Head of SRS Programmes Michelle Brown reflects on Quarter 3 of academic year 2015/16: a busy time for the department with progress in areas such as resource efficiency and responsible investment.
Working with staff and students across the University, the Department for Social Responsibility & Sustainability continued to progress work against 7 priorities: carbon and energy savings; resource efficiency; supply chain SRS; responsible investment; localised advice and projects; community / public engagement and links to learning and teaching. We review our outcomes, outputs and inputs on a quarterly basis with monthly internal updates. Our Q3 Highlights Infographic provides a snapshot of where we are across a range of indicators.
In relation to Carbon and Energy, our team has continued to support the development of an updated climate strategy and reporting. Practically speaking, the engagement team is working with the Energy Office and Energy Coordinators across the University to identify opportunities for savings. 115 Energy Coordinators, 75% of whom are ‘active’ took practical action within their work units to identify savings opportunities. More than 100 materials packs distributed to labs and energy coordinators, including around 1,500 ‘Switch’ cards. 12 new energy coordinators were recruited in the last year. In Biological Sciences, we are working with colleagues to test the materials and possible impact on electricity consumption in laboratories. A project to look at building standards and best practices globally has also kicked off. Get in touch if you would like to hear more.
Subject to court approval, the Sustainable Campus Fund will soon go live as a financing vehicle to parties within the University for implementing energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other sustainability projects that generate cost savings.
We are continuing to support reuse initiatives as part of a wider priority in resource efficiency and a vision of a circular economy. An estimated £72,000 has been saved through the Warp-it Waste and Reuse portal and great progress has been made in developing a in a PC reuse project (supported by Zero Waste Scotland). We are working with Remade in Scotland and other social enterprises..
On Supply Chain SRS work continues to look at risks and opportunities across prioritised areas. Through a partnership with Electronics Watch the first factory assessments are taking place which will support action to protect the labour rights of workers in their global electronics supply chains more effectively. A recent workshop on Modern Slavery brought together experts from around the University and we continue to progress work linked to the Conflict Minerals Policy and other academic and student research projects
Linked to Responsible Investment we were delighted to have a visit from Cary Krosinsky from the Yale Climate and Energy Institute who shared learning from some North American Universities in this area and helped to kickstart ideas on living lab projects linked to learning and teaching. Our annual reporting to the Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI) on our approach to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) integration in our investments is submitted.
Some other projects have included looking at benchmarking approaches across the Higher Education sector, supporting a university initiative linked to the Race Equality Charter Mark, identifying some next steps for staff development on social responsibility and sustainability, developing the Good Food Policy with catering and procurement as well as a food growing on campus procedure, and of course running the Sustainability Awards. We were delighted to see such an interest from the Academic Network across a range of topics and helping to identify next steps on SRS Living Lab projects.
We look forward to working with you in the months ahead!
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.