Gamification delivers more than 200,000 sustainable actions for UK universities

EXCLUSIVE: More than 200,000 positive actions have been recorded over the last academic year by the JUMP employee engagement project which encourages university staff to carry out behaviours that boost sustainability.

The Jump scheme, run by sustainable programmes supplier Green Rewards, encourages employees to engage in energy saving, sustainable travel, waste reduction and other green actions.

Organisations which run the scheme include a number of borough councils and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), as well as ten UK universities. This week, Green Rewards revealed to edie that a record 216,348 positive actions were recorded at universities in the last academic year as part of the programme.

Actions aimed at reducing plastic waste were the most popular under the scheme, with 82,540 positive actions taken collectively. For example, the University of Strathclyde diverted 2,939 disposable coffee cups from entering landfill by using reusable alternatives – the equivalent of 30kg of waste – during a five-month trial of the scheme.

The scheme has also seen Bournemouth University achieve an 11-tonne reduction in its Scope 3 emissions, after staff travelled 26,000 miles to and from campus sustainably. Elsewhere, Bournemouth University reduced paper use by 2% and the University of Reading achieved a 7% improvement in energy efficiency.

Green Rewards’ co-founder Graham Simmonds explained that the scheme is set to be rolled out to Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Glasgow this year, and that participants could soon be able to track their actions using a new Fitbit platform.

“It’s great to see how universities and our private sector clients are utilising JUMP to engage their people and deliver real, measurable results,” Simmonds said. “We are constantly developing our technology platform and communication services and I and my team are looking forward to some exciting new developments such as Fitbit integration.”

Last year, it was revealed that more than one million positive actions had been recorded through the JUMP scheme.

The scheme currently works using an app-based platform that encourages participants to track their positive actions and earn ‘green points’ for their team. The staff that collect the most points using the gamification platform are then made eligible to win vouchers to spend on retailers and charity donations.

Study breaks and SDGs

In related news, weekly magazine Times Higher Education (THE) has revealed that it is developing a new global university ranking to measure institutions’ success in delivering the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The annual publication currently ranks universities on factors such as grades attained and student satisfaction – but will include metrics based on 11 SDGs as of April 2019, with THE set to develop metrics against all 17 Global Goals “in the near future”.

Metrics currently being explored include the number of graduates in health professions, the proportion of women in senior academic positions and policies and practices regarding employment security. An initial draft of the metrics will be developed in partnership with Vertigo Ventures, an organisation that helps institutions identify, measure and report the environmental and social impact of their work.

THE’s editorial director of global rankings Phil Baty said the ranking, which will be open to all accredited universities that teach undergraduates, “moves well beyond established ranking parameters of research and reputation”.

Sustainable studying

The announcement reflects a growing commitment from academic institutions to deliver sustainable growth through low-carbon and resource-efficient measures. For example, Oxford Brookes University recently became one of the first educational establishments in the UK to use demand response as a way of reducing energy usage in student accommodation.

Elsewhere, the University of Surrey has received a €762,000 grant from the European Union to conduct research into the development of smart cities, while Bournemouth University has installed a 95KWp solar system on its “fusion building”. The array will provide the University with more than 100,000kWh of electricity annually.

Sarah George

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