This is part of a scheme known as the Green Impact Scheme which many UK universities take part in. It aims at improving the sustainability of a team through small actions. This scheme was awarded with the United Nations International UNESCO- Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) 2016.
The day kicked off with coffee and croissants in the Library where I met other volunteers, Brian, a member of the Leeds Beckett Sustainability Team and Mark, the head of the team. We were shortly joined by Rachel from NUS- National Union of Students who, from 9:30 began training us in a way approved by IEMA, Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment. This involved using a checklist of criteria to assess hypothetical scenarios. The criteria are ways that the departments could be more sustainable, for example; displaying posters near electricity plugs, paper trays and sink taps encouraging users to be conscientious of waste. Another, more complicated example could be signing up for the “Give It A Go” scheme whereby staff would reduce greenhouse gases through organising car shares, using public transport or even substituting car for bicycle. We also ran through the process of the interview so how we would start an interview, by saying in one way or another that the audit would be no more than an hour. After, we were all allocated departments round Leeds Beckett campuses and I was assigned CARES (Campus & Residential Services) in Headingley. By 1:00 in the afternoon the training ended and we had a free lunch provided by the Sustainability Team for which I was very grateful - cheers Brian.
Around 2:30 I arrived at “The Cottage” and was greeted with warm smiles and a complimentary notepad of recycled paper produced by one of the staff who has stacks of them! Of course I began by reassuring that I would be no longer than an hour to Louise, a very friendly woman who then showed me evidence to support claims that were presented on a spreadsheet on my laptop from the memory stick provided by Rachel. The spreadsheet was a criteria form that advanced in levels and awards, generally becoming harder and harder as one went down the list. Many of the criteria on the list had already been achieved and had been substantiated with such evidence as emails showing synchronisation of stock orders to reduce journeys and thus reducing greenhouse gases or evidence in the form of photos supporting claims that there are stickers on computers that remind staff to turn their computers off at the end of the day. I was very impressed by there efforts and was pleasantly surprised by how much this department care for the environment. I learnt only the other day that this department had in fact one Power Week which is a competition providing an opportunity for teams to complete their toolkit and points are awarded for the first 5 actions completed and on the engagement of staff. CARES won a hamper for it. Well done CARES.
I really enjoyed the day as I knew it was going to be very rewarding and educational, which it was. The fact that it was only one day made it feel a slightly rushed and I did feel a bit ill-prepared when meeting the department in Headingley but if the training had been an entire day and the audit done on a different day then I think the prospect of signing up would have been far less appealing to people. This day really made me feel a lot more confident about entering professional environments and about greeting people in a helpful and friendly but formal manner. Also, it has given me an insight into sustainable procedures and how they can be applied to offices. I am very grateful to Brian for providing me with this opportunity and look forward to helping however I can in the future.