Social Responsibility and Sustainability

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Highlights from quarter three

Working with staff and students across the University, our team continued to progress work against priorities: carbon and energy savings; resource efficiency; supply chain social responsibility and sustainability; responsible investment; community engagement and links to learning and teaching.

2018 quarter three highlights infographic (download PDF to see/read it)

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We review our outcomes, outputs and inputs on a quarterly basis. Our Q3 Highlights Infographic provides a snapshot of where we are across a range of topics.

Community

Community projects have been supported via the grant funding from Corporate Services Group. The first round was advertised in November which committed £70,737 of funding for projects ranging from digitals skills for all, a women’s respite project, youth projects and a drop in centre. For further details see the Edinburgh Local section of the website.  

Awards

24 offices, 12 laboratories, 21 student residences and a range of student groups were recognised for their achievements across a range of sustainability topics at the annual awards ceremony in April. See the highlights and overview of the ceremony.  If you are interested in finding out practical actions you can take in your area of work or study get in touch. We are currently taking sign ups for 2018 and are also delighted to have a PhD student working with us to evaluate the programme.

Energy

On Energy, our team has worked closely with Estates colleagues to deliver 10 percent savings. £1.9 million of potential energy savings opportunities have been identified. Through the Sustainable Campus Fund, 46 projects have now been approved, with an average return on investment of over 300 percent. This will deliver the equivalent of approximately £350,000 of financial savings and 1200tCO2e of carbon savings per annum. That’s about 3 percent of our University’s carbon footprint which was included within the scope of our Zero by 2040 Strategy.   

A network of Energy Coordinators are driving practical action across the University in support of the Zero by 2040 Climate Strategy and working in their work units to identify savings opportunities. As of the end of April, there were 145 Energy Coordinators.  The Winter Shutdown campaign had a wide reach and the Big Summer Chill-out campaign is currently rolling out.

Laboratories

In relation to Sustainable Laboratories, work has been ongoing to identify practical actions for ventilation and cold storage savings.  An intern will also be joining us over the summer to support savings opportunities with freezers around campus.  A high proportion of the projects put forward to the Sustainable Campus Fund have been for laboratories around the University.

Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy

On Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy, working with Waste colleagues and through a network of over 150 coordinators across the University, we have continued to promote reuse meeting targets ahead of schedule.   Through the Waste and Reuse Portal (Warp It), close to £50,000 was saved in the last quarter and over £400k since the project started.  The water project is rolling out new drinking water points across the University so get your water bottle and fill up as the warm weather rolls in.  If you are keen on a cuppa don’t forget to take along your own cup. 

Sustainable Travel

On Sustainable Travel, a deep dive into our data showed that savings achieved in energy were matched by a corresponding increase in business travel emissions.  Focus groups with around 40 members of staff have helped to identify a whole range of options which could mitigate our impacts in this area.  We will be working with specific schools and departments to pilot a range of options. 

Supply Chains

On Supply Chains, we continue to progress work understanding risks and opportunities in priority categories. The University is participating in piloting a new universities Fairtrade accreditation with the Students Association and the National Union of Students.  With procurement we are supporting further efforts to improve transparency on environmental and social impacts related to suppliers.  The Make ICT Fair project is bringing together researchers at the University with civil society partners globally.  

The Department continues to share its own learning about our work and about the University as a Living Laboratory for social responsibility and sustainability.   

We look forward to working with you in the months ahead. Get in touch and find out more!

Michelle Brown

Head of SRS Programmes

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  • Michelle joined the University of Edinburgh in 2014 bringing nearly 20 years of international experience. Michelle is responsible for the organisation, planning, management and delivery of SRS programmes to deliver our strategies and commitments on climate change, circular economy, supply chains and community engagement. Prior to joining the department, Michelle was a Director in CSR Asia and worked as a consultant for the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and has consulted for numerous international companies and development organisations in China, Vietnam, India parts of Africa, the UK and Canada. She has served as a Director for VSO in China and previously taught on courses at the University of Hong Kong and at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT).