Posted Thursday 22 April 2021
The theme for Earth Day this year is ‘Restore Our Earth' and staff and students at Kingston University have been playing their part in recent months through their involvement in an award-winning programme designed to support sustainable practice within organisations.
To date, 92 staff from 24 different teams across the institution have signed up to the sector-wide Green Impact programme, led by Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK), with some 78 sustainable actions already undertaken as part of the scheme.
Stephanie Todd, Operational Sustainability Manager at the University, explained how Green Impact was helping the University achieve its sustainability goals. "It's great to see so many teams already signed up and enthusiastically taking steps to work and live more sustainably," she said. "The actions staff are taking are aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and directly contribute towards KU's Institutional commitment to the SDG Accord."
Sean Woulfe, the University's Director of Estates and Sustainability, was among those who chose to get involved, with the team having come up with a number of ideas to make environmentally sustainable contributions on campus. "Our team was keen to play its part and there have been lots of small changes we've instigated that all add up," he said. "Personally, I have been labelling sockets in our offices to signify which ones can be switched off as people leave for the day and those where a check is required before doing so. We have also agreed that portable electric heaters are a no-no. I've learned that small things can make a difference and that it's important to think through every aspect of our work to make it more environmentally friendly. Working as part of a team really helps as everyone has a chance to contribute."
Every action receives points which result in awards being given out for those who have completed the most sustainable actions.
Students also are getting involved with Green Impact through verifying evidence staff have uploaded to their online toolkit, which records the sustainable acts they have completed - providing students taking part with valuable official IEMA (International Environmental Management and Assessment) training and auditing experience.
Rachel Walls, an operations co-ordinator at Kingston University, spoke of how the scheme was helping her become greener in daily life. "It's taught me a lot and has also been a great way to get to know my colleagues better and share ideas and tips," she said. "Our team has started taking regular lunchtime walks and we've also shared some of our favourite healthy recipes. Some of us have looked at switching energy suppliers to ones which are not only cheaper but also greener. We had a great discussion about transportation as well, and how working from home has significantly reduced our CO2 emissions as a group, as we have not been travelling into the office."
Kingston University's achievements in sustainable building design were recognised with a BREEAM Award for best Public Sector Project – Post Construction last month for the renovation of Kingston School of Art's Mill Street building, a project completed in March 2020.