like to do.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Photos from Southwood Lodge

I went along to Southwood Lodge this morning to see if I could get any decent photos of our bees for our friends in the PR department. Bees are not easy to photograph! They are constantly moving but I did manage one photo that I was happy with.

One of our honey bees at work

While trying to capture the bees I also found some other interesting bits and pieces in the Southwood Lodge garden.

Our hives in the garden

A few common puffballs

Unidentified mushroom


Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Sustainability Train at full steam.

It has been a little while since I last posted here on the Green Greenwich Blog, largely due to the non-stop nature of everything going on here! It barely feels like we have had a moment to catch a breath here at the University and it looks like it is going to be that way for foreseeable future.

Where's Kat hiding?

The Sustainability Team is somewhat reduced at the moment with our Captain Kat Thorne exploring the rainforests in far and distant lands but John and the Gnome have been hard at work in her absence. Most notably on the Higher Education Carbon Management Plan where we have joined forces with the Head of Estates and the Building Services Manager to keep the University chugging along in getting the plan ready for early next year. Expect to see numerous projects appearing spread across all the departments of the University all with measures in place for cutting our carbon emissions and working towards the targets set out by HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) and the Climate Change Act 2008.

Last week Sustainability and Marketing were knocking their heads together to work towards an exciting campaign to promote everything ‘sustainability’ at the University with conversation moving from the website, to fridge magnets, to computer games, staff and student engagement and potential competitions for our students to get involved with. Speaking of students getting involved we have found a space on the brand new shiny Biodiversity Group for one lucky student who lives at Avery Hill to assist with the direction we want to take our biodiversity projects. I’m hoping that this is going to lead to new era of environmental understanding and diversity on the Campus here at Avery Hill and there already seems to be interest for restoring the dingle, reinvigorating the part of the River Shuttle that runs through the campus, creating a wildflower meadow, building an allotment and planting fruiting trees.

On the subject of fruit I am delighted to announce that I have been reaping the benefits of being based here at Avery Hill and have spent at least two lunchtimes wandering around picking the delights the campus has to offer. On the menu last Thursday was a dish I have never tried cooking before – Quince Crumble. It’s delicious but a very different ingredient to any that I have used before. The quince has an incredibly sharp taste which you must compliment with buckets of sugar and cooking for long lengths of time, once this is done however you have an unforgettable flavour which reminds me of the taste of the Toxic Waste sweets! Not a great name for a sweet but they are delicious if you like that sort of thing.

Quince Crumble (Mine wasn't quite as beautiful!)

If you want to give the Quince Crumble a try here’s the recipe I followed. The next quince dish I will try will be Quince Membrillo, which the Spanish like to eat with cheese.

Tonight I will be attempting something a little bit different with another fruit I have found on the Avery Hill Campus. Tonight is Sloe Gin Night! I have picked roughly 50 sloe berries which have been placed in the freezer (Sloes you traditionally pick after the first frost but I am inpatient so I’m creating a fake frost by putting them in the freezer) they will be removed this evening, will go through the torment of being meticulously pricked with a needle and then placed into a big bottle of cheap gin. No need to go for an expensive gin here, the sloes will overpower the flavour anyway. Add a little sugar and then place in a dark cupboard until Christmas. Christmas Day, get the gin out and serve to all your friends and family. Boxing Day, stay in bed!

Sloes, Sugar and Gin - A recipe for success!

In other news I have been working hard on the preparations for the launch of our Sustainability Champions Network which is looking like it will be on the 9th of November. To go hand in hand with this we will also be launching our Green Impact workbook so our Champions will have a great project to get going with right from the onset. Next week we have the first meeting of the aforementioned Biodiversity Group, a visit from Joanna Romanowicz from the NUS, LUEG meetings, the GET Opportunities Recruitment Fair and a whole load of other goings on. Looks like it’s full steam ahead for little while longer then.

Monday, 13 September 2010

There's a buzz around the University of Greenwich

There's a buzz here at the University of Greenwich. We have been working hard here at the Sustainability office and have some exciting new developments and have made progress across a few areas since I last updated you.

Firstly that buzz you may be able to hear if you have been around the Avery Hill Campus recently. We have our first University of Greenwich bees. In the gardens of Southwood House we have a few fuzzy friends buzzing around our new set of hives. Our bees are of the honey making variety (maybe if you are really nice to us we will be able to make some available to you) so expect to see some University of Greenwich branded honey in the future.

Keeping with the theme of biodiversity we have found a few more interesting species on campus here at Avery Hill, a Mullberry Tree has been found, plenty of blackberries have been harvested, an oak tree that must be well over 100 years old has been spotted and few interesting species of fungi too - though I haven't been confident enough to harvest any mushrooms yet over a fear of an upset stomach.

Mushrooms in the Southwood House garden
We have been toiling away in preparation for the new academic year at the University and preparing ourselves for Freshers' Week. Expect to find us represented at both the Avery Hill and Greenwich Campus fayres and looking for members of our new People & Planet Group, telling new students about the recycling facilities at the halls of residence and distributing all sorts of information regarding anything to do with sustainability to anyone willing to listen.

Svetta our new intern has been busy scouring the University for information on the recycling facilities and we expect we should be able to put out a reasonable guide covering all the facilities, policies and practices across the University as a whole in the near future. Helping us along the way have been a few RAs and you can expect to meet some of them at the Freshers' Fayres next week.

The University has also had it's first Fairtrade Steering Group meeting, attended by SUUG, Sodexo, ABM and representatives from the University itself, who will be trying to gain Fairtrade accreditation for the University by increasing the number of Fairtrade products on campus. As well as the lovely Fairtrade products you can expect to see on the shelves you should be finding sustainable food too - the University is finalising it's sustainable food policy as we speak.

My biggest excitement recently though has been the arrival of a draft Green Impact Workbook in my inbox. A little while ago Charlotte Bonner from the NUS dropped by to meet some of our already enrolled sustainability champions to get ideas for making the University more environmentally friendly. So far she has sent 40 ideas across to us to peruse, adapt and comment on before we get the workbook finalised when she returns from cycling the Col du Tourmalet in France - an enduring test of strength and guile that I am all too familiar with! There is A LOT more to follow on this one and I can't wait to keep you updated as we progress!

Friday, 20 August 2010

What have we been up to this week at The University of Greenwich?

Have you ever reached Friday afternoon and stopped to think what have I done this week? Well after about three seconds we hadn’t thought of anything after a few more we realised that we have done a fair bit!

This time of year is a big time of temptation on the Avery Hill Campus at the University, everywhere you walk you can see fruits looking bigger, juicier and more delicious than ever. Just this week I have spotted my second fig tree, several blackthorn bushes (sloes grow on these), our director of facilities has found a bounty of quince, elderflowers have been noted, a rogue tomato plant has popped up in a flower bed, and there are countless blackberries in almost every bush! This is all after only spending a few minutes wandering around the Southwood site, who knows what we’ll find when we go hunting on the Mansion site next week?

So my eyes have been searching for the fruits of our campus this week as we have been spending a lot of time thinking about biodiversity. 2010 has been declared the International Year of Biodiversity by the United Nations and this week has been the Unofficial Sustainability Team Week of Biodiversity. As well as spotting all the aforementioned treats on campus we have been thinking about growing wildflower meadows on campus and considering whether to plant some more fruit trees here too. Please send us your suggestions!

In all this research I have come across a few bits and pieces that will be of interest to anyone who likes going outdoors in the late summer and stocking up on nature’s treats. If you are a resident of East London you will probably be interested in Hackney Harvest who have their first harvesting this weekend and have been spending the last month or so creating fruit maps of Hackney and the East London area. The Hackney Harvest lot have been inspired by Abundance Sheffield who have put together this brilliant booklet documenting everything you need to know about rediscovering urban areas as orchards abundant with fruits. This time next year expect to find a University of Greenwich fruit map and plans for homemade jams, jellies, pies, ciders and gins if I get my way.

As well as getting excited about fruit we have been planning to get a lot more students involved in helping out with sustainability next year, the wheels are in motion to create the first University of Greenwich People & Planet Group and to have a regular stream of volunteers and interns coming in and out of the Sustainability Office. Find us at the Freshers’ Fairs in September to join the People & Planet Group and at the GET Opportunities Recruitment Fair on October 13th to become an intern with the Sustainability Team (of course if you want to talk about internships, or the People & Planet Group beforehand make sure you get in contact).

Whilst not wandering around the campus I have been wondering what the best methods are for training up our staff sustainability champions, and in the digital age instead of burying myself in books and papers I have been straining my eyes across a million and one websites pooling together the best little bits and pieces from here, there and everywhere for our champions to feast on. One of the highlights I have come across is The Big Energy Challenge slideshow put together by the Bath and North East Somerset Council for their main public sector bodies. If you have a few minutes to spare it’s certainly worth flicking through and passing on to your friends and colleagues who are interested in saving energy.

Kat has become the co-chair of the London Universities Environmental Group (LUEG) which is busy setting its agenda for the next year. LUEG is a collective of London university based sustainability motivated professionals determined to reduce the environmental impact of London universities by sharing best practice, ideas, workshops and advice on everything from reducing the energy bills to reducing waste, saving water to buying Fairtrade and creating compost right through to building bee hives. Which reminds me of another thing, on Monday Kat and I will be meeting a local bee keeper to discuss the possibility of having some University of Greenwich bees – honey and crumpets anyone?

Friday, 13 August 2010

EcoCampus Bronze Award

I am delighted to announce that the University of Greenwich has now been awarded the EcoCampus Bronze Award.

EcoCampus is an environmental management system (EMS) that the University signed up to to try and put in place processes, practices and systems to drive the University towards reducing it's environmental impact and implementing best practice. The EMS is based on the internationally recognised ISO 14001 and works in stages of accreditation.

Bronze is the first, then Silver, Gold and last of all Platinum. The idea is that the scheme gives you achievable targets to reach on a step by step process towards the final award which is the equivalent of the ISO 14001. So far only three universities have achieved the Platinum award and now we can say that the University of Greenwich has achieved the first major step towards that ultimate aim.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

University's take on our Re-use project.

Good news here at University of Greenwich Sustainability HQ. Our work is being recognised and being celebrated by the University as a whole today as our Re-use project ends up on the front page of the University website.

Lovely jubbly!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Students Reducing Waste and Helping Charity at the Same Time!

The University of Greenwich has saved over one tonne of reusable items that would normally end up in the skip and local charities are the ones to benefit. Working in partnership with an organisation called CRISP, students and volunteers at Avery Hill Campus saved items that would have otherwise been thrown out at the end of the year. These items have been collected by CRISP who are now redistributing these items to a number of London based charities.

Isabelle in amongst the donations

The project was spearheaded by the University’s Sustainability Team, Kat Thorne and John Bailey, and run by their Sustainability Projects Intern, Isabelle Monk, who recruited student volunteers to help promote the project and collect the waste to a central point on Avery Hill Campus. Students, who typically leave behind and throw away a lot of waste when they return home for summer, were encouraged to identify items that they no longer wanted but could be re-used by charity. By the end of the project the students had donated over one tonne of items (that’s one kg per student!) including televisions, clothes, kitchenware, books, stationary and a lot of bedding.

All the waste collected together

Due to the variety of items donated there will be a number of charities that will benefit, much of the bedding will be going to local homeless shelters and will be keeping some of London’s homeless people warm this winter. Clothes will be filling the rails of the local charity shops and being sported by many living in refugee camps across the world while many of the other items will be sold on to raise funds for the likes of Red Cross, Traid, St. Mungo’s and Help for Heroes.

The Halls reuse scheme has run in a number of other London universities previously but this is the first time at the University of Greenwich. The pilot project has been widely hailed as a success and will be rolled out across all the halls at the University next year. The success of the project was thanks to everyone involved including Housekeepers, Porters, Student Accommodation office, and the student volunteers, especially Construction Management MSc student Ashrith Patel who dedicated a lot of time to the project. Thanks to everyone that was involved.

The guys from CRISP and the full van

Tomas helps with collecting a TV

Friday, 16 July 2010

New Recycling Bins at Greenwich Campus

The University of Greenwich is taking exciting steps in its plans to take the University towards the goal of ‘Zero to Landfill’. Soon you will notice that there will be new bins appearing across the Greenwich Campus for two different waste streams: Mixed Recyclables and Non recyclables.

The new bins have arrived so that you can take the waste that you generate at work to the nearest recycling bin and separate the waste accordingly. We expect that these bins are going to contribute to a significant increase in the amount of waste that is recycled at Greenwich Campus.

To further the project’s success we will eventually ‘bin the bin’. Case studies in many other universities have shown that by removing under desk bins while providing sufficient recycling bins as an alternative has been an effective way of reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill. Bywaters, our current waste contractor expect a rise to between 80-90% recycling rates achieved by removal of the under desk bins. If we hit these rates of recycling it will be huge achievement and it will be largely thanks to staff cooperation and participation. That means you!

The recycling rate at the Greenwich Campus is currently a little less than 50% through the existing bin system (Dec 2009 – May 2010) by raising this we can start to see the University achieve significant savings. Landfill tax is currently at £48 per tonne and steadily rising, therefore reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill should bring substantial benefits for the University.

Monday, 5 July 2010

TFL Cycle Challenge 2010

TFL Cycle Challenge

The TFL Cycle Challenge has now come to an end and the University of Greenwich staff have impressively logged over 10,500 miles over the course of the month. This mileage covered on bicycle amounts to nearly three tonnes of CO2 saved and over 400,000 calories burnt or the equivalent of around 1,500 mars bars!

In the University of Greenwich team the top riders were dominated by members of the Sustainability Team and the Vice Chancellor’s Office. With Neil Garrod and Tom Barnes training for their ride from Brussels the miles were being racked up between them thick and fast although they didn’t quite manage to beat the combined mileage of the Sustainability Team.

The Top 5 riders within the University are as follows:
1. John Bailey (Sustainability Projects Officer) – 716 miles
2. Neil Garrod (Deputy Vice Chancellor Resources) – 698 miles
3. Kat Thorne (Sustainable Development Manager) – 630 miles
4. Tom Barnes (Deputy Vice Chancellor Research & Enterprise) – 625 miles
5. Adele Brookes (Architectural Assistant) – 624 miles

The Challenge brought together staff members from all three campuses and a wide spread across the University departments, some of whom enjoyed perks such as a free breakfast during bike week and a scenic cycle ride along the River Thames. There are now discussions of how to get even more people on their bikes to ride to work and future events to promote sustainable travel options across the University as a whole.
Tom Barnes & Neil Garrod on their bikes

As well as the University’s achievement together there are lots of individual stories to take note of through the Cycle Challenge. Several members of staff tried cycling to work for the first time and many have decided to continue to do this from now on. Tim Brown has now stated his intention to cycle to Greenwich from Kilburn every day as a direct result of finding his bum on the saddle through the cycle challenge.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Re-use of University Gym Equipment

A couple of weeks ago it came to the attention of the Sustainability Team that a refurbishment of the gym at the Medway Campus meant that a lot of old gym equipment was going to be thrown out. This is a regular occurrance within the public and private sector, not necessarily gym equipment, but perfectly usable equipment / furniture / etc. is thrown out every day.

There was a very simple solution to this issue of trying to prevent this equipment from being scrapped and recycled. An all staff email was circulated and within minutes there was a lot of interest in the equipment. In the end two thirds of the equipment was saved and given two fantastic new homes.

Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys took a third of the equipment for their GCSE and A-Level Sports students to use for weight training and a third went to a local rugby club. In the end only a small amount of the equipment was scrapped for recycling.

All staff emails are a great way of spearheading re-use at work and whenever you are about to get rid of old office furniture or anything that is still in a working and reusable condition it is worth while sending an email around. In this case it also ends up with a great story for the Sports Department. Look at how pleased Iain Metters looks here.


Welcome to the University of Greenwich Sustainability blog.

Here is where you will find stories, articles and news regarding the Univeristy of Greenwich and it's actions moving towards a more sustainable future.