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

Members of the Sustainability Delivery Group are 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. 

Due to the rapid escalation with COVID-19, the Delivery Group did not meet in April. In May, members came together to process the impact of the current situation and to discuss the latest projects being worked upon across the University. 

Sustainability strategy and action plan

The group discussed the publication of the University’s new sustainability strategy and action plan. The sustainability strategy was due to be launched alongside a new University-wide Vision piece during the summer. The COVID-19 outbreak has, however, delayed the delivery of both the Vision and the sustainability strategy.

The group discussed the importance of learning from lockdown and how quickly policies and operations can change. At the same time, coronavirus will have financial implications across the HE sector so the group agreed that it needs to understand how financial changes will impact the University’s sustainability priorities. 

The group agreed that launching the strategy in the autumn term would be positive and further work is being carried out to plan for when the strategy can be launched. 

Carbon neutrality task and finish groups

The Sustainability Delivery Group heard updates from the work of the four task and finish groups that have been set up to investigate pathways for the University to become carbon neutral. The four groups, investigating energy, buildings, transport and food and packaging, have managed to continue to make progress by meeting virtually over the lockdown period. 

The energy group have been working hard to investigate options for the University to procure energy from renewable suppliers, whilst the buildings group are investigating the data available for the energy efficiency of buildings on campus. The transport group is also investigating the available data to understand the relative impacts of different forms of travel on the University’s emissions and is brainstorming potential new transport guidance for the University to adopt. The food and packaging group has put together a waste analysis to better understand recycling rates, the amount of waste produced and the hotspots that the group can focus on for future policy change. 

Education for Sustainable Development

The Education for Sustainable Development Working Group has been put together to follow up the recent announcement that the University of Sheffield will embed Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) into all courses in five years. The group is being co-chaired by Deputy Vice-President for Education Brendan Stone and Students’ Union Development Officer Harry Carling. This recognises the constructive partnership that ESD at Sheffield has been between students and staff. 

The Delivery Group heard about the progress that the ESD Working Group has made in its first meetings. This includes positive contributions from colleagues in the School of Education about how best to embed new learning in the curriculum.