Monday, 23 May 2011

The Greenwich Sustainable Procurement Officer

Hello! The Green Gnome has asked me to use this blog to introduce myself – my name is Abbie and I’m the new(ish)Sustainable Procurement Officer at the University!

Abbie Curtis - Sustainable Procurement Officer Extraordinaire
I started a few weeks ago after being given just one weekend notice between my interview and my first day! Since then it’s been a bit chaotic – trying to understand the University’s complex procurement processes and work out how to most effectively communicate sustainable procurement to the hundreds of people that are involved in procurement decisions across all three campuses, as well as the thousands of companies supplying the University. I’m based in the Procurement & Business Services department which means that as well as successfully embedding sustainable procurement (fingers crossed!) I can constantly annoy colleagues about one-sided printing and lights being left on – brilliant! At the moment I’m finalising our first Sustainable Procurement Policy & Strategy so have a look out for that on our Procurement & Business Services webpages soon.

Before joining the University of Greenwich on this temporary contract I worked at a corporate social responsibility (CSR) consultancy. I was involved in dozens of projects right across the spectrum of CSR and sustainability including community, employees, the environment and supply chain. In particular I was fascinated by the complexity, challenges and opportunities presented by global value chains.

City of Bath
I completed a masters in Business & Community at the University of Bath last Autumn and my dissertation was on the takeover of Cadbury Plc by Kraft last year – an excuse to do lots of research into chocolate! Aside from chocolate, my interests include being a closet twitcher (Avery Hill’s Green Woodpecker and dozens of Chaffinches being my campus favourites so far) and utilising the UK’s marvellous public transport to visit friends across the country. Last weekend I went to a Eurovision Party in sunny Bournemouth!

Green Gnome's favourite act from Eurovision 2011

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Green Impact Audits

Last week the University completed several days of auditing the different departments that had taken part in the Green Impact Universities project. The University's sustainability champions have spent the last six months implementing changes within their departments to bring about environmental improvements accross the Univrsity as a whole. Sustainability intern Stefano Maggi joined in the day of doing the audits at the Greenwich Campus and summarises the experience below:

Last Thursday and Friday, 5th and 6th May, the campuses of the University of Greenwich were audited for the Green Impact Universities scheme, a departmental accreditation scheme which encourages University staff to make changes at work in order to help reduce the negative impacts on the environment.

Collection point for used toner cartridges

As intern at the Sustainability Team of the University, I decided to take part in this interesting activity. I joined the team on 5th May, when the auditing took place at Greenwich and Avery Hill campuses.

During the morning, John Bailey, Adam White, myself and the other participants were introduced to the Green Impact project and trained by Joanna Romanowicz (Green Impact Project Officer at the National Union of Students) to ensure the quality of the auditing.

Collection for good on one side paper

The role of an environmental auditor is that to examine, check and evaluate the environmental performances of an organization through a semi-structured assessment. In practice, our task required us to visit University’s schools and offices in order to verify their actions in compliance with the Bronze and Silver Green Impact Workbook.

These workbooks provided us with the criteria that we used to evaluate the work of every department audited. Essentially, what we did was ask relevant questions for every criterion and request evidence to check compliances. Such evidence could take several forms like, for instance, communications sent to staff members, labelled bins, posters stuck on walls, printer settings, paper used in offices and so on.

The mentioned criteria refer to different environmental themes and issues of communications, recycling, electricity and energy, procurement and travel. When the criteria is not met, the auditor can issue a Compliance Action Request (CAR) which requires the department to address the outstanding issue and provide the auditor with suitable evidence within a week.

Office thermometer
Once the training was complete, we could begin the actual audit. John and Adam lefto to audit the Avery Hill Campus while Heather Lilliman, Joanna and myself took charge of auditing the Greenwich Campus.

We started with a collective assessment at the Accommodation Office of the Greenwich Campus after which I and Heather audited the Student Union, the ILS department and the Humanities and Social Sciences School. Throughout the auditing I could see that my University is really moving toward a more sustainable use of resources and a less harmful impact on the environment.

Posters promoting walk to work week and how to double sided print
For example, I noticed that most of departments/offices now induct new staff on significant green issues and encourage them to do their part from their first day of work. Furthermore, they make use of shut down plans, use stickers on light switches, draw up check-lists aimed at identifying energy saving opportunities and try to encourage colleagues to recycle. Finally, most of printers and photocopiers are currently set to duplex (double-sided printing) and the paper used is often recycled.

Environmental auditing training at the Medway Campus

So I can definitely say that the work of the Sustainability Team has been very effective so far and its members have been able to sensitize University’s staff awareness of environmental issues.

Personally, I found this opportunity very interesting since I could gain valuable experience and learn something new and useful. I am proud to study in such “green” academic institution and confident that the University of Greenwich will keep on improving and reach ambitious goals in the near future.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

London as a Sustainable Fish City?

The University of Greenwich is one of 11 London Universities to sign up to the Sustainable Fish City campaign from Sustain.

The campaign follows on from the London 2012 Olympics stating that they will only buy fish from sustainable sources and Sustain are asking the rest of the city to get on board as well and become the first 'Sustainable Fish City.' The campaign sets out a number of targets to be achieved by 2012 whether you are a university or college, multi-national corporation or just an individual citizen of London there are actions you can take to help London achieve this target.

At the University of Greenwich we have been doing a lot of work to develop a wider variety of sustainable food options and an increase in the amount of sustainable fish supplied is one of the feathers in our sustainable food hat. You can find Marine Stewardship Council certified fish being served on our campuses and it is no secret that Friday fish and chips is the meal most likely to persuade the Sustainability Team down to the canteen!