Each month, academic, professional services and student sustainability leaders come together to discuss the ongoing sustainability work across the University.

Each member of the Sustainability Delivery Group is responsible for organising, resourcing and delivering cross-cutting sustainability projects and embedding sustainable values throughout the institution. The breadth of departments represented allows the group to ensure a joined-up approach across the University.

The February meeting (13/02/20) saw the Delivery Group complete its response to a procurement survey which is being taken forward by our procurement consortium. This involved sustainability leads ensuring that the University adheres to high social and environmental standards in its procurement and purchasing decisions. As an anchor institution in Sheffield, the University has a significant impact throughout its supply chain and can play a major role in influencing others in the sector and within the city region to drive up standards. 

Further progress was reported in relation to the extra curricular student enterprise scheme discussed at the January meeting. A sustainability challenge has been set for the new enterprise scheme and the group will be supporting its delivery. University and Students Union sustainability staff will also be taking an active role in a new Urban Studies module as part of our Education for Sustainable Development work.  

The Delivery Group heard updates from four task and finish groups which have been set up to look at how the University can become carbon neutral. Dr Matt Watson provided an overview of the work of the Travel group. This included the data gathering that the group is undertaking to look at the relative impacts of student and staff commuting, the University fleet and business travel. These are the primary areas the group will be investigating and looking at a pathway for each sector to reach net zero. 

In the absence of the group’s academic chair, Energy Manager Phil Riley provided an overview of the Buildings group. The group is looking at ways of reducing energy demand across the University estate. This includes discussions around new building standards for energy efficiency and retrofitting priorities. 

Dr Rachael Rothman summarised the current work that the Energy group is undertaking to discuss the potential for switching its electricity supply when its current tender is up for renewal in September. The group is investigating different avenues for a fully renewable electricity provider and the potential challenges and opportunities this provides.  

Finally, in the absence of its academic chair, General Manager of Retail Operations Peter Anstess provided an update of the Food and Packaging group’s work. Work has begun on reducing the consumption of high impact food stuffs including beef and lamb across outlets.

The group discussed the ongoing work being undertaken to deliver a five year sustainability strategy and action plan. Work is currently being undertaken to align the strategy and action plan with the sustainability theme in the University’s new Vision. Sustainability is being embedded throughout this Vision and the sustainability strategy is being clarified in order to be published alongside the Vision in the spring. 

The group was then joined by Dan Waddington from the Students’ Union to review the recent refreshers fair and suggest ways in which it could be more sustainable. Dan had spoken to a number of businesses who attend the fair and are often identified as having stalls which produce a large amount of waste. The group proposed a number of ideas to reduce waste from freshers and refreshers events and it was agreed that the Students’ Union would discuss these with potential clients to reduce the impact from these annual events. 

Finally, the group heard an update on the end of year clear out scheme to reduce waste from students moving out of their houses. 2019 was the most successful year in terms of bags collected for the British Heart Foundation, with the items donated amounting to around £200,000!

There was a brief discussion about the University’s plans for COP 26 in Glasgow. The Grantham Centre often supports scholars to attend the meeting. More discussions about how the University can best interact with COP 26 will take place over coming weeks and months.