Top 10 tips to start improving your department’s environmental impact right now (for staff)

By Alex Green, on 10 April 2014

The Sustainability Team are often asked what actions staff can take to start improving their department or division’s environmental impact. And while these are often specific to the huge variety of activities undertaken at UCL, we think there are some basic steps that are likely to apply to everyone.

So, here are our top 10 actions to get started saving money, energy, resources and carbon in your department.


 1. Identify your impacts. You know that phrase, ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’? Well, it’s often true. Building up a picture of your impacts on the environment (purchasing, travel, building use, etc.) is an important step in tackling them. And you may find some unexpected impacts when you speak to others in your department. Download a template to help you identify your impacts and get started.

2. Get connected. Making change happen can be a challenge, so don’t go it alone. There are a huge number of staff across UCL taking action. Find colleagues who share your interest and identify your department’s Green Champion and Departmental Environment Officer. If you don’t have one, why not consider becoming one yourself? Even if you don’t fancy the responsibility of becoming a Green Champion, you can join the mailing list to be part of discussions and receive updates.

3. Switch Off. It’s a simple act, with a big impact. Whether it’s switching off non-essential lights, monitors or lab equipment, get into the habit of doing it where possible. If other staff repeatedly leave things on, why not ask your Departmental Administrator to include a reminder about it in one of their email updates? You could even consider getting timers for some equipment.

4. Spread the word. Getting the word out is an important part of improving your department’s environmental impact. Whether it’s putting up posters or stickers to remind staff to switch off lights and computers, sending out regular eco-updates or using your department’s social media or website to show off your green credentials; this will all help remind staff and students that this is a priority and something they should all be involved with. Get in touch with the Sustainability Team if you’d like any help or resources to do this.


5. Use WARPit. We don’t half buy a lot of stuff at UCL. WARPit is a free service for all staff to loan, lend and give equipment and resources. It’s all about reducing what we buy, spend and waste. Watch a short film about the service and sign up now!

6. Get informed. We’ve put together an Environmental Awareness e-learning package, to boost your sustainability literacy and give an introduction to sustainability at UCL. It only takes 20 minutes to complete, and you’ll get a certificate to show off your participation. And if you undertake procurement in your department or division, why not take some sustainable procurement training too?

7. Lug your mug. Are you a tea fiend or coffee addict? Get through a lot of disposable cups? Bringing in your own reusable cup will help save a lot of waste, and you can even get 10p off drinks from UCLU cafes. 


8. Travel actively. Making your journeys more active is a great way to improve your health, save money and reduce your environmental impact. Why not start walking or cycling to work once a week? If you cycle already and you know someone in your department who might like to try it, be a bike buddy and help them get comfortable with the roads.

9. Book a departmental environmental induction. We’d love to come and say hello to your department. If you think you can get enough of your department in a room together, why not book a 15 minute slot for us to come and present an introduction to sustainability? It could be a great way to start conversations, and perhaps get those all-important senior staff engaged. We could event come and speak to new students in the department or you can adapt the induction slides on the Green UCL site

10. Be part of the Green Impact programme! Green Impact is a UCL-wide environmental competition and award scheme. It’s all about staff and students working together to improve their department or division’s environmental impact. Your department may already have a Green Impact team or you might want to start one. It’s based on an easy-to-use online workbook that breaks down the challenge of making improvements into manageable chunks. Green Impact 2012-13 finished in April, and the new programme will begin in September ’14: be ready!

Can you think of other actions that all staff could take that should be added to this list? Let us know! Email green-ucl@ucl.ac.uk or tweet us @greenucl.