Bournemouth University turns to gamification to cut emissions and plastics use

Bournemouth University has revealed an employee engagement scheme has enabled it to avoid more than 500kg of disposable coffee cup waste and reduce its carbon emissions by more than 400 tonnes over an eight-month period.

Since January, staff at the University have clocked up 130,000 miles of sustainable travel to and from campus

Since January, staff at the University have clocked up 130,000 miles of sustainable travel to and from campus

The JUMP behaviour change scheme was introduced to all 2,000 university employees earlier this year after a successful six-month pilot in 2017. It rewards staff for taking part in activities that support one or more of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – such as travelling sustainably, minimising their plastic waste output and reducing their water use.

Using leaderboards, gamification and team and individual prizes, the scheme allows staff to report and track their positive behaviours, such as walking to work or using reusable coffee cups and water bottles. The staff team to have made the most changes are then rewarded with a choice of prizes which are designed to benefit the environment and the local community.

Bournemouth University’s sustainability manager, Neil Smith, said there had been “fantastic levels of engagement” with the scheme. To date, the University has avoided more than 500kg of disposable coffee cup waste and reduced its carbon emissions by more than 400 tonnes. Staff at the University had already helped slash energy consumption by 14.6% across active departments, during the six-month pilot.

In a survey of participants, the University found that two-thirds of staff felt they had improved their sustainable behaviours at work.

The scheme was developed by employee engagement firm Green Rewards and rewards staff for signing the Sustainable Development Goal Accord and pledging to embed all 17 Global Goals in their department’s activities.

Indeed, the University’s vice chancellor, John Vinney has signed the Accord as part of the scheme, committing the entire University to align its development strategy for 2025 with the Global Goals. The strategy, which comes into effect next month, includes a goal for the University to support the development of the region as well as having a “positive impact worldwide” on sustainability challenges.

Sustainable studying

Following the success of the scheme over the past eight months, Bournemouth University will now develop new sustainable activities for staff to take part in at the start of the new academic year.

The university is just one of a number of higher education institutions that work with Green Rewards to encourage individuals to live more sustainably. Other clients include the University of WinchesterBrunel University and the University of Bristol, which is aiming to achieve carbon-neutral status by 2030.

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is also part of the JUMP programme and has rolled it out across the UK and Ireland after a successful pilot led to a 5% average electricity reduction and 500,000 disposable cups being correctly recycled.

Sarah George


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