University of Exeter launches sustainability behaviour change scheme in drive towards net-zero

The University of Exeter has launched sustainable behaviour change scheme Green Rewards for its staff and students, as part of its vision to become a net-zero organisation by 2040.

Some 22,000 students attend the University

Some 22,000 students attend the University

Operated by JUMP, the scheme uses an app and other digital communications channels to encourage participants to engage in behaviours that reduce their waste, energy and carbon footprints while improving their health and mental wellbeing. Activities listed include walking or cycling instead of using cars, using reusable coffee cups and turning off electronics when they are not in use. In recognition of the fact that students and staff are spending more time at home and less on campus as a result of Covid-19, all actions have adapted versions for those working remotely.

Students and staff will be able to log their behaviours in exchange for ‘Green Points’. Each month, the University will provide prizes to the individuals and teams which amass the most points.

The University of Exeter will pilot the scheme with a “targeted” group of students and staff to begin with and is planning a full rollout within the 2020-2021 academic year.

It hopes that the scheme will help drive progress towards its long-term climate ambition of becoming a net-zero university by 2040. The target was set last year, after the University declared a climate emergency, and is underpinned by shorter-term goals with 2025 deadlines. These include halving long-haul air travel and reducing the amount of paper and plastic sourced by the University by half.

“We want our people to feel a part of our sustainability strategy, whether that’s across campuses, through remote working or as we welcome new students for the next academic year,” the University’s head of environment and climate emergency Emma Page said.

“We see Green Rewards as a key step in engaging with our people and helping them understand how their actions help us meet our carbon neutral targets.”

Jump journey

Last year, 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.

Other universities which work with JUMP include Nottingham Trent University (NTU), the University of Bournemouth, Brunel University and the University of Winchester. Outside of the higher education space, the Green Rewards scheme is being used by the likes of Manchester’s NHS Foundation Trust, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and Natwest Group, formerly known as the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

Sarah George



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