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.

In June, the group met virtually and heard how each member was doing their best to ensure the University stayed on track with its sustainability action plan amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Sheffield University opts for 100% renewable electricity 

The group heard how the University has signed a new electricity contract which will see its purchased electricity supply become 100% renewable. The switch will result in the University reducing its Co2 emissions by 17,000 tonnes a year. Balancing environmental, economic and social factors, the University opted for Bryt Energy to supply its electricity. Bryt Energy is part of Statkraft, the largest renewable energy generator in Europe.

As well as ensuring that the University’s electricity usage will be 100% renewable in the near future, the group discussed how the University’s heating supply could be more sustainable and noted the challenges in providing heating without fossil fuels. On top of this, the University is moving forwards to make its fleet, commuting and business travel carbon neutral as well. 

Green Impact

The group also heard how Green Impact teams had undertaken 67 sustainability projects in 2019/20, which were reviewed by trained student volunteers. In total, 55 students volunteered to become Green Impact Project Assistants and auditors. They were thanked for all their hard work and dedication to supporting the University’s various sustainability projects and balancing the project with their ongoing studies.  

Sustainability action plan

The Group discussed how the University can ensure its sustainability action plan is dynamic and easily accessible. The plan for an interactive platform, which will be available online, was talked about, so that people can see exactly how the University is implementing its sustainability strategy across campus. The plan will be easy to navigate and understand. 

The University is also looking at how it can show potential students who are concerned about their carbon footprint just how important creating a more carbon neutral environment is to everyone at the University.

Sustainability in a pandemic

The opportunities for long-term changes provided by Covid-19 were discussed, including how to make working from home as sustainable as possible for University staff. Carbon savings might be made from commuting habits and frequency, however, it was noted that we should not offload the University’s carbon and heating costs to staff. Accessibility for staff with mobility issues should also be considered, as encouragement to walk and cycle more will not be applicable to all. The Sustainability Delivery Group was invited to feed in suggestions to the University groups making decisions about how the campus will operate post-Covid-19. 

The group also talked through how best to align the University’s sustainability principles with research ethics. There is a lot of potential to push forward in this area and make sure that the University’s research ethics always consider the sustainability implications of their work. 

The issue of how the University can become more carbon efficient with regards to its food practises were also discussed.