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Green Impact Excellence in universities and colleges

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Over the last few years, Green Impact Excellence has supported a huge number of students’ unions to develop their own high-impact sustainability projects. But did you know that a growing number of universities and colleges are starting to do the same thing?

At the University of Exeter, a number of teams who have been accredited Gold more than two years in a row have taken the opportunity to lead on their own projects, taking the institution’s sustainability credentials to the next level of innovation.

“We wanted to give our top performing teams the chance to step away from the online workbook and work towards something new”, explained sustainability projects officer Bryony Wilde. “We knew these teams were highly engaged with sustainability, and we knew they would have their own ideas about ways in which they as a team could contribute to improving sustainability at the university”

The result has been an incredible six new projects led by teams from across the university, ranging from offsetting carbon from travel taken by international students, to investigating flexible working practices.

The estate development service is currently communicating the positive aspects of campus development to engage new audiences with sustainability. “The project encouraged us to think about the impact of measures already taken to see how effective they had been”, explains team member April Arnatt. “This provides assurance for future investment, helps to guide future plans and offers a very positive story to tell to our stakeholders”

Working on something entirely different, Barbara Bodkin of UPP Residential Services tells us about some of the positive impacts which her team’s food composting in student halls project has achieved ranging from reduction of food waste to landfill, to raising awareness around food waste through a number of articles in the student newspaper.

Not only does Green Impact Excellence help universities and colleges to work across a huge breadth of sustainability issues at once, it engages new departments, and joins up dots with other green initiatives championed by both the institution and the students’ guild or union. It can also help to energise teams who might feel that they’ve done all they can to drive sustainability.

“It’s been an incredibly positive initiative, and has really created a stir in departments, reviving their interest in Green Impact”, Bryony tells us, looking to the future and further expansion.

“For the teams who weren’t quite eligible this year, the initiative has really encouraged them to think about striving for higher award levels to allow them to take part in the future. We are looking forward to seeing how the current projects progress, and also excited to see which departments have been inspired to take part next year!”

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