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.