Green Labs: Recognising excellence in sustainable science

Over the summer, the Green Labs Team were pleased to announce that the Churchill Building on Langford Campus has achieved Gold LEAF certification. The Churchill Building is made up of smaller research laboratories as well as the veterinary teaching labs, therefore the whole Veterinary School is now Gold LEAF accredited. LEAF CERTIFICATE

Whilst the audit was requested for a Silver award, it was clear that the technical team under Sharon Holt had gone above and beyond Silver criteria, resulting in the awarding of a Gold LEAF award, the highest of the tiers of LEAF certification. This certification will last for three years and is a huge step towards achieving the University-wide 100% Silver LEAF certification.  

 When asked about the Vet School’s achievement, Sharon Holt said “Holder of Bronze, aiming for Silver then achieving Gold is amazing! This was not just a team effort but a whole School effort as everyone must buy into our goal, which is to continue to work toward our Climate Action Plans to reduce its carbon emissions in response to the climate and ecological emergency”.
Some of the initiatives that helped them reach Gold certification include: 

  • A complete freezer cataloguing and clean-out operation to clear old, unusable samples and consolidate freezers. This is allowing them to eliminate several large, energy-hogging freezers. 
  • Careful monitoring of their DI water system – they have just one shared machine for decanting to reduce redundancy and waste. They also collect any wastewater and use it to rinse glassware, reducing water usage. 
  • Providing students and staff with reusable lab kits for home practise. This avoids a lot of plastic waste from single-use consumables, as many of the practicals from the teaching lab must be sterile. 

Much of the credit goes to Sharon Holt and her diligent tech team for implementing these changes, with the support from Stuart Pope, Operations Manager, who is the coordinator for the School’s Climate Action Plan. Their work is an inspiration and model for other labs to follow.

Please contact our Green Labs team at  to conduct an audit for your lab so we can work towards 100% Silver LEAF certification for the University by early 2024. 


Be the Change: Challenge yourself to reduce your waste 

The arrival on campus of Another Wave is Possible, the 90kg litter sculpture by eco-artist Wren Miller is a bold reminder of the harmful effect waste has on our environment. We can all take action and create change by making conscious, sustainable choices, however small they may seem – that’s why this September we’re encouraging you to Be the Change and challenge yourself to reduce the plastic you use to help wave goodbye to waste! 

We spoke to a few of our colleagues who are already challenging themselves to reduce their waste, read on to find out more about their experiences.  

Helen Fullagar, Projects Officer (Inclusion) HRHelen

“We all know that our impact on the environment is causing incredible damage to the world and its balance, and I’ve never felt like humans should treat Earth as something they can use, rather, it is something we should work with and protect. 

I try to choose loose fruit and vegetables where possible. I also grow a lot of my own fruit and veg in my allotment and garden. I’ve switched to a washable make-up remover cloth, instead of wipes, and reduced how much make-up I wear. I use a safety razor, instead of disposable plastic ones. I try to buy products in paper, card or glass rather than plastic. I also use shampoo and conditioner bars, bar soap and a solid deodorant. I’ve had one roll of cling film for about five years… and that came from someone else! I just use containers, or plates on top of things when microwaving, instead.  

By making these changes I feel I’m living more to a lifestyle that matches my values. There’s also a bit more community feel; having an allotment, getting involved in litter picks in the area, and going to smaller, local stores (like my local zero-waste store) regularly.”  


Paddy holding reuseable drinking vessels.Paddy Uglow, Digital Learning Materials Assistant Developer, Digital Education Office 

“I want to reduce my waste to make the world a liveable place for a little longer than it would be otherwise. Also I think I’ve always felt a wrongness with unnecessary waste of all kinds – whether material, effort, energy, time…  

I buy most of my dry goods in my own refillable containers. I reuse bath water to flush the toilet and have reduced toilet roll use. I use a heated blanket rather than heating the room. I grow more and store it in a freezer. I take any unusable plastic bags to the supermarket recycling point. I try to choose products with less single-use plastic and rarely buy any foods that come in single-use tins, cans or jars. Just recently I’ve managed to do nearly zero-waste camping; camping seems to generate so much waste, which really jars with being “in nature”. I have a 1.5L cold “bath” each day and rarely have hot baths or showers. 

The biggest challenge for me is cutting back on ready meals and ingredients that come in single-use packaging, but batch-cooking with my partner is a fun alternative. And I like the staff at our nearest scoop shop, so trips there are enjoyable. 

My tip to others is to be aware of anything single-use you use and see if there’s an alternative. Be suspicious of people suggesting you need to buy some kind of “green” product to be eco-friendly – do you really need a special reusable plastic cup? Just take along a normal cup, or even STOP at a café rather than dashing around with a cup of coffee!” 


Gemma Windle, Systems Manager, Development and Alumni Relations Office Gemma

 “I think really hard about what I buy and whether there is a reasonable less wasteful alternative. The easy wins are refillable cleaning products and toiletries and reusing packaging (such as jars and resealable bags). The introduction of a ‘soft plastic’ recycling bin at my local supermarket also helps me reduce my impact. 

Food is the biggest challenge. There is a zero-waste shop near me, but it’s price matched to Tesco, not Aldi/Lidl, it has very limited choice and limited opening hours. As much as I want to go plastic free, the zero-waste shop isn’t a realistic solution for me, so I end up buying a lot of food in plastic packaging and recycling it. 

One thing I’ve noticed is I hardly ever have to take the bin out. And because my loo roll, cleaning products and toiletries all arrive by post it makes the weekly shop a lot easier to do on foot. 

I wish the companies were made to be more responsible for the waste they produce. It shouldn’t be legal to create something with no thought for where it goes when it’s no longer useful.  

It’s important to remember paper and cardboard has a carbon footprint too, so always opt for reusable where you can. It’s not just about plastic!” 


Sai PriyaDr. Sai Priya Munagala, Research Associate 

“Wherever possible, I have stopped buying things sold in single use plastic in favour of the loose produce – in the amounts that I need. For other purchases, I make sure to check if the plastic packaging is recyclable. I work in a laboratory set up and try to economise the consumables’ usage and actively encourage others to do so. 

Despite the urge to reduce waste, a few things are impossible to get without generating waste. Sometimes, it gets really heavy on the pocket to practice the more sustainable way as shops charge quite a lot to buy packaging-free products.  

It definitely involves extra effort and time, but I feel that maybe my bit would be helpful in making this planet a better place. People comment that ‘one individual’s changes are not going to affect anything’, to which I strongly disagree. If everyone argued against the comment, I’m sure that massive positive changes can be brought.” 


Want to know more about the sustainable choices you can make to produce better outcomes for the environment? Read more on the Be the Change webpage. 


Green Labs: Aiming for 100% LEAF Silver Certification

The University of Bristol is committed to reducing the environmental impact of its research and STEMed (Science, Technology,Green Labs accreditations picture Engineering, Maths) labs across campus through an initiative called Green Labs.  

The Green Labs scheme at Bristol encompasses a number of means to reduce the environmental impact of our research and STEMed labs. It is driven by the LEAF (Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework), which is a standardised framework for meeting a total of 45 criteria spread across what is termed ‘Bronze’, ‘Silver’ and ‘Gold’ certification. This encompasses optimising water and energy usage, reducing waste, and integrating the principles of green chemistry into daily operations, to name just a few of the criteria. 

As we move through the remainder of 2023 and into 2024, our sights are set on a new, ambitious objective: achieving 100% institutional Silver LEAF certification by January 2024.  

This goal is driven not only by our deep-seated ethos of environmental stewardship and sustainable science, but also by the prospect of becoming the world’s first university to earn Silver LEAF accreditation across the entirety of our institution.  

We have set ourselves a deadline of 100% institutional Silver by January 2024 and as this date draws closer, the number of labs already receiving the certification is really encouraging. The School of Anatomy, Bristol BioResource Laboratories and the Level 7 Labs within the BRI are now 100% Silver.  

Besides reducing our environmental footprint and utility costs, LEAF certification offers other real-world benefits. It boosts research efficiency, strengthens relationships across departments, and opens up potential avenues for additional research funding. For prospective students and staff, it is a powerful testament to our commitment to sustainable practices, which can be a significant draw.  

The Green Labs team can provide tailored guidance and perform audits — whether in-person or virtually — our expertise will be invaluable in streamlining the certification process for your lab. For assistance or to arrange an audit, email  

The LEAF Process (a ‘How To’ Guide) 

We understand that the new, online LEAF tool may seem confusing, but the system has been updated to be even easier for lab users. Follow our 5-step guide to submit your Silver for 2024 submission.  

  1. Register or sign into the LEAF UCL (University College London) tool linked here.  
  2. Fill out the Award Criteria section of the website, remember if you achieved bronze in 2021 or earlier you will need to resubmit for bronze as well as silver. Fill out how you met each criterion, and you can provide supporting documents if you wish, you can also save your answers and complete later. For an in-depth tutorial on how to use the tool click here.  
  3. Once all criteria have been filled out, or you have explained why some do not apply to your lab, we encourage you to attach calculations for energy and cost savings, for more details click here. There is also a section to discuss individual actions or ‘Open Initiatives.’ These extra pieces of information are vital and help us calculate how much taking part in LEAF your lab saves.  
  4. Click submit sustainability assessment and the Green Labs Team will be in touch to organise an in-person or online audit.  
  5. After a successful audit you will receive a certificate and/or badge to recognise your contribution to sustainable science.  

There’s more information available for UOB Labs on this Sharepoint page

Inspiring green careers through Bristol Future Talent Week

Diversity, equality and inclusion are core to sustainability, yet despite Bristol’s reputation for being the only UK city to be a European Green Capital, young people in Bristol face some of the highest levels of inequality and racial discrimination in the UK, particularly in education and employment.  

The Bristol Future Talent Partnership works with young people from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds aged 14 to 21 to remove barriers, raise aspirations and provide talent with opportunity by providing high quality work experience opportunities with our partner organisations. 

In July, the Botanic Gardens worked with the Partnership to host a group of 12 students, providing valuable insight into the range of sustainability-related roles across the University. From learning about the diversity of plants and taking cuttings at the Botanic Gardens, to learning about sustainable events at the SU, to touring our 100% bronze certified ‘Green Labs’, the week highlighted the range of roles in the ‘green industry’ to inspire the students’ future career development.  

The Sustainability Team hosted a half day with the students and explained the University’s Net Zero Carbon by 2030 target, alongside the plan to get there. The students heard from several members of the team and learned about carbon footprints, smart buildings and how the Team drives down the University’s transport emissions.  

“The benefits of work experience are vast but the type of work experience that young people can access usually depends on family connections. We hope that by offering work experience opportunities like this we can help make the industry more inclusive and diverse. The week was very enjoyable, the young people were a real pleasure to be with, and we hope our partnership with BFTP will be a long one.” Andrew Winfield, Bristol Botanic Gardens.   

For more information about the Bristol Future Talent Partnership, see their website 

Be the Change | Challenge yourself to save water and energy 

Be the Change is a University-wide campaign to empower staff and students to make more sustainable choices. It centres around six themes: food, fashion, travel, electronics, energy & water, and action. This May we’re looking at how we can challenge ourselves to save water and energy both across campus and at home. Read on to hear from the University’s Energy Analysis Sustainability Manager and Interim Head of Sustainability, Dr John Brenton, on how he’s making savings at home. 

“As you might expect, the topic of energy features quite strongly in the Brenton house. I remember my kids looking through my phone when they were young and saying “It’s always just full of gas meters!” and now I get those ‘memories’ prompts from my phone asking if I’d like a canvas print of a photo of a meter from somewhere around the University. 

Like most other households, we’ve been trying to cut down on what we use. There are four of us (my wife and I plus our two children, aged 20 and 15) sharing our 1970s house. These are some of the things we’ve been trying: 

  • We use the oven less. When the oven goes on, we try and make sure several things are in together. We’ve bought a multi-cooker/air-frier and they are very efficient (as are microwaves) – the downside is we eat more chips, but the upside is… we eat more chips! We try to keep lids on pans when we are simmering things, and boil water for vegetables in a kettle rather than on our induction hob. 
  • We keep thermostats on radiators in our bedrooms low. We tend to keep the living room and kitchen at about 18-19C, but if we feel cold we turn them up for an hour. 
  • We use the four-minute shower timers the Sustainability Team distributed earlier in the year.  
  • We put “hippos” in the cisterns of the toilets too to save water when flushing, and have two water butts to provide water for the garden in summer. Looking at our bills, we’ve managed to to get our water use down to 60m3 a year. 
  • We use our curtains to help control temperature. In the winter, we close curtains as soon as it gets dark to help trap in the heat. In summer, closing curtains can help keep a room cool during the day. 
  • We’ve turned down the flow temperature on our condensing boiler. 

Compared with last year, which was a much warmer winter, we’ve used about 7% less gas and 20% less electricity, totalling 6,150 kWh and 2,000 kWh respectively. An average Bristol house will use something like 10,000 kWh gas and 2,900 kWh electric, so I’m pretty pleased with our savings”.  

To find out your annual consumption check your bill (or energy monitor, if you have one). Could you challenge your household to save water and energy? Sign up to the challenge on the Be the Change website 

Our journey to net zero | Reviewing 900+ carbon saving actions

The University is committed to reaching carbon neutrality from its buildings by 2030, and departmental Climate Action Plans (CAPs) are integral to achieving this. Each CAP is designed by members of the School or Department, enabling them to pinpoint areas of highest impact. By empowering teams in this way, the Sustainability Team can provide expert support where it’s needed and monitor progress over time.     

In January, 26 Schools and Departments submitted plans for an initial review, detailing over 900 committed carbon-saving actions that are either in the pipeline, in progress or complete. Actions are selected under four themes: buildings, circular economy, transport and advocacy, with the online planning tool prompting relevant steps to reduce carbon emissions. The Sustainability Team’s managers for Transport, Energy, Circular Economy and Sustainable Science reviewed each CAP, and provided feedback to enable effective implementation of plans.  

Climate Action Plans will now be reviewed annually, and progress recorded and reported to the Sustainability Strategic Monitoring and Implementation Group. With the first round of reviews complete, the Team has a solid benchmark for progress across the University. 

 Anna Lewis, Sustainable Science Manager, led the review process and said: 

“It’s so important to review the Departmental CAPs so that we can provide specialised feedback and offer support for the planned actions over the coming years. Innovative activities and plans are highlighted, which allows for peer learning as well as a consistent approach across the University.”

A recent survey of CAP coordinators has enabled the Sustainability Team to identify new ways to support CAP working groups (or committees, as they’re sometimes referred to). One outcome is to facilitate peer-to-peer learning opportunities, and the Sustainability Team will soon host a session in which coordinators will be able to review other CAPs, share ideas for improvement, and collaborate on future projects. 

CAP working groups continue to benefit from bi-monthly CAP Clinics, hosted by the Sustainability Team. These clinics focus around the four themes within the planning tool, but are also a space for coordinators to share any questions or challenges with the wider network.  

Overall, 62% of Departments have submitted a Climate Action Plan, with 83% of all Departments successfully engaged in the process. CAPs will continue to be an important resource to help the University achieve its ambitious net zero targets, as well as to continuously demonstrate its commitment to sustainability and climate action for many years to come. 

For more information visit the Sustainability website or contact  

Be the Change | Choosing second-hand fashion, whatever the occasion!

The clothing and textiles industry accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than international aviation and shipping combined. Rethinking the amount of clothes we buy and refreshing our wardrobes with only second-hand pieces challenges fast-fashion culture, saves money, and encourages creativity. Read on to hear from two colleagues who are relishing the fashion challenge.   


Vicki Carliell, Teaching Associate, VET school

Vicky and her second-hand wedding dress

“I’ve been a charity shopper since my student years, when numerous student balls, formal dinners and work placements required fancy clothes I couldn’t afford. I once found a gorgeous blue silk cocktail dress (which costs more to dry clean than the dress itself!) – I’ve enjoyed many occasions in that dress over the years.  

I’m getting married this summer and we’re considering the environmental impact of all our choices. My wedding dress and all five bridesmaids’ dresses are all coming from charity shops. Initially I was nervous my bridesmaids would think I’m being cheap, but they’re excited and think it’s cool I’m doing it. We’re looking for bright, colourful, mismatched dresses – bold and vibrant! 

When it came to choosing dresses, they came to Bristol and we first visited the Tenovus Bridal Store on Glouster Road. They’d held back some dresses I’d pre-selected, closed the store and made it a really nice experience for us. We found my wedding dress and three of the bridesmaid dresses that day. Some of my bridesmaids are now considering donating their old wedding dresses to charity to give them another lease of life, which is a great thing to do.” 




Josie's old outfit of the day
Josie’s ‘old outfit of the day’

Josie Maskell, Student Administrator, School of Physics 

“I’ve always loved finding unique items of clothing at low prices in charity shops, but following sustainable influencers online, I’ve learnt more about the huge impact that fast fashion has on the planet. I’ve challenged myself to reduce the amount of clothing I buy, and to buy second hand as much as possible.  

It can be hard finding specific items you need or want but apps like Vinted and Ebay mean I can search for specific items second hand, and filter by colour and condition. It can be more work buying second-hand, but I find it especially rewarding when you find the perfect item of clothing after searching – it’s much more exciting than just picking something up from the high street.  

Another way I refresh my wardrobe is by going to clothes swaps. You take along a few good quality items to swap, and everyone’s items are put out on racks to browse. I love these because you never know what you are going to come home with, and it encourages you to have a clear out so that you aren’t holding onto excess clothing.  

Having access to so many great second-hand items online, I have been tempted to over consume and buy things I don’t need. I try to follow the 30-wear rule, where you only buy something if you can see yourself wearing it at least 30 times.  

It’s fun to be creative with the pieces I have, and I often share my outfits on social media using the “old outfit of the day” hashtag, which was created by sustainable influencers to encourage people to join the slow fashion movement. Since doing this, I have heard from a few of my friends that I’ve inspired them to buy more second-hand items which always makes my day.” 


Find out more and sign up to the challenge here. 

Be the Change: Clothes swap and repair, Wednesday 19 April, 4-6pm, Physics Building  

The Sustainability Team is partnering with The Emporium of Loveliness  and Gorgeous by Design to help you on your way to a more sustainable wardrobe. Simply bring along your gently used clothes to swap for something different or bring along an item in need of a minor repair and get it fixed for free! Staff and students can sign up for this free event on the Be the Change webpage.   


The Rebirth of The Hungry Caterpillar Food Coop

Popular student-run food cooperative, the Hungry Caterpillar, is finally enjoying its rebirth after spending lockdown in hibernation. We caught up with Jane Williamson, a volunteer and organiser with the co-op, to find out more about the relaunch and what to expect from the new and improved cooperative.

“The Hungry Caterpillar came from a desire to have more affordable, cheap and low-waste groceries on campus,” Jane explained. “Bulk shops can be colossally expensive and inaccessible to students and those on lower incomes – more expensive than shopping at a supermarket. Our aim is to bring together students to do something positive around sustainable yet fairly priced food.”

To achieve their goals, the cooperative buys from local wholesaler, Essential Trading Cooperative, and resells at the same price – a ‘positive uprising’ against the c

ulture of big supermarkets. Members bring along their own containers and buy produce by weight, minimising food waste and plastic packaging.

Run by student

society BUST (Bristol University Sustainability Team), the Hungry Caterpillar is open 1-3pm every Wednesday in the Multifaith Chaplaincy. Each week, customers can also enjoy a cheap and sustainable lunch before the stall, made with ingredients from the co-op and vegetables donated by a local grocer’s shop.

Janes explains that this is a second life for the Hungry Caterpillar, and the cooperative wants to offer even more than before.

“It’s conceptually a reincarnation – bringing the Hungry Caterpillar back from the ashes. But now we’re reimagining it; the food stall is central, but we are also running movie nights and clothes swaps”.

The itinerary of the co-operative over the next few weeks includes a seed planting session and a Hungry Caterpillar patch-ironing workshop. Jane tells us that they are also looking into setting up a supper club, and an affordable veg box scheme so that they can also offer fresh produce. It’s clear that joining the cooperative is about more than picking up groceries.

“It’s also a way to make new friends and take simple impactful action,” Jane added. “The Hungry Caterpillar is not just those who run the stall. The cooperative is open to suggestions of new products to stock and enjoys collaborating with other students and groups for events. It operates like a society, with volunteers signing up via a rota to run the stall every week. Everyone is working together to get sustainable, low-waste, and low-cost food onto campus- it feels great to be a part of it!”.

Both staff and students are welcome to join and use The Hungry Caterpillar cooperative, which is open from 1-3pm every Wednesday in the Multifaith Chaplaincy, Woodland Road. You cecome a member for just £3 a year through the BUST sign-up page on the SU website here.

Zero-Waste Pop-Up, 12:30-15:00, Thursday 27 April, Bristol SU Living Room, Senate House 

To mark World Food Waste Day, The Hungry Caterpillar is running a pop-up shop in the SU living room, to help you consume more considerately, reduce your reliance on single-use plastic and save some money! Make sure to bring your Tupperware along and stock up on essential household ingredients and snacks. You can purchase annual membership to the co-operative for just £3 on the day, or right now using this link.


Be the Change | Sarah Rogers: ‘Taking action in my local community’

Sarah Rogers

This month, our ‘Be the Change’ campaign theme is ‘action’. We’re encouraging staff and students to challenge themselves to make a positive contribution by volunteering, recycling, growing plants, composting and raising awareness. All action, however big or small, can change the future of the world we live in.  

We caught up with Sarah Rogers, Project Coordinator within the University’s Public Engagement team, to find out about her inspiring journey to setup a community garden in her local community.  

 “My friend Becca and I met at a playgroup, and we kept discussing how there very little free provision of activities in the local area to take our children to. We decided to attend a large local event and asked people what they wanted and where – so we knew a community garden with regular activities for children and old people would be popular. Then we supported each other to take it forwards,” Sarah explained.  

“We started Hillfields Community Garden right in the middle of the pandemic. The focus is improving local nature, connecting people to reduce isolation and supporting people in poverty with free healthy meals. We had some funding from a local organisation that gave us an unconditional grant, which covered raised beds, plants and tools. We set about flyering and put up posters, and attracted other likeminded people. For a long time all we had to organise ourselves was a WhatsApp group!” 

The area of Hillfields, Fishponds, was built around 1920 and was one of first council estates in the UK and the world designed as part of the ‘Homes for Heroes’ initiatives.  

“The whole ethos was around ‘dig for victory’, so every home was designed with a substantial garden so everyone had an allotment,” Sarah described. “Over the course of a century, I think people have forgotten how to grow – we’ve got Monty Don and RHS that replaced the ‘everyday’ style gardening. I reject this  –  I’m an everyday, indiscriminate gardener – all plants get same attention and I see what happens! The thing I like most about gardening is it starts afresh every year, you can learn and try again.”  

In 2021 we held 22 events and groups which were attended by 580 people, last year we expanded to three community events per year, four regular monthly groups, and 25 volunteers, 27 activities which were attended by 1,200 people! We are also now an Award Winning Garden and have been featured in local radio, by Bristol City Council and in a national magazine.  

Sarah enjoys bridging her work at the University with her work in the community, and believes they compliment each other well.  

“Last year I did the Female Leadership Initiative (FLi) with UoB Staff Development and it was one of the best things I’ve done in terms of supporting me within my leadership at work and outside work. The initiative has also benefited from working with the University in other ways, for example last year we linked up with Engaged Learning and three Business students [Emeli, Holly and Maria] who created a Business Plan . They recommended we become a charitable incorporated organisation, which we are now applying for. 

I’d encourage staff to use their volunteering day to work with grassroots projects like ours, not only “getting out there” but using their work-based skills to support local initiatives.”  

There are plenty of ways to find suitable volunteering opportunities. On Wednesday 8 February the SU is hosting a volunteering fair. You could also browse VOSCUR for opportunities. You should then have a conversation with your manager to agree a date.  

“Consider your volunteer day a trial to see if you like something and could continue to volunteer longer term. My top tip would be to look locally – what’s on your doorstep? Where you can invest time a few streets away? Passion but no skill is also ok, you’ll learn on the job.” 

For those looking to start something new, Sarah advises finding like-minded people to work with you and looking into the support available for startups through VOSCUR Voscur | Supporting Voluntary Action 

“Go and find your tribe – no one can do everything by themselves. It might mean putting an ad in a local shop or speaking to people at the school gate. It’s also important to set boundaries and agree the timescales you’ll work on something for as there is so much need. Look after yourself too, don’t burnout!”  

We wrapped up our conversation by discussing how rewarding working voluntarily can be both mentally and physically.  

“The biggest thing for me is the example I’m setting for my daughter, and how she see’s the work I’m doing,” Sarah ended.  

You can find out more about Sarah and her community work on her People Power Bristol video. This video  will be shown with other multimedia stories about social action at an event at Bristol City Hall on Saturday 25 March 2023. 

Community Garden
Hillfields Community Garden

Be the Change | Extend the life of your electricals

Be the Change is the University’s new campaign to empower staff and students to make more sustainable choices. Be the Change features six challenges relating to food, fashion, travel, electronics, energy & water, and action. Each month highlights a theme and offers events and activities to engage people in related challenges.  

This month, we are asking you to challenge yourself to extend the life of your electricals, save money and help the planet. Small changes like protecting your phone with a phone case or screen protector, repairing devices or buying second hand or refurbished items can make a big difference.

What are some of the things we can do? 

Protect your devices: According to the United Nations University’s Global e-waste monitor, around 50 million metric tonnes of electronic products are discarded every year. Looking after our devices and using them for longer will save us money, as well reduce the demand for newer models and amount of e-waste generated. 

Buy second hand: We’ve become accustomed to upgrading our phones, tablets and even our laptops every few years, generating toxic waste and using up valuable finite resources. If you really need a new device, consider buying second hand from websites such as eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree. 

Do your research: Many retailers are now offering refurbished items, sometimes of very recent models of electricals ranging from laptops and TVs to vacuum cleaners and hair dryers. 

Upcoming events

The University is hosting various events and activities relating to each Be the Change challenge and the University’s Sustainability Strategy. This month’s events include: 

  • ‘The Environmental Impact of Digital – and what you can do about it’, Tues 13 December, 2-3pm (Online)  
  • Author and podcaster, Gerry McGovern, will discuss the impact of digital and electrical waste on the planet. Register for free tickets on Eventbrite. 
  • ‘Fix My Crack’ phone repairs and Bristol Waste drop-in, Wed 14 December, 10.30-1pm, Senate House Loft.

To find out more and set yourself a challenge visit Be the Change University webpage. You can also join the Be the Change community group on Yammer. 

How the University is responding to rising energy prices

The impact of the rising energy costs will add multiple millions to our energy costs over the next two years. To reduce the impact of this, and to support the University’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions, we’ve secured new investment worth £2.8m to rollout a programme of additional energy efficiency measures in the next 12-24 months.

As widely reported, gas prices have risen sharply since the start of the year due to many geopolitical factors. Prices for gas this winter are three times higher than they were this time last year. Because electricity is made from gas, electricity prices are also high.

The University bought nearly all its gas and electricity for this winter ahead of time, though the current prices of the small amounts we still need to buy mean a substantial increase on the previous years’ costs. As time goes on, the prices we pay will continue to rise, with sharp increases due again in 2023. To put that into perspective, this could increase our energy bill by several million pounds, this year and next.

Our aim is to reduce gas consumption by at least 10% and electricity consumption by up to 10%. Actions include control changes, building system optimisation measures and additional metering – a full summary is included below. These actions will cut our carbon emissions by an estimated 8%, and support our longer-term investment program to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. Some of the planned actions will also make it easier and cheaper to connect to low carbon sources of heat and electricity later in the decade.

Delivering the Energy Crisis Response Plan requires collaboration across all areas of the University, notably our Building Services, Asset Maintenance, Facility Managers and Procurement teams, as well as academic departments for which measures may cause changes to usual processes.

To find out more about energy and carbon strategy, including our 8 point plan to reduce carbon, visit Energy, carbon and water | Sustainability | University of Bristol

To find out more about how you can help conserve energy both at home and across campus, visit our ‘Be the Change – Water and Energy’ webpage. Be The Change Water and Energy | Sustainability | University of Bristol

A full summary of the actions being undertaken: 

  • Optimising heating, ventilation rates and lighting across the estate to achieve energy savings with due regard for health & safety and the staff and student experience.
  • Replacing some boilers with modular boilers.
  • Replacing central hot water systems with point of use systems.
  • Trialing high-efficiency LED lighting at Old Park Hill.
  • Investigating a centralised cold storage facility, a solar site and different water purification technology.
  • Servicing laboratory systems to ensure efficiency, without, of course, compromising on safety.
  • Communicating to staff and students to realise energy savings in their immediate environment.

Be the Change and save water, energy and money

Be the Change is the University’s new campaign to empower staff and students to make more sustainable choices. Be the Change features six challenges relating to food, fashion, travel, electronics, energy & water, and action. Each month highlights a theme and offers events and activities to engage people in related challenges.  

This month, we are asking you to challenge yourself to cut your energy and water consumption, save money and help the planet. Small changes like switching gadgets off at the socket, enjoying 4-minute showers and turning off taps when brushing your teeth can make a big difference.

What are some of the things we can do? 

Take shorter showers. The average time spent in the shower is around 7 minutes. By reducing your time in the shower, you use less energy, helping you to reduce your impact on the environment and saving you money. Take 4-minute showers using a shower timer – get your hands on one at any of the events this month! Each minute less could save you 10 litres of water. 

Use a washing up bowl. By turning off the taps and using a bowl to wash your dishes, you can save up to 9 litres of water a minute! 

Switch off standby. Preserve energy and save up to £65 per year by avoiding standby mode and switching your gadgets off at the socket. 

Use only what you need. Kettles are one of the most used appliances in the kitchen. Avoid overfilling the kettle and save water, energy and around £13 a year on your electricity bill.  

Wash clothes on as low temperature as possible. Washing clothes at 30 degrees rather than higher temperatures will save around 40% of the energy used each year.

Upcoming events

The University is hosting various events and activities relating to each Be the Change challenge and the University’s Sustainability Strategy. This month’s events include: 

  • How Bad Are Bananas? – Wed 9 November, Wed 23 November – ALL DAY, Senate House
    Learn more about the carbon footprint of groceries and everyday items at this pop-up game. We’ll also be giving away vegan, Fairtrade chocolates to every player. No need to sign-up – come along and get involved! 
  • Watt’s Next? – The Journey to Net Zero Energy – Tues 15 November, 4-5pm, Wills Memorial Building: Old Council Chamber
    A talk covering the reduction of carbon across the University of Bristol with Chris Jones (Sustainability Manager – Energy) and Dr John Brenton (Sustainability Manager – Analysis). For more information and to register for free tickets, visit Eventbrite. 
  • Be the Change X Hedgehog Friendly Campus Litter PickWed 30 Nov, 1.30pm, starting at Senate House
    In collaboration with the University of Bristol Estates Team and Hedgehog Friendly Campus, the Sustainability team are hosting our first litter pick of the academic year. Attendees will be provided with litter picking gear and safety equipment. For more information and to register, visit Eventbrite. 
  • Every Drip Every Drop: Preserving Water for Generations to Come – Tues 29 November, 4-5pm, Online
    Bristol Water will discuss the strategy for reducing water wastage across the city and share tips on how you can save water (and money!) at home. For more information and to register visit Eventbrite. 

To find out more and set yourself a challenge visit Be the Change University webpage. You can also join the Be the Change community group on Yammer. 


Recognition at the Green Gown Awards 2022

Established in 2004, the Green Gown Awards recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges across the world. Bristol University was recognised in multiple categories at this year’s ceremony, including Campus Health, Food & Drink, Next Generation Learning & Skills, and Sustainability Student Champion.

Student Champion – Carlos Shanka Boissy Diaz – Winner

During his time at the University of Bristol, Carlos explored multiple aspects of sustainable development and forged strong working relationships with sustainability stakeholders across the University. He represented the University at COP26 and aided work towards embedding sustainability into courses by successfully calling for paid student ‘Sustainability Champion’ roles. He also presented the “Invest for Change” campaign to the University’s Chief-Executive team in April 2021, successfully challenging the eight-figure endowment fund policy to divest from unethical investments. The judges called Carlos “the very definition of a sustainability champion”. We look forward to seeing what he does next!

Campus Health, Food & Drink – Source – Ethical and sustainable food practices at the centre of campus life – Highly Commended

Source Cafés and Bars strive to offer well-balanced, healthy, and sustainable catering. Over the last 12 months, Source has been working to reduce its carbon footprint and environmental impact by eliminating single use plastic and incentivising re-use. For example, offering 30p off hot drink to those using a reusable cup. Source is also working to reduce food waste and encourage plant-based food choices by displaying carbon emissions on menus.

Source was recognised at the Green Gown awards for its holistic approach to sustainability. Professor Evelyn Welch Vice Chancellor and President said It’s fantastic to have the Source team’s hard work recognised. Bristol’s food and drink spaces are at the heart of our campus and we’re proud to be leading the way for sustainable campus catering.”

Next Generation Learning & Skills – Finalist

The SU’s Sustainability Champions initiative was also recognised at the Green Gown awards for working towards making sustainability a core competency of the University of Bristol education by mobilising the curriculum. With support, coordination and guidance, students have worked closely with academics in their schools to represent their peers, identify the changes needed in the curriculum and create opportunities for students to address global challenges through their learning and research.


Martin Wiles, Head of Sustainability, said “We’re really pleased to have been recognised at this year’s Green Gown Awards. Our achievements in these categories demonstrates the commitment to sustainability across all areas of campus.”

You can read more about the Green Gown Awards 2022 here.

Challenge yourself to change the future – Be the Change

Could you enjoy a four-minute shower? Could you refresh your wardrobe with only second-hand clothes? Could you move to a plant-based diet? These are some of the challenges the University is encouraging its staff and students to have a go at through its new campaign, ‘Be the Change’. 

The University of Bristol takes sustainability and its response to the climate and ecological crisis extremely seriously, and in 2019 we were the first UK university to declare a climate emergency. To evolve into a zero-carbon campus, we need all staff and students on board, which is why we’re supporting schools, departments and individuals to be more sustainable through our policies, Climate Action Plans and ‘Be the Change’. 

Individual choices can impact change 

Be the Change is based on evidence that the individual choices people make have a significant impact on our chances of limiting climate change to 1.5°C. Staff and students can have a go at a number of challenges relating to food, fashion, electricals, energy and water consumption, travel and action. 

The University will focus on a single challenge each month and promote activities and events that educate and engage people with that theme. Whether someone chooses to have a go at all six challenges for a month or take on one for a year, the key is to try. By making more sustainable choices, both on and off campus, we can make a positive difference to the future of our planet. 

What’s the main aim of the campaign? 

The aim of the campaign is to empower staff and students with tangible things that they can each do to make a difference. We hear from people across campus that they feel strongly about the climate emergency but they feel powerless or don’t know where to start. The campaign is intended to help people better understand the impact of consumerist lifestyles and the opportunity they have to create a more sustainable future for the planet. 

Evidence for change 

Be the Change is based on evidence from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and independent research ‘The Future of Urban Consumption in a 1.5°C World‘. 

The ‘Future of Urban Consumption in a 1.5°C World’ report defines the necessary emissions reductions needed between now and 2030 and 2050. The analysis then explores key areas and sectors where leaders, businesses and citizens can take rapid action to deliver these emissions reductions. It remains true that governments and businesses must focus on decarbonising electricity and implementing policy to drive down emissions, but individuals and communities also hold the potential to make significant reductions. 

The latest report by the IPCC states that shifting consumption patterns, for example towards cleaner forms of transport or more plant-based foods, could cut global greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 40-70% by 2050. The campaign is inspired by high-profile behaviour change campaigns including grassroots project, The JUMP, and The UN Campaign for Individual Action, ‘Act Now’. It’s been developed with the University’s staff and students, with an awareness of significance to our wider community who may engage through seeing content online. 

Who’s behind the campaign? 

The campaign is led by the University’s Sustainability Department, sponsored by Philip Taylor, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and supported by the wider University and the Students’ Union. 

To find out more and set yourself a challenge visit Be the Change University webpage. You can also join the Be the Change community group on Yammer. 

Bristol Medical School receives two additional sustainable science awards

Congratulations to Bristol Medical School for gaining Silver LEAF certifications in two of their buildings within one week, further demonstrating their outstanding commitment to sustainable research.

Research laboratories can have a significant environmental impact, often consuming vast quantities of energy, water and plastic while producing enormous amounts of waste. To help tackle this issue, University College London founded the The Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) programme in 2018.

The framework sets out several sustainability criteria for labs to meet in order to qualify for a bronze, silver or gold LEAF certification and provides calculators to track carbon and financial savings. By meeting LEAF criteria, lab users can benefit from reduced utility bills, increased research efficiency and greater access to funding, all while minimising their environmental footprint.

Last summer, the University of Bristol became the first university in the world to gain Bronze LEAF certifications in all 990 lab spaces. Building upon this success, Bristol Medical School has now been awarded Silver certifications in 41 lab spaces across two of their buildings: the BRI Level 7 and Bioresource labs. The Silver certifications were issued within less than a week of each other and are the first to be awarded this year at the University.

The Silver award includes 11 different criteria and holds a particular focus on increasing equipment efficiency and reducing single-use plastics. The BRI Level 7 and Bioresource labs successfully met every criterion required for the award, including regular discussion of sustainability topics within meetings, participating in recycling schemes and conducting regular equipment maintenance.

The labs even went the extra mile to implement several other sustainable practices. For example, the BRI Level 7 staff created a pipette shop to repair and resell unused pipettes for a discounted price, generating £400 in savings so far. Both buildings also completed this year’s Freezer Challenge, an international competition promoting energy efficient practices in cold storage management.

These latest accreditations add to Bristol Medical School’s impressive track record regarding sustainability and place the School in a fantastic position to achieve its goal of gaining Silver certifications in every lab by the end of the year.

The School’s remarkable progress further contributes to our wider institutional goals of gaining Silver certifications in every STEM School by 2024 and becoming net-zero by 2030.

The Freezer Challenge: improving energy efficiency in labs

STEM buildings are responsible for 40% of the University’s energy consumption, and the numerous freezers in labs contribute to this figure. A single ultra-low temperature freezer (ULT) can use as much energy as an average household each day. Ways to reduce the energy consumption of freezers that were encouraged by the challenge include defrosting freezers, vacuuming freezer coils, creating a cold storage inventory, space sharing, using room temperature storage whenever possible and adjusting ULT temperatures from -80°C to -70°C.

From January to July of this year, the Bristol Bioresource Laboratories demonstrated a commitment to more sustainable research by competing in and then winning an award in the 2022 Freezer Challenge.  The challenge, run by My Green Lab and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories, aims to achieve greater energy efficiency, sample integrity and access and cost savings all while promoting best practices in cold storage management. This year’s challenge saved a total of 6.732 metric tons of carbon, with 1,200 labs from 27 countries taking part, the highest recorded number of participants yet!

The Bioresource Labs from Bristol Medical School won the award for the best ‘medium size lab’ within the Academic Sector Category and in doing so saved on average 283.4 kWh/day, an amazing saving for the lab and the University as a whole! Their dedicated efforts included defrosting 53 freezers, cleaning the filters of 39 freezers, retiring 4 ULT freezers and replacing them with energy-efficient models and fully auditing 51 freezers (49 of which were ULT models).

The Bristol Bioresource Labs will be awarded their certificate at the IS2L conference and will be featured in Lab Manager Magazine. When asked about whether they would participate in the 2023 challenge the said they would aim for the Winning Streak Award, given to labs that beat their energy savings from the year before.

We look forward to seeing if the Bristol Bioresource Labs achieve their goal, if you want to join the Bioresource labs in the 2023 Freezer Challenge register your interest here!


Cycling to work – why two wheels are better than four

This Thursday 4 August is Cycle to Work day. The message is simple – if you commute to work, have a go at cycling all or part of your journey.  

We understand that taking up cycling is challenge, which is why our Transport team supports staff and students through initiatives such as our free bike maintenance clinics, cycle to work scheme, free cycle security marking and provision of repair facilities, cycle parking and showers. To inspire more of us to make the shift to a greener commute, we spoke to three colleagues who forgo the car in favour of cycling. Here are their stories: 

Marton Balazs, School of Mathematics:  

“Cars are a massive burden to individuals and society. The expense and hassle of maintenance, the reduced activity of the owner, and the congestion, pollution, public space, noise… I don’t want to contribute to these problems. 

Getting and maintaining the bike, figuring out routes, cycling among cars, and the physical activity itself was easier than I first thought. Once you overcome the initial barrier then getting on your bike for transport becomes second nature. 

When it came to choosing my bike, I visited a few bike shops and told them a list of features like comfy bike with dropped handlebar, strong gears, offroad capabilities, mudguard, mirror and dynamo – I was sure such bike didn’t exist. Instead I was told it’s called a touring bike and they showed me a range with the exact specs I was looking for. After doing the maths I was soon in the University’s cycle to work scheme with a Dawes touring bike.  

The benefits of cycling are huge – physical activity and the health benefits being the main one. Time saving comes second: commute is not at all slower than driving but it automatically includes the time spent on exercise! Costs come third, the purchase and maintenance of our bikes is a small fraction of what we would spend each year on bus tickets or running a car. As for my young one, he once said “The school run on the bike is the best part of the day!”. 

Josie Maskell, School of Physics: 

“I was finding it increasingly stressful and time-consuming driving into work, plus there is limited parking on campus, so it could be a challenge to get a space.  

A few months ago, I switched to catching the bus or cycling to work. Cycling takes 45-50 minutes, with hills at either end, so I can’t quite manage cycling every day, but I found a lovely route that’s mostly off-road along the river which I really enjoy. Tackling the hills is still hard, and in the beginning, I would walk most of the way but can now cycle the hills with a short rest halfway up, which feels like a major achievement!  

I regularly use the University’s cycle clinics to get my bike checked over, and the Ucard bike sheds help me feel more comfortable leaving my bike throughout the day.” 

Kate Lippiatt, Financial Services: 

“I ditched my car commute from Nailsea at the start of 2019 and bought an e-bike. I can’t recommend it enough, it’s by far the better option for me. The biggest challenge was just having the courage to give it a go – then I was converted from the first commute! I was a bit nervous about riding in traffic initially, but it only took a couple of rides to feel more confident and I felt a sense of achievement from getting to and from work by bike. 

I think it’s important those of us who are able to use active travel do so as often as possible, to help reduce air pollution and carbon emissions and the damaging effects these have on people’s health and the planet. The more people walk, cycle and use public transport, the less time those who need to use their cars will be stuck in traffic. 

When it came to choosing my bike, I knew that I wanted an e-bike, as I wasn’t used to cycling more than a few miles and didn’t want to arrive hot and sweaty from cycling up the hill at the end of my journey. I also thought that I wouldn’t want to ride in wet weather, but I bought decent waterproofs and it’s fine. In some ways I prefer riding in the rain as it’s usually when the traffic is worst. Getting a rack and panniers was a good choice for me, as I found carrying everything in a rucksack too heavy. 

My top tip to anyone thinking of cycling to work would be to use a website such as Better by Bike to plan your route in advance, as there are often ways you can go by bike that avoid the busiest roads and complicated junctions. I would encourage everyone who can to give it a go – you may well find that you love it and that it’s all round a better commute than driving.” 

Thinking of giving cycling a go?  

How can you cycle safely and easily with children?

By Ross Hansen, The Bike Storage Company 

Cycling is a fantastic way for you and your family to explore the great outdoors together, but it’s also a good way to cut down on car use for commuting and running errands. 

There is no age limit for kids cycling on the road, so it comes down to you as a parent or guardian to make sensible decisions based on your children’s cycling skills, age and awareness of possible hazards. 

If you have younger children who are unable to cycle themselves yet, you may want to consider alternative ways you can still involve them. For example, you could install a child seat either on the front of your bike or behind you. For added safety and peace of mind, be sure to buy one with a pre-attached harness, to keep your little passenger secure.  

If your children are a little older and are ready to get out on their own two wheels, here are six takeaway tips to help you enjoy stress-free days out with the little ones. 

Teach them basic cycling skills 

The basic requirement for a child is to be able to ride in a stable and controlled manner. They should be able to confidently ride forthrightly, turn a corner and brake in a controlled way. You can teach them in a traffic-free environment such as a park first to ensure they can be safe on the road. This could be a fun and exciting moment for you and the children. 

You can also check if their schools have bikeability training. Bikeability training is usually at the end of primary school or the beginning of secondary school, and it’s a great way for children to learn essential cycling skills and roadcraft. 

Teach them about bike safety and storage 

Always check your children’s bikes are safe to ride before setting off. Are the tyres inflated and do the brakes work? If you’re unsure of anything, reach out to your local bike dealer to assist you.  

As the kids learn how to ride a bike, it’s also a good opportunity to teach them about being responsible for their belongings. Consider options for bike storage at home, and be sure to impart your knowledge to help the children take better care for their valuables.  

Make sure the bike is properly fitted 

Children grow fast and a poorly fitted bike will make riding more difficult and affect handling. Make sure to adjust the seat so that your kid’s knee is bent slightly when the leg is placed on the pedal, and so they can put one foot on the ground with ease once they come to a halt. Once the seat is adjusted properly, check if your child can comfortably reach the handlebars and easily control the brakes and gears. 

Choose the route 

Try to avoid busy roads with complicated junctions. You can use free cycling routes and paths, but make sure your children know that they might encounter pedestrians. To build more confidence, you might also start off by cycling at quieter times of the day so there is less traffic and footfall sharing the paths. 

Position yourselves correctly on the road 

You should ride about a bike length behind your child, who should be positioned on the left side of the road, about 50cm from the gutter. 

It’s also perfectly okay to ride side by side, as this can be more reassuring to your child. If you are two adults with one child, the child can ride between you, following the adult ahead. If you’re the only adult with more than one child, you can have the more experienced one lead the way and have the rest follow as you pay close attention to the less experienced one. 

Communicate during the ride 

Talk throughout the ride, pull your children to the side of the road, and explain what you are doing and why. Since you follow them, you’ll be responsible for checking over their shoulder and signalling them, but encourage them to look and signal too once they have the handling skills to signal and look back. 

To sum up 

Cycling with your children is a great way to bond with your family, increase your children’s confidence levels and reduce your carbon footprint.  

The University of Bristol offers staff a Cycle to Work scheme with an allowance of up to £2,500. While you can’t use this towards the cost of a bike for your child, you can buy a bike that you intend to use at least 50% of the time for travelling to work, including nursery or school drop- offs.  

How to reduce your end of term waste

Are you moving out this year and worrying about how you’re going to fit everything into the car home? Here at Bristol there are loads of options to get rid of your unwanted stuff without harming the planet. Read our  guide to help tackle your end of year clutter.

Got an armchair or any other furniture that you bought but can’t take home? Avoid unwanted removal fees from your landlord and donate it to the British Heart Foundation! You can do this directly or by getting in touch with the UoB Sustainability department at: who will help arrange a collection. If you can’t donate your furniture then Bristol Waste Company also offer collections to recycle large items like furniture, find more info on their website:

If you’ve got any smaller items such as books, clothes, or small appliances that you no longer need then why not drop them off at one of our Big Give Donation Points across campus? Donation points include: Senate House, the Richmond Building, and Biomedical Sciences, as well as most University owned halls. Last year the University donated 42 tonnes of reusable goods generating over £73,000 for the British Heart foundation! Help us beat this total this year and get rid of some of that unwanted clutter in the process.

Last but not least if you’ve got any unwanted sealed food such as tinned or dried items when you move out why not donate them to a local food bank? This will help to not only minimize waste and tackle the climate crisis but also help local families in need. There are donation points across campus as well as in most major supermarkets, for more information on how to get involved visit

If you’re a member of staff and are responsible for clearing an area on campus, please refer to our end of term clear-out guide.

How students are helping local organisations go green

Climate Action Bristol (CAB) is an innovative project placing University of Bristol student volunteers with local organisations to develop and implement Climate Action Plans.  

The volunteers help assess the sustainability of an organisation with the aid of the University’s bespoke on-line tool, supporting organisations to explore their impacts and therefore set out a wide range of actions, from energy use through to advocacy, to take climate action. The project, led by Bristol Hub and the University Sustainability Department, began in October 2021. The initial phase focused on developing action plans, before moving on to delivery.  

So far, students have partnered with a range of Bristol-based organisations including Boomsatsuma, Unique Voice, St Peters Hospice, Voscur, Acta Theatre, South Gloucestershire and Stroud College, Beyond the Bean, Watershed and Wecil.  

The first cohort of Climate Action Bristol volunteers are now coming to the end of their projects and recently reflected on their learnings and achievements through a showcase event, organised by BristolHub.  

Izzey Bowker is a student volunteer working closely with creative education center, Boomsatsuma. Izzey and teammates Madleen Grohganz and Daniel Walsh found conducting a travel survey to be the best starting point.  “We wanted to find out what improvements could be made to make it more sustainable to get between their numerous locations,” Izzey explained. “We uncovered students are unable to access student discounts on bus tickets and are put off cycling by a lack of facilities, which are things that Boomsatsuma can now address.” 

When trying to reduce an organisation’s emissions, the energy efficiency of the building is often paramount. Shivali Agrawal, along with teammates Poppy Pearce and Christabel Hamer, worked with local independent cinema and social enterprise, Watershed, to explore the potential costs of the changes required to make the building more energy efficient.  

“We looked at things like the windows and insultation, and assessed the impact and costs, to include the infnormation in an application for a Green Business Grant through West of England Combined Authority” Shivali shared. 

Some students discovered that developing a greener pathway is often not so straightforward due to financial or property constrictions.  “Unique Voice has the challenge of being situated in a rented office, with little control over things like lighting and heating,” Alice Brion, student volunteer, highlighted. “Our recommendations focused on creating learning opportunities for staff, publishing their climate action plans and building their local network to share best practice.” 

Working with independent living charity, Wecil, Hannah Munro discovered the importance of making sustainability inclusive.  “Our focus was on engagement. We brought employees on the journey, as well as looking at community engagement through workshops and publishing of the sustainability report. We also reviewed and expanded their ‘Green Team’ objectives, making its statement and goals inclusive for everyone.” 

Oliver Jones, Director at Acta Community Theatre, said the process of working with students enabled the Theatre to work more strategically.  “We weren’t sure at first what we wanted the students to focus on, other than improving what we do doing around the environment to support with funding applications. After the student’s audit, we developed a plan that includes short term and long-term actions around electricity, water, heating consumption and our website content. Dan, Syndy and Gillian each focused on distinct aspects of the plan, depending on their areas of interest, which worked really well.”  

Martin Wiles, Head of Sustainability at University of Bristol reflected on the showcase event, explaining that sustainability is not an easy path to follow.  “Learning to work around the obstacles you uncover is really valuable. Challenges will arise whether it’s a big, small or rich organisation. It’s not an easy path to follow, but it is essential to meet the City’s 2030 net zero carbon target.” 


If you are a student interested in working with a local organisation to help develop its Climate Action Plan register your interest for 2022/23 volunteering here.  

If you’re a local business looking for support with writing a Carbon/Climate Action Plan, please email Sorcha Young at 


Thanks to the following volunteer teams: 


  • Shivali Agrawal 
  • Poppy Pearce 
  • Christabel Hamer 


  • Izzie Bowker 
  • Madleen Grohganz 
  • Daniel Walsh 

South Gloucestershire and Stroud College 

  • Mitchell Norey 
  • Zara Shilakis 
  • Eliza Joynson 

Acta Theatre 

  • Dan Green 
  • Gillian Capen
  • Syndy Liew 


  • Hannah Munro 
  • Holly MacDonald 
  • Tayyab Jawed 

Unique Voice 

  • Alice Brion 
  • George Mayenga 


  • Ahra Nam 
  • Oliwia Kuden 
  • Miles Fenner 

St Peters Hospice 

  • Holly Ward 
  • Micol Greta Giannelli 
  • Rowan Browning 

Beyond the Bean 

  • Amy Cotterell 
  • Stephen Pearson