Sustainability at Edinburgh Global
The University is committed to becoming more socially responsible and sustainable. Edinburgh Global and SRA have been working to match this commitment as departments and have made great strides with their Green Space project.
The Edinburgh Global sustainability team
Sustainability is a subject that many staff members hold close to their heart. When the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability began the Sustainability Awards, Linzie Soave started the first sustainability team, bringing together Edinburgh Global and SRA staff members who shared common interests and a belief in the power of making small changes to create great impact.
Team members like Joshua Holton got involved because of a belief in the influence the University possesses to make a stand for sustainability.
I got involved because the University, being a huge and globally-influential institution, should be doing everything it can to promote sustainability. If 30,000 staff members make behavioural changes to limit their individual energy use, this will make a big difference to the environment.
Others like Avril Spray brought a passion and experience about health and well-being.
It was a perfect opportunity for me to bring my experiential knowledge from my non-working role into the workplace. I have a passion for everything surrounding ‘self-care.
After achieving both the Bronze and Silver Sustainability Awards, the team wanted to create a project that could be continued in the long term, above and beyond attaining the Gold Award. When brainstorming ideas, the sustainability team looked outside to an unused patch of weeds and mud and saw an opportunity to create a garden. This is how the Green Space project began.
In August 2017 Edinburgh Global and SRA received approval to create a garden behind 33 and 34 Buccleuch Place to promote sustainability, staff well-being, biodiversity and grow edible produce. The sustainability team showed great innovation and dedication in installing and maintaining two planters behind the building, as well as two pots at the office’s entrance in which to grow herbs and salad greens.
Through doing this, we hope to achieve a higher level of well-being amongst the people in our office, by offering a green space for relaxation and as an outlet for physical activity. We planted a small amount of healthy and sustainable produce that can be used by staff, improving the offices environmental impact.
The sustainability work doesn’t stop there. The project even promotes re-using and upcycling of waste and materials such as coffee granules from the office used as plant nourishment, and broken keyboard keys as plant labels.
Once grown, the produce is shared around the office, making a fresh and healthy addition to office teas and lunches –
The mint leaves can be added to water hot or cold and have wonderful benefits for our digestive systems.
The sustainability team support staff at every stage, including teaching them how to harvest salad and herbs without damaging the plant. The project also lowers stress by encouraging staff to take breaks to go outside for relaxation and physical activity, promoting healthy bodies and minds for University staff.
I value greatly the importance of having a green space that can offer a place for staff to neutralise from the sometimes frantic pace of work. Offering a safe space for staff that allows them a place to just be, with no great expectations. Somewhere they can breathe easy, potter and reconnect with the earth is an amazing idea.
Even some of the plants themselves, such as lavender, help to induce calm and reduce stress while simultaneously increasing biodiversity by attracting bees and butterflies. Another significant contribution the garden makes is its potential to decrease the amount of plastic we use when buying produce from the supermarket, simultaneously lowering the carbon footprint that results from transporting that produce.
Gold Sustainability Award
Edinburgh Global and SRA have made great achievements in sustainability over the years. The departments were awarded the University’s Bronze and Silver Sustainability Awards in the space of two years. Now, as a result of this project, they are also proud recipients of the Gold Sustainability Award.
Congratulations to the sustainability team – Kalina Charvala, Linzie Soave, Joshua Holton, Avril Spray, Alistair Hudson, Vicky Duckworth, Jaz Tamplin and Rachael Smithson – for making the garden a great success!