What does London Met's Sustainability Team get up to over the summer?

Typically, you'd think universities don't get up to much when students go home. Not for London Met. Rachel Ward and her team have been up to all sorts to improve London Met's sustainability. Here's Rachel to tell us more.

What does London Met's Sustainability Team get up to over the summer?

It’s been a busy summer at London Met and we’re getting ready to welcome our new students back with improved facilities and a great programme of sustainability events. I’m looking forward to the events we are doing with Hubbub including “Sew Spooky” to promote making Halloween costumes rather than buying an outfit you wear once and “Bright Friday” the antidote to Black Friday!

I’ve recently been working on producing the University’s first environmental strategy which has really helped highlight how much of a shift there has been in sustainability from being something that was very much focused reducing energy consumption on back of house maintenance to being considered in day to day work across the University.

A good example of the extent sustainability is considered in our work is the refurbishment of our classrooms and offices. Previously, the main focus would be on fixing problems with the room and reducing energy consumption where possible but now many more areas are considered. The process starts on site from moving existing staff out of the area, leaving behind items they no longer need or want. We collect anything from cups to plants, which are given to our Swap Shop where students and staff can either exchange items or donate to charity. We often find stationery such as old ring binders which have been emptied in the move, we collect these and offer them to students for free. In 2017, we handed out 150 boxes of stationery which previously would have been disposed of. Unwanted books are given to the library who are able to sell them and split the proceeds between charities and purchase new books for students. Furniture which isn’t being reused is put on a platform called “Warp-it” so that local charities and other universities can claim it. Before we used this, furniture would be recycled but now it is re-used, we’ve saved £25,000 in the first year of using the scheme. Any other items such as ceiling tiles, lights, air conditioning parts, trunking, which can be re-used, are salvaged.

We use Ska assessment on refurbishments which sets parameters to ensure the sustainability of every component of the room is considered from the recycled content of the carpet to the efficiency of the lights. The redesign of classroom learning and teaching technologies has focused on using fewer electrical components. The energy consumption of all IT and AV equipment is checked during various usage stages before purchasing equipment. Local suppliers and installers have been used to reduce delivery/travel miles which has been implemented through our Procurement Policy. Our IT department work closely with suppliers to have computers sent in crates rather than individual packaging to reduce waste and include running costs in the purchasing decisions of new computers. Staff occupying the areas are given a welcome pack which tells them how lights and cooling are operated and how to use the recycling bins.

The work to reduce our carbon footprint doesn’t stop once the refurbished areas are occupied. Computers are remotely monitored so they can be shutdown at night to reduce energy consumption. Heating and cooling is monitored via our Building Management System which is altered weekly depending on the occupancy of the rooms. We also run staff and student engagement programmes to ensure that the areas are being used as efficiently as possible.

We can’t wait for students to see the results of a busy summer!

Rachel Ward is the sustainability manager at London Metropolitan University. London Met is launching two new sustainability courses, which Rachel will teach on. Find out more: http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/corporate-social-responsibility-andsustainability---msc/ http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/corporate-social-responsibility-andsustainability---adv-dip-pro-dev/

Rachel Ward

Topics: Energy efficiency & low-carbon
Tags: | Corporate Social Responsibility | packaging | refurbishment | students
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