2016/17 Quarter 4 report

Head of Social Responsibility and Sustainability Programmes, Michelle Brown, reflects on progress made in the fourth quarter of academic year 2016/17.

2016/17 Quarter 4 highlights

The Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability (SRS) facilitates programmes to catalyse action and collaboration across campus.  It is through the actions of staff and students around the University that change happens.  Our infographic summarises some of the things that we can count but we are really inspired by some of the stories that staff and students have been sharing with us.


Through our Energy Engagement and Communications programme, we aim to ensure that all staff and students have access to information and tools to reduce their energy impact at the University. 

By the end of July 2017, 148 Energy Coordinators, 79% of whom are ‘active’, took practical action within their work units to identify savings opportunities. 33 new coordinators joined the network in 16/17 bringing us 2 short of our target. An internship in spring 2017 supported an evaluation of materials and provided support for trialling student volunteering matched to staff coordinators.

Since the launch of the Sustainable Campus Fund a year ago, 27 projects were approved for funding with a combined payback of 3.4 years and estimated carbon savings of 1,253 tCO2e and cash saving of £248,800.

The Sustainable Laboratories programme continues to identify options and opportunities in laboratories.   Watch this video if you would like to learn more about this.

On Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy, A PC specific reuse project was piloted over the last 18 months with seed funding from Zero Waste Scotland and involving Information Services, the Estates Waste & Recycling Team, SRS and the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation. This enabled 544 PCs to be reused bringing in over £100,000 cash savings, diversion of 8,000kg from waste and over 100 tonnes of CO2e saved and additional linkages with the Edinburgh Remakery on Leith Walk providing computers not used internally for community benefit.

For Fairness in Trade and Sustainable Procurement, risks and opportunities in prioritised supply chains have been assessed. The Modern Slavery Working Group has continued to review social responsibilities in relation to modern slavery risks, and to feed into the next Statement.  The University of Edinburgh has signed up to participate in a pilot with NUS and the Fairtrade Foundation to redevelop and relaunch the Fairtrade University and College Standard. This aims to make the existing standard more impactful, inspiring universities to take a broader approach to ethical procurement, and adding in a student auditor element.

We have been supporting the University with its Community Engagement Strategy and in the Spring of 2017 were delighted to welcome Sarah Anderson as the Community Engagement Programme Manager and Eppy Harries-Pugh as the Communications Coordinator. 

35 sections of the University from every campus, group and college are now involved in the Edinburgh Sustainability Awards, finding new ways to conserve resources, save energy, streamline scientific and research practices, fundraise for good causes and build links with the local community.  Over recent months an intern has been working with teams to collect case studies and we will be looking for student volunteers to support the department audits in the months ahead. 

We will look to develop further the projects and programmes that support student experience and participation on SRS issues. The Living Lab project database will enable student and staff projects to build on past learning and link to organisational priorities.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to the SRS Survey.  This helps us to understand issues and concerns important to students and staff and work with others to address next steps. 

We are excited about the plans for the year ahead and look forward to working with you.  Get in touch. Get involved.

Michelle Brown

Head of SRS Programmes

Contact details


  • 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).