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Design the future of sustainability at UCL

Benjamin G MMeunier11 January 2019

(submitted on behalf of Eve Nelson, Sustainability Projects Officer, UCL Environmental Sustainability)

The UCL Sustainability Team are working to redesign the sustainability vision for UCL and we want your input!

 

Where are we now?

Our first sustainability strategy was created in partnership with the UCL community back in 2013.  Since then we have climbed 63 places in the People and Planet University League to become a first class university, testimony to staff and students across campus working hard to teach, research and operate in a more sustainable way.

  • We have reduced our carbon emissions by 14% over the last 10 years
  • All our new buildings are meeting BREEAM Excellent or higher
  • We send zero waste to landfill, and 65% of waste is recycled
  • We have over 60 departments taking part in Green Impact and 100 Green Champions

 

A new vision for sustainability at UCL

But is this enough?  UCL’s world leading research community is showing that we need to find solutions to live within our planetary limits and deliver social equality.  What better place to find and test those solutions than here at UCL?

We want to develop a shared sustainability vision for UCL, celebrating and integrating the breadth of activity around environmental and social responsibility issues currently taking place, and also collaborating beyond our community. Sustainability is a challenge and an opportunity for everyone.

Initial consultation with staff and students has led to three themes:

  • Sustainable literacy – enabling globally responsible citizens
  • Getting the basics right – providing the infrastructure to help our community make sustainable choices
  • Global research, local solutions – using UCL’s research to tackle operational challenges

Three signature campaigns are proposed to provide a focus for the activities: Wild Bloomsbury, Climate Change: Action! and Sustainable Stuff. Find out more here.

 

What do you want to change?

We want to hear your ideas and opinions. What should a sustainable UCL look like? What needs to change? Have you seen a great example of sustainability you think we should implement? What projects would you like to see under these signature programmes? And how can we make the strategy a success?

We greatly appreciate your input in our three minute survey. It takes less time than making a cup of tea!

Take our survey

UCL Sustainability Awards 2018: Library staff making a difference

Benjamin G MMeunier5 September 2018

The UCL Sustainability Awards ceremony was held on Tuesday 03/09 in the Jeremy Bentham Room (Wilkins building). The event was hosted by Richard Jackson (Director, Sustainability in UCL Estates) and Professor Geraint Rees (Chair of the UCL Sustainability Committee and Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences). Professor Rees presented awards to the teams which participated in the Green Impact scheme in 2018.

The awards are split between ‘office’ and ‘labs’, and special awards can be granted for projects. Awards rank from Bronze to Platinum, with an additional ‘Excellence’ category. The Awards were achieved as follows:
Gold – Completing the individual workbook as set out
Platinum – additional 20 points
Excellence- additional 40 points

Library Sites
Central Library Services (departmental award) Gold
Main Library Gold
Ophthalmology Library Platinum
Queen Square Library Platinum
Language and Speech Science Library Gold
Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health Library Gold
Royal Free Hospital Medical Library Gold
Cruciform Hub Platinum
Eastman Dental Institute Library Excellence
Ear Institute and Action on Hearing Loss Libraries Excellence
School of Pharmacy Library Platinum
Science Library Gold
Institute of Archaeology Library Platinum
Wickford Stores Platinum

In addition, the School of Pharmacy Medicinal Garden was granted a project award.

Each team received a Blue Planet 2 inspired Sustainability Awards trophy. Artist Joanna Atherton created these sculptures out of plastics found during beach cleans. Congratulations to all the staff who were involved in improving our sustainability this year, and particularly to colleagues across sites who contributed to the department’s 14 successful entries to the Green Impact scheme this year.


Library Services as a department achieved Gold for the first time.  Well done for a fantastic result!  The Library Sustainability Committee hopes to extend the awards to all library sites for Green Impact 2019, and we welcome any project ideas. If you want to get involved or find out more, please visit the Sustainability pages on LibNet: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/libnet/about/committees/sustainability

The Green Impact scheme is continuing to grow at UCL as more and more teams participate from across the university. As noted above, Library Services has performed very well, and for the first time the department as a whole was awarded a Gold award. Green Impact is also competitive, in a good-spirited way – UCL’s PALS Green Impact Team have consistently been the best-performing department at UCL. They shared the first prize in Green Impact in 2018, as joint winners with the Office of the Vice-Provost (Advancement). Can Library Services do better next year? The answer depends on each of you. During the event yesterday, there was a lot of emphasis on how small steps, individual actions, might seem trivial in isolation. But when those small actions are multiplied by 350 Library Services staff, or 50,000 in UCL’s community of students and staff, collectively those actions make a big difference.

And finally, to try and reduce the 1 million single-use cups which are thrown away every year at UCL, since Monday 03/09, UCL outlets are pricing single-use cups separately. So save money by using a reusable cup! More information is available at: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/greenucl/what-we-do/sustainable-food/ditch-disposable

Green Impact Excellence for Library sites

Benjamin G MMeunier22 September 2017

Last week, the Sustainability Team hosted UCL’s fifth Sustainability Awards ceremony. The event celebrated the achievements of 60 teams and over 100 Green Champions who took part in Green Impact, UCL’s Sustainability Engagement Programme.

UCL Library Services has performed strongly every year since Green Impact was launched at UCL, and this year was no exception. The commitment, creativity and hard work of many teams across Library Services sites was recognised through the award of six Excellence Awards, one Platinum, one Gold and two Silver. Three project awards were also granted to UCL libraries, which is a tribute to the ongoing success of teams engaging with the important agenda of changing behaviour and raising awareness of environmental issues.

This work is incredibly important, and it contributes towards our achievement of strategic objectives under the Sustainable Estate Key Performance Area of the Library Services Strategy. The Library SMT discussed Green Impact at its meeting in May 2017, shortly after the submissions had been entered. It was agreed that new approaches will be explored in the forthcoming round of Green Impact this year (2017-18), particularly to look into the feasibility of a single submission being put forwards for Library Services, bringing together the excellent work from across sites. This will be an agenda topic for the next Library Sustainability Committee, chaired by Phil Watson. On behalf of SMT, I would like to reiterate our thanks and appreciation to colleagues for the large amount of work which goes into achieving such success in UCL’s sustainability drive.

Below is a list of all the sites which have received an award in the Green Impact 2017:

Excellence

Eastman Dental Library

Bartlett Library

Queen Square Library

School of Pharmacy Library

Language & Speech Science (LASS) Library

Ear Institute and Action on Hearing Loss Library

Platinum

Cruciform Hub

Gold

Orthopaedics Library

Silver

Green Comrades (SSEES Library)

Royal Free Medical Library

 

Project Award Winners

Teams which have previously scored either a Gold or Platinum award are invited to run an Excellence Project.  Teams are expected to complete some basic actions to maintain their environmental performance, and can complete more if they wish, but they then undertake a larger project of their choice to retain their previous year’s award. Three Library Services teams were awarded Project Awards:

Silver

SSEES Library – The team focused on educating students and staff on the problems associated with plastic after discovering that a vast amount of plastic is washed up on Eastern European shores. The team have collected plastic, screened films and hosted workshops on the topic. They are planning to build a statue out of bottles in the library to raise awareness.

Royal Free Medical Library – This award recognises a project focused on engaging students and staff in sustainability. The Library organised a variety of events from Meat Free Mondays to trips to ByWaters recycling centre.

 

ExcellenceCalendula-officinalis-Pot-Marigold

School of Pharmacy Library – for creating a medicinal garden. Plants from the garden will be used in the teaching at the School. For more information see this article on the medicinal garden.

 

For more information on the Sustainability Awards, please visit, https://www.ucl.ac.uk/greenucl/greenucl-news-publication/sustainability-awards

If you wish to get involved in Library Services’ Green Impact activity, please discuss this with your line manager or with the Chair of the Library Sustainability Committee, Phil Watson.

Visit to Bywaters Recycling Centre with UCL Environmental Sustainability

Sharon AJames27 April 2017

On the afternoon of 2nd March I went on a visit to Bywaters, London’s largest waste management company, which is situated on the Lea Riverside. This was arranged by Hannah Biggs the Sustainability Communications Officer for UCL Environmental Sustainability. Part of Hannah’s job is to oversee the UCL Green Impact initiative and I attended the visit not only out of interest and to see the facility UCL’s rubbish is sent to but also to meet the criteria for this year’s award. On the day, a group of about 14 of us met at Bidborough House and headed off on the underground together to Bromley-by-Bow.

Bywaters on the Lea Riverside

Bywaters Recycling Centre on the Lea Riverside

When we got there we started off with a talk from David Rumble, Head of Strategic Development, who explained that when London won the 2012 Olympic Games their old property was required for the Olympic Park development. David was involved in relocating Bywaters to the current 9.2 acre site and a unique Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) was commissioned. Before this was installed in 2008 domestic and business customers were asked to segregate their rubbish prior to collection and this could lead to confusion. Using the MRF (affectionately called Merf by the staff) meant that customers could co-mingle their recycling.

 

MRF close up

The Materials Recovery Facility (MRF)

David explained the sequence of events the MRF goes through and then we did a tour of the facility to see the procedure that is undertaken from when a rubbish delivery arrives to when recycled material is despatched. This starts with rubbish being tipped onto the floor for a visual inspection and to check that it is not contaminated; for example material that is soaking wet will not be accepted for recycling. Also, anything that is in a black bin bag is immediately rejected as rubbish must be in a transparent bag.

Visiting the MRF

The group had to wear hard hats, high visibility jackets and protective eyewear to visit the MRF

The rubbish is then deposited into the first MRF container, a large open topped bin, and sent on a conveyor belt to another bin with bag splitters. After this it moves on a conveyor belt to a cabin in which staff pick out anything hazardous and it then continues around the large facility through a system of conveyor belts, staffed cabins and different containers. The large amount of rubbish at Bywaters means that is highly combustible so in a cabin that has manned control screens there is also a control panel for a large water cannon.

Control cabinWater canon controls

The cabin with manned control screens (top) and the control panel for the water cannon (bottom)

Among other procedures the MRF process includes cardboard being picked up by spikes and ending up in one bin, small items being sieved out and falling onto a conveyor belt below and a magnet picking out metal and depositing it into another bin. A cyclonic system is used to separate small items such as two dimensional shredded paper and three dimensional nuts and bolts before they go to different destinations. The end result is bales of cardboard, paper, various types of plastic and metal and a range of other materials that are delivered to external facilities for processing. For example, crushed glass will go off to make aggregate which is used in the building industry and mixed material items such as Tetra Pak and disposable coffee cups will end up as the filling in padded envelopes.

MRF Conveyor Belts

Cabins have staff filtering material and conveyor belts take various types of waste to different containers

At the end of the afternoon we all returned to the meeting room for tea and snacks and were able to ask any outstanding questions. I learned various things such as that Bywaters were just about to undertake a trial with UCL’s cafes to see if disposable coffee cups could have their plastic inner coating removed so that they could be recycled as high-grade paper. Also, that the centre would love customers to wash their waste before binning it but they have a drip test and as long as stuff doesn’t fall out when it is turned upside down it can be recycled. I asked about receipts and found out that all types can be recycled, including the kind made from thermal paper embedded with chemicals but that polystyrene is classified as one of the worst materials because it cannot be reconstituted. Food waste is sent to a firm called Bio Collectors where it is turned into fertiliser. We were also told that on average UCL recycles 60% of its waste but the aim is to increase this to 85%.

Tea time at Bywaters

Drinks and snacks in the meeting room

In conclusion, we were told that the MRF runs six days a week and processes 130 tons of recycling per year with nothing going to landfill. The 13 tons that cannot be recycled go to an Energy from Waste plant where it is burnt to create electricity. There are also four solar panels on the roof so the centre exports nearly as much energy to the National Grid as it imports. We were informed that because of these innovations Bywaters has set new recycling and waste management standards and that this makes it the most sustainable facility in the world.

Bywaters Reception

UCL Sustainability Awards 2016 – nominations open

Benjamin G MMeunier12 August 2016


This year Green UCL has been overwhelmed and inspired by the spirit of the UCL community and their contributions to making the university more sustainable. As a result Green UCL are hosting the UCL Sustainability Awards 2016 this September to celebrate.

This year, they are offering you the chance to nominate either your colleagues or yourself for one of their new prestigious sustainability awards. The award categories are as follows:

  • Building a Sustainable Campus
  • Embedding Sustainability through Engagement
  • Education for Sustainable Development
  • Making a Positive Impact on Society.

For more information on the awards and to make a nomination please fill out the Sustainability Awards nomination form. Green UCL will choose one winner for each award. The winners will receive their awards at the UCL Sustainability Awards 2016.

[shared on behalf of Hannah Biggs, Green UCL]sustainable campus

SSEES Library Green Group meets Global Citizenship Programme

AgneseRiva14 June 2016

On Thursday 2 June, the SSEES Library Green Group (aka Green Comrades) organised a screening of “Swamp Dialogues”, a documentary focusing on the people who live in the protected area of Romania’s Danube Delta, Europe’s second largest river delta (view trailer here). It is part of our Green Impact excellence project and was arranged in the context of UCL’s annual Green Impact competition, in collaboration with the UCL Global Citizenship programme, which offers a strand dedicated to the Danube. pic2

The screening was introduced by Eszter Tarsoly, Senior Teaching Fellow in Hungarian Language at SSEES and Course Leader on the UCL Global Citizenship Programme. It was followed by a discussion about the relationship between people living in protected areas and their environment, led by Sahil Nijhawan and Rafael Chiaravalloti, both PhD students at the UCL Department of Anthropology. The event was attended by about 60-70 people, and was rounded off by a Danubian food and drinks reception. It was well received as the positive feedback from students indicates.

“Genuine, funny and eye-opening, this film raised many questions about the Danube and those who have lived and worked there for generations.” (Rebecca Huseyin – for more feedback click here)

This academic year SSEES Library’s Green Group decided to participate in the Green Impact 2015-2016 competition with an Excellence Project for the first time. The team felt that a project is not only more engaging and inspiring to work on but also allows us to highlight the valuable resources the Library has to offer to our users and demonstrate the skills and knowledge of our Library staff.

There has been a growing interest in studying environmental concerns in the post-Soviet era. With SSEES Library’s geographical area focus in mind, we decided to hold a series of film screenings on environmental issues in Eastern Europe to support this new field of study and foster interest in the topic among different academic communities within UCL and the broader public. We identified a number of documentaries that address topics including human-environment interaction, energy sustainability and pollution in an Eastern European context.

Area expertise on the region has been a key factor in developing all the different aspects of our project. We conducted extensive research in relation to films as due to copyright issues we could screen only films which had not been commercially released. This made the task more challenging but also allowed us to present material never shown before in the UK. Our team’s diverse language and research skills helped us to browse websites to find initiatives dedicated to our topic and discover independent films. We relied mainly on green film festivals organised in East European countries, but we also browsed other sites in several languages and directly contacted directors and associations. Aiming to reach as many people as possible, we gained consent from the copyright holders to show the films to the public.

Liaising with other departments also contributed in an essential way to the success of the event. Our close relationship with the SSEES academic department allowed us to be included in the Global Citizenship Programme, and the initiative was praised by the team leader Eszter Tarsoly who thanked us for bringing such a special contribution to the module. Eszter’s introduction was insightful and concise and provided invaluable background information to better understand the film. Due to the nature of this documentary, we also decided to contact the Anthropology department where people welcomed our initiative and allowed us to find two students working on similar topics to lead a discussion after the film. Their talk was extremely thought-provoking and inspiring. pic1 The cooperation among these different realities proved to be enormously beneficial to all of us: our green group found amazing support for our event in terms of guests and visibility, the PhD students welcomed the opportunity to share their knowledge and develop their communication skills, and the Global Citizenship Programme was able to broaden its offer for its participants.

To complement the screening, we set up a temporary themed book display in SSEES Library, presenting library materials related to the Danube region and environmental issues in Central Eastern Europe generally.

During the summer vacation we will also prepare a Libguide dedicated to various resources on environmental issues in Easter Europe which will be available on our website.

In conclusion, we would like to highlight diversity as a key characteristic of our work environment that made the conception and realization of this project possible. We are a varied team comprising of people of different nationalities and with different interests, and each of us carries a bag of knowledge from different past experiences. This allowed us to contribute in different ways to the project and build up a complete, well rounded event.

Further screenings are planned for the new academic year 2016-2017, so look out for posters and announcements if you are interested in environmental issues in a cross-cultural context.

SSEES Library Green Group (Antje Brauer-Maxaeia, Agniya Dremach, Zuzana Pincikova, Agnese Riva, Suzana Tamamovic, Andrea Zsubori)