This year the THINKlab decided to take part in the Green Impact Initiative; an environmental accreditation scheme which inspires teams to reduce their carbon footprint and environmental impact.
Led by the University’s forward-thinking Environmental Sustainability department (which works with university wide teams to identify sustainability issues in their office, laboratory, catering area or grounds) the scheme is a nationally run behavioural change programme set up by the National Union of Students and is recognised by the United Nations.
Teams work through a comprehensive tool kit which gives hints and tips as to how individual teams might challenge perceptions and influence staff to make small and unique changes for a more positive environmental impact. Teams can undertake additional special projects dedicated to their environment and must document their activities so a full audit can be undertaken at the end of the scheme.
With it being the first year, in order to gain a better understanding of the programme and to work through the programme’s toolkit, the THINKlab formed a small staff steering committee to meet monthly and to consider a range of questions and actions in the toolkit’s six key areas; energy and water, waste and recycling, travel, procurement, communications, and health and wellbeing.
As well as simply encouraging staff to take the stairs more often, not leaving computers on overnight, or ensuring that they are using the correct recycling bins, the tool kit also challenged behaviours which might have impacts on wider stakeholders such as minimising meeting handouts, reducing plastic use in the lab, social areas and at events, and communicating ways to travel to the University other than driving.
After submitting the documented work for the toolkit, the THINKlab team met with a team of auditors to speak about their achievements and challenges. The results were announced at an afternoon presentation at the Old Fire Station where the team were presented with a silver award from the Environmental Sustainability team and Lord Keith Bradley (Chair of the University Council and former Member of Parliament).
The Green Impact auditors summarised the THINKlab’s first year involvement: “This team is new for this year and they have made a fantastic start. The auditors thought the team were very passionate about Green Impact and improving the THINKlab’s environmental performance, and that Simon demonstrated evidence of going the extra mile to encourage thoughtful discussions with the team on these issues. The team have encouraged staff to use reusable items and staff regularly have remote meetings with local and international stakeholders, reducing the need for travel. They have also started using the THINKlab Twitter account more actively to raise awareness of their Green Impact work and demonstrate the benefits with their stakeholders.”
Simon Hadfield, THINKlab Facilities Co-ordinator said: “This is the first year we’ve been involved with the Green Impact Initiative and we’ve made a really great start. After forming our monthly steering group, all our colleagues have really got on board with the different parts of the toolkit and shown their support with making positive changes to reduce both our team and individual carbon footprints. There’s a lot more we can do in the Lab and we’re really excited about demonstrating this further with our different stakeholder groups.”