Quarter 2 highlights: catalysts for change
Head of SRS Programmes Michelle Brown reflects on the second quarter of academic year 2016/17, with long term University strategies and targets shaping further development of our programmes.
Have you taken a look at the most recent SRS report? You can read about our University’s annual performance on climate targets, waste and resource use, responsible investment, fair employment, community engagement, widening participation and a range of other topics. What topics or issues are you most concerned about? Join us on 8th March for a Staff & Student workshop and share your ideas on what a socially responsible university will look like in 2040!
Part of our mission within the Department for Social Responsibility & Sustainability is to deliver and facilitate programmes to catalyse action and collaboration across campus. We recently reviewed our Department strategy document which sets out our priorities and key programme areas for the next 3 year period. On key topics we continue to prioritise carbon and energy; resource efficiency and circular economy; SRS in supply chains; responsible investment; and links to research and teaching and community and public engagement.
We review our outcomes, outputs and inputs on a quarterly basis and get together as a team to interrogate the findings. The purpose of this reporting is to be transparent and accountable on how the programmes of work facilitated and managed by our team are performing. Data is critical for helping to communicate performance in relation to SRS. However, not everything can be clearly articulated in a measurable indicator. We realize it’s the stories of the staff and students who are involved in programmes that can help to bring to life the changes taking place around the University.
Has your office, laboratory or student residence participated in the Sustainability Awards? This is a great opportunity to get involved and provides an easy to use framework to prioritise local action. Feedback from participants is that it also helps pull teams closer together. Join us for the Awards ceremony on 28th March where you can learn more about the great work of teams around the University.
We are delighted that the Energy Coordinator network continues to grow with 11 new coordinators joining in the last quarter. We have been working with this group and Estates to identify high quality projects for the Sustainable Campus Fund to help enable the University to achieve its carbon and energy targets. 10 projects have been approved with a combined payback period of 2.5 years and a combined Return on Investment of 629% and predicted annual saving of over £100,000. A Utilities Working Group screens these projects which then go to the Director of SRS and the Director of Estates for sign off. We're still accepting submissions for ideas so do register your interest for the Sustainable Campus Fund if you'd like to know more.
We are seeing more and more interest from students who are working on SRS issues as part of their programme or course and who are keen to work on practical projects around the University. Teams of students from the Case Studies in Sustainable Development Course are currently working on their SRS projects. We are keen to link with our own academic and student research capabilities to solve social responsibility and sustainability issues relating to our infrastructure and practices. A Living Labs toolkit is being developed in collaboration with Edinburgh Living Lab to provide practical guidance on all aspects of running a Living Lab project.
We recently welcomed new interns to our office who are working on a variety of short term projects including: student volunteering and participation in SRS; modern slavery research; energy engagement and communications and water usage. We will report on the outputs of their work in the coming months!
With the launch of the University’s new Community Engagement strategy we are supporting the implementation of this and will be recruiting for 2 new part time fixed term posts.
Get in touch if you would like to find out more.
Michelle is responsible for the organisation, planning, management and delivery of comprehensive and effective social responsibility and sustainability programmes in line with the publicly expressed ambitions of the University.