Meeting Janet Philp (School of Biomedical Sciences Administrator) is quite a treat. She is one of the people responsible for Hugh Robson winning Silver at the Edinburgh Sustainability Awards 2010/2011 and has been recently presented with the National Environmental Hero Award.
Her endearing, reassuring presence makes it so easy to see why, but there is a lot of hard work and thoughtfulness behind it all.
Hugh Robson was the only lab based building to enter the competition last year, but: “we already had green initiatives in place like being on recycle paper or changing the lights in the corridors to sensors. The awards helped bring everything together. And also provided scope for things like: why aren’t we looking at how far we travel? We might not have a lot of control over it, but are we even thinking about it?”
It’s the small changes that lead up to big achievements and one good example is rationalizing the printers in the building.
“Once you challenge people as to “why can’t you walk 10 yards to the printer?” they really don’t have a good excuse. I used to have a fridge in this office and I used to have a printer, whereas now if I want to print anything I send it to the printer next door to the computing office. Every order for printers goes through them now, so to get a printer you would actually have to have some special circumstances to qualify for it.” Looking at travel has been quite a challenge and even if researchers are required to take long distance trips for their valuable work, there’s still plenty to do on a local scale.
“Our school is split between Hugh Robson and Little France and there’s been a constant argument about the time it takes going to Little France, and the fact that you can’t park there.
“We bought two pool bikes for people to go to Little France fully equipped with helmets and everything - it won’t take as long as the bus or the car, actually. And it’s so much more than just reducing your carbon footprint. You cycle to Little France, you get there just as quick as you would have by car or bus, plus you’ve had 30 minutes of exercise.”
In terms of energy savings:
“We’re following on things that [the Sustainability Office] did up at Ashworth (link for Ashworth Labs) we are now looking at the temperature of our freezers.
“Naturally scientists want absolute guarantees that nothing will affect the samples and even if we have received all the data from Ashworth which was really good, in the end it goes down to we’re not storing the exact same thing as they are. We’ve just started a programme of rolling freezer defrosting to avoid any false readings and once the data is collected an informed decision will be made.”
The same goes for the vending machines in the building which are stored in a small area where they produce a lot of heat:
“They were put in before Sainsbury’s was built, but if you want a drink or some chocolate now, you could actually walk to Sainsbury’s so the debate for our next Green meeting is what to do about the vending machines. I think they will most likely be removed. It will become a business decision as the percentage of the takings that the school gets might not cover the percentage of the electricity that the machines use. Not to mention that there are plenty of shopping places around.”
About Janet’s Outstanding Personal Contribution?
“We’ve had switch off days in the building since 2009 using this as base line to work out what we’re producing and where we can save, so I think the award was mainly for keeping go with that.” Green initiatives have become systemic in the building. One of the Accounts staff noticed the waste of paper on orders from our own stores and came with the idea to reduce 4 bits of paper from every order and that had nothing to do with me that was just people thinking things on their own now. Which is where you want to get it to.”
Spoken like a true hero - a National Environmental one.
This article was published on Dec 12, 2011
This article was published on Apr 18, 2013