Be the Change and 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. 

References: 

https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/hub/quick-tips-to-save-energy/ 

https://www.wessexwater.co.uk/help-and-advice/your-water/save-water/in-the-home 

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: sustainability-estates@bristol.ac.uk 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: https://bristolwastecompany.co.uk/household/student-move-out/

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 https://www.trusselltrust.org/.

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 manager@bristolhub.org. 

 

Thanks to the following volunteer teams: 

Watershed 

  • Shivali Agrawal 
  • Poppy Pearce 
  • Christabel Hamer 

BoomSatsuma 

  • 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 

WECIL 

  • Hannah Munro 
  • Holly MacDonald 
  • Tayyab Jawed 

Unique Voice 

  • Alice Brion 
  • George Mayenga 

Voscur 

  • Ahra Nam 
  • Oliwia Kuden 
  • Miles Fenner 

St Peters Hospice 

  • Holly Ward 
  • Micol Greta Giannelli 
  • Rowan Browning 

Beyond the Bean 

  • Amy Cotterell 
  • Stephen Pearson 

Gardens & Grounds say ‘no’ to the mow

No Mo May at Royal Fort Gardens
More than 10 sites across campus, including Royal Fort Gardens (pictured) are having their mowing relaxed to let the wildflowers in the lawn bloom throughout the month.

No Mow May is well underway at Bristol University with our Gardens & Grounds team joining legions of gardeners across the country to let wildflowers in lawns bloom, providing a feast of nectar for our hungry bees, butterflies, and wildlife.

More than 10 sites across campus, including Royal Fort Gardens, Queens Building, Arts and Social Sciences , Cantock’s Close, various halls of residence and small pockets of green will have their mowing relaxed to let the wildflowers in the lawn bloom throughout the month.

Mowing less saves wildlife

By creating these mosaic habitats in our cities and urban gardens, we can supplement the sharp decline of species rich meadows, which have an estimated loss of 97% since the 1930s, in our countryside and rural areas. University of Bristol’s Urban Pollinator research, led by Jane Memmott and Kath Baldock, has shown urban spaces are a vital source of nectar offsetting this decline. Also, recent findings looking closely at nectar quality by Ecologist Nicholas Tew highlights the pivotal role that species diversity has in supporting pollinators and promoting biodiversity in urban areas across our country. Put simply, mowing less saves wildlife.

Several of these no mow areas on campus will also continue to be managed carefully by our Grounds team and left to continue blooming through June and knee high through July, as meadows form a vital habitat for our campus’s wildlife and city centre over the summer months.

Our Hedgehog Friendly Campus team are also working in partnership with Gardens & Grounds as No Mow May is an important part of their work encouraging greater biodiversity on campus.

Put away your lawnmower on May 1st

Plantlife’s #NoMowMay campaign started in 2018 and the message is simple. Put away your lawnmower on May 1st or leave some patches of grass unmown in your own garden to save wildlife.

Every Flower Counts

At the end of the month, PlantLife invites us all to join in the nationwide Every Flower Counts survey. By counting how many flowers there are in a random square metre of lawn, you’ll receive a Personal Nectar Score, which tells us how much nectar the flowers producing and how many bees they’ll feed. See the PlantLife website for how to take part, either at home on your own lawn or in one of our #NoMowMay locations on campus.

Plogging our way to Climate Emergency Day of Action

Each year the Student Living Officers and the Student Union organise a day of action to engage and galvanise students with the climate crisis. The day is scheduled into student calendars and people from around the University, and local community, get involved to host talks, share knowledge and run activities. 

This year, Climate Emergency Day of Action took place on Friday 29 April. The headline events included a talk from Tom Heap (creator and presenter of BBC Radio’s climate change podcast ’39 Ways to Save the Planet’), a People’s Assembly, as well as an art exhibition ‘Creative Perspectives on the Climate Emergency’ hosted by Cabot Institute. There was also an array of vegan food stalls, local sellers and panel discussions with student activists and politicians including Carla Denyer, co-leader of the Green Party. 

After closely following and supporting the work of student and ‘plogger’, Vivek Gurav, the Sustainability Department decided to join forces with the inspiring environmentalist and held a mass plog – a ‘litter-picking-while-jogging’ session, for those who are yet to catch on to the craze! 

The Department also teamed up with Simone Jacobs, Horticultural Supervisor and Hedgehog Friendly Campus Champion, to deliver a message to students about the importance of taking waste out of our environment.  

Around 15 volunteers joined on the day. Volunteers split into two groups, each following one of two routes through and around campus, starting at Senate House and finishing at the University’s Student Union. The volunteers collected, sorted, and recycled four large bags of litter into the correct bins and shared that they were shocked by the litter they found outside of the main campus and that a big contributor is cigarette butts, which do not easily breakdown when left on the ground and pose a hazard for small wildlife.  

The Sustainability Department would like to thank all of the volunteers that joined on the day, as well as to Vivek for helping to organise and promote the event. 

Sign up for the Sustainability newsletter  to learn about similar events happening in the future. 

Follow Vivek’s plogging journey on Instagram: @theplogman. 

Digital Together: Improving digital inclusion

A partnership between educational and digital organisations, Creative Tuition Collective, Digilocal, Blackmoore Ricotech and the University of Bristol, is providing computer access to local communities across the City.

The initiative, named Digital Together, was born out of the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought into focus the digital disparity faced by around 1 million children, young adults, elderly and their families across the UK. Without access to a device or connectivity at home, approximately 10,000 young students faced educational exclusion in Bristol whilst receiving lessons at home.

In 2021, the University donated a total of 17 surplus computers to community organisations to support those with reduced digital accessibility. Initially, five computers were donated to a café at Barton Hill Settlement to serve those in the Easton area. Tracey Massey, worker at the Settlement, said: “The computers are available in our new and improved Café – people have access on a daily basis, allowing them to connect with the digital world and helping them to navigate the internet in a safe and secure environment, using our free WIFI and facilities. We are aiming to provide IT assistance for service users on a regular basis.”

The second set were distributed to local organisation, Babbasa, which supports underrepresented young people with their career aspirations. Poku Osei, CEO of Babbasa, said “The computers played an invaluable role, enabling learning during a particularly difficult time. Both Babbasa staff and service users are really grateful for the gift and hope there will be other opportunities to collaborate again in the near future”.

The third set was allocated to the Atamai Tutor Centre to support free English, Maths and Science tuition and other work within the Easton community. Finally, computers were donated to the local Somali Centre to distribute the desktops to households that can’t afford to buy a computer.

Digital exclusion remains a feature of poverty and lower grade attainment. Dozens of young people are having to use their mobile phones to access schoolwork and resources for further learning, leading to them experiencing challenges in participating in their education and achieving good grades. To ensure there are no additional costs to the recipients of the computers, Digilocal installed essential software packages to each device. Thanks to the project, countless people are now empowered to learn, develop and achieve through digital activity. Digital Together hopes to continue to process and donate computers to local community organisations to help more people be digitally active, no matter their age, background, or postcode.

For more information please contact sustainability-estates@bristol.ac.uk.

Supporting a circular economy through charitable donations

The Circular Economy Team (within the Sustainability Department) is always looking for ways to reduce waste and one of the best ways to do that is to reuse unwanted items. That’s why, since 2020, the team collects unused items such as chairs, desks and tables to donate  to local organisations such as the Belgrave School and the Sofa Project.

The Belgrave School provides specialist, quality education for local children with Dyslexia. Our donations support their work by providing essential furniture like desks for the schools’ pupils. The Sofa Project is another local charity that collects unwanted items of furniture to sell at their two stores on West Street and Gloucester Road. All surplus profit from the company is then invested into local good causes. By donating our unwanted furniture, we are able not only to avoid sending it to landfill but also help support the Sofa Project in their amazing charitable work.

Donating surplus items to charity is a great way to reduce waste and minimise our carbon footprint, not to mention offering something back to the local community. If you have any furniture or other items that you no longer need, please consider donating them before you throw them away, they might be exactly what someone else needs! For more information on donating unwanted items please see:

https://www.sofaproject.org.uk/

https://www.bhf.org.uk/

 

How to have a sustainable Easter

Buy chocolate eggs with minimal packaging

Most of us indulge in a chocolate egg over the Easter holidays, but you ever think about the packaging they come in? According to Which? the plastic and cardboard packaging is around a quarter of the total weight of the most popular Easter eggs on sale. Look out for eggs that are sensibly packaged in smaller boxes.

Choose ethical chocolate eggs

Reduce the impact of your chocolate treats by choosing vegan and/or Fair Trade. Chocolate made with plant-based alternatives to milk have a much lower carbon footprint, and Fair Trade means that the workers who produced the cocoa were paid a premium which they can invest in their communities to fight the effects of climate change.

Here’s a run-down of the best ethical eggs on the market.

Recycle aluminum foil

Aluminum foil is lightweight and small so to make it easier to recycle, scrunch it into a ball. Keep adding to your ball to make it easier to sort and less likely to blow away before putting it into your recycling bin.

You can check whether a foil is recyclable by scrunching the wrapper in your hand – if it remains scrunched in a ball it is recyclable.

Make your own Easter decorations

There are lots of fun ways of making Easter decorations, from decorating Blown eggs with pens, paints and biodegradable glitter to paper egg decorations and salt dough bunnies.

Once you have a selection of decorations you could try adding these to an Easter tree, these are easy to make by collecting a selection of branches or twigs and displaying them in a vase or large jar. There are some really fun ideas to inspire you here:  26 DIY Easter Tree Ideas – How to Make an Easter Tree (countryliving.com)

Reduce food waste

A study conducted by Tesco and hubbub in 2021 projected that 8,490 tonnes of food would go to waste over Easter, including approximately 6.8 million hot cross buns, 9.5 million slices of leftover roast meat, 19 million leftover potatoes and 20 million leftover portions of vegetables.

Over shopping, cooking more food than is required and not making good use of leftover food means food waste at Easter is a huge issue. Bristol Waste has created this meal and shopping planner to encourages us to use up what we already have before we buy too much.

Go plant-based this Easter

Reduce the carbon impact of your Easter meals by choosing plant-based or lower carbon options. One portion of beef uses nearly 8kg of carbon to produce, compared to chicken which is around 1.5kg or nuts which are <1kg*.

Opt for Fairtrade Flowers

Flowers are another popular gift at this time of year. Look out for Fairtrade options, which are traceable back to the farm where they were grown. Fairtrade certified farms must ensure safety and working conditions for their employees and receive a Fairtrade Premium of 10% for every stem sold, which allows workers to invest in healthcare, education and other social benefits.

https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/buying-fairtrade/flowers/

 

*Source Climate change food calculator: What’s your diet’s carbon footprint?

The 3 best apps for reducing food waste

At least one-third of all edible food produced across the world is never eaten. That’s enough to feed two billion people – around a quarter of the world’s population. This food waste Food waste has a huge environmental impact and generates 8-10% of the of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change.  

Food Waste Action Week (7 – 13 March 2022) aims to highlight this issue and help to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goal of halving global food waste by 2030. To help you gear up for the week, we took a look at a few apps of the apps helping to reduce food waste.  

1. Too Good To Go  

This app offers-up end-of-day food from your local cafes, restaurants, shops and hotels at a bargain price. Simply sign up with your postcode to browse what’s currently up for grabs in your local area, check you can make the collection window and pay via the app. You won’t know exactly what’s in your haul until you pick it up – which we think just adds to the fun!  

Did you know you can often find the University’s Source Cafes on the app? Look out for food from  Senate House Food court (Monday to Friday), and from the Hiatt Baker café and Balloon Bar (Wednesday to Saturday). 

2. Olio  

Olio connects you, your neighbours and local businesses so surplus food can be shared rather than not wasted. You’ll see all types of groceries up for the taking, from food nearing its sell-by date at local shops to artisan bread from your local bakery to the excess of your neighbour’s weekly food shop. And the best part? You can pick these items up for free!  

3. SuperCook  

This app is perfect for figuring out what to do with the odd ingredients in your fridge. All you need to do is enter the ingredients you have in your kitchen and it’ll come up with recipes you can make. We think it’s a great way to save money, save food waste and try out new recipes!  

As part of FWAW, the Sustainability team is hosting a ‘Food-Swap’ at Senate House Café on Thursday 10 March, 11am to 4pm. Simply bring food you won’t consume by the ‘Use By’ date and exchange it for something you fancy. 

For more information on how to reduce your food waste, follow @uobsustainability on Instagram or head to the Wrap website.  

Our journey to Fair Trade

Fairtrade Fortnight brings together thousands of campaigners, shoppers, students, and businesses in a show of support for the farmers behind our food on the front line of the climate crisis. These farmers are often exploited and badly paid. 

Read on to hear from Rose Rooney, the University’s Circular Economy and EMS Sustainability Manager, as she shares her insights into the importance of embedding Fair Trade values into the University’s ethos, as well as her advice to students wanting to be more involved this Fairtrade Fortnight (21 February – 6 March 2022). 

Can you tell us a bit more about your role? 

I manage our circular economy and environmental management system (ISO 14001). I also lead within the team on sustainable procurement and sustainable food, and Fair Trade overlaps between these two areas.  

Why are Fair Trade values important to Bristol University? 

Bristol University has always had strong roots within sustainability and a large Sustainability team. We’ve been an early adopter of various sustainability policies and practices, with Fair Trade being one of those initiatives of interest. Fairtrade is a great framework for reducing negative impacts on the environment and on the community, both local and global. 

Over the years, we’ve developed our Fair Trade offering far beyond just basic commodities (such as teas and coffee) and into other areas. For example, our print serves team sources fairly traded products for promotional gifts and events, and we’re currently in the process of tending for Fair Trade workwear for university staff. This is just a broad overview and there is of course a lot more work to do! 

Bristol University has Fairtrade accreditation. What does this involve? 

We have a subscription to the National Union of Students (NUS) which administers Fairtrade accreditation on behalf of Fairtrade.org. We subscribe to the NUS online workbook, which features different criteria for their different levels of accreditation. Once we completed the required criteria, we were awarded bronze level Fairtrade accreditation, which we received in 2021. The next audit of our accreditation will take place in 2023. 

This accreditation was achieved due to the support of several stakeholder groups around the university. We have a Fairtrade steering group, led by Rob Logan (our Director of Procurement), which brings the university’s senior management into the decision-making process. We also work with the University’s Fairtrade Network, a student-led group, which has been key to the lobbying process, along with Bristol University’s Student Union. 

What Fair Trade initiatives has Bristol University run? 

Many of our engagements happen during Fairtrade Fortnight, where we offer students and staff the opportunity to learn more about Fair Trade and purchase Fair Trade tea, coffee, and chocolate. We also host pop-up events to provide information and encourage students to pledge support towards the Fair Trade mandate. We also promote Fair Trade products throughout the year, for example, encouraging students to switch to Fair Trade chocolate during Easter, and our catering team offers Fair Trade food and drinks. 

How can people get more involved with Fair Trade? 

We encourage staff and students to make more conscious purchasing decisions by looking out for the various labels that are used to certify fairly traded products. We also have lots of engagements planned for this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight such as a Fairtrade Film Screening at Senate House and a Fair Trade hamper giveaway.  

The University of Bristol works to promote ethical and sustainable supply chains across all its services, from its cafes to retail at the Student Union. If you’re interested in learning more or would be keen to offer your suggestions, please reach out to our Sustainability or Procurement teams. 

Do you have a favourite Fair Trade product? 

Oh absolutely, who doesn’t love Tony’s Chocolonely? They’re a fantastic brand and I love their messaging. 

And finally, where can anyone interested in Fair Trade learn more? 

You can learn more about Fair Trade at Bristol University via our website. The Fairtrade Foundation also has some great resources on its website. 

The latest on Bristol Big Give

The Bristol Big Give (BBG) campaign promotes re-using goods and giving within the community. At the end of term, students can donate unwanted items via donation points across campus, which are then collected and for the British Heart Foundation.  

The annual campaign is a collaboration between the University of Bristol, the University of Bristol Students’ Union, the University of the West of England (UWE), University of the West of England Students’ Union, and Bristol Waste Company and contributes to the University’s waste diversion strategy, achieving carbon reduction goals and Corporate Social Responsibility targets. 

Despite the impact of Covid-19, this year the campaign raised £73,332 to help fund life-saving research, through 42 tonnes of donations. The donations included unwanted clothes, books, duvets, electrical goods and much more, collected at 32 British Heart Foundation donation banks across the city. This takes the total raised by Bristol students £1.57 million since the campaign started back in 2013!  

Through the Bristol Big Give, this year the University also collected 12 tonnes of food donated by students and staff. This food goes to the Trussel Trust, an organisation working to provide emergency food and support to people in poverty.  

How you can participate  

Donation points are available across university halls and buildings. There is also a food donation box in the Senate House Source Cafe until the 20 December for you to drop off any unwanted non-perishable items before going away for Christmas break.  

Coming up  

The next Big Give campaign runs from April through September, supporting your spring cleaning and summer clear-outs. We’ll also be advertising volunteer opportunities with the Bristol Big Give and British Heart Foundation in the New Year, or drop us a line if you’re keen to be notified when opportunities come up.  

 

You can read the British Heart Foundations full Bristol Big Give report here.

 

Relaunching departmental Climate Action Plans

As the first university to declare a climate emergency, back in 2019, the University of Bristol is leading the way on sustainability for education institutions.

As part of our commitment to reaching net-zero carbon by 2030, we’re embedding departmental Climate Emergency Action Plans (CAPs). Following the launch in January 2020, which was stilted by the pandemic, we’re now relaunching the project.

A tailored approach to climate action

Martin Wiles, Head of Sustainability, explains why a tailored, school or departmental approach to climate action is necessary: “We have an eight-point plan to reduce our carbon, but this requires action at every level. Every school and department is different, there’s no one size fits all. As a Russell Group University, labs account for 40% of our energy and waste consumption. The actions needed to reduce carbon in labs are different to what’s needed by, say, the Arts schools.”

Departmental climate action isn’t new to the University of Bristol. Back in 2010, we helped develop and pilot the United Nations award-winning programme ‘Green Impact’, now managed by Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-International). The Climate Action Plans formalize this as part of the strategic planning process, mandating the plans be co-produced across academic, professional services and students, ultimately signed off by senior management.

Turning big ambitions into practical actions

To support academics, students and professional services staff to build their plans, the University of Bristol has formed a partnership with environmental consultancy NETpositive Futures and together they shaped its online Climate Action Planning Tool. Sheri-Leigh Miles, NETpositive Futures co-founder, said: “The people we need to take action aren’t experts in sustainability. We crafted the tool to turn the University’s big ambitions into practical actions for those we need to deliver them.”

The action planning tool enables teams to explore four themes; buildings, consumption, travel and advocacy. A simple set of questions narrows down the challenges users are presented with so they explore only what is relevant to them and has real impact. They then select statements to further tailor to their context, before being presented with suggested actions.

The University recently appointed a Climate Action Plan Officer, Rachel Moonan, to accelerate work with the schools and departments on their CAPs and support continuous improvement. Rachel Moonan, studying an MSc in Management, CSR and Sustainability, said: “By engaging teams pro-actively with climate action, supporting them to create a tailored plan and sharing learning between departments, we can reduce our carbon impact at grass roots”.

Martin Wiles also added: “The data generated by teams using the tool is pivotal. We can see how CAPs are progressing; how many plans are live, what are the stumbling blocks, how effective are the interventions? Then we can provide efficient support and celebrate successes.”

So far, of the 70 plus schools and departments due to create a Climate Action Plan, 34 are written.

For more information on the Climate Action Plans visit School and Division Climate Action Plans | Green university | University of Bristol.