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 sustainability projects and embedding sustainable values throughout the institution. The breadth of departments represented allows the group to ensure a coherent approach across the University.

In December, the group met virtually to discuss how they were keeping on track with the University’s sustainability action plan amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

People and Planet League table classification

The group considered the People and Planet league table classification noting that whilst the University had improved in its standing, the team were keen to further improve their position. This will be done by increasing engagement with the student body and addressing some areas where further work is needed.

In addition,  sustainability  will be supported through the newly appointed Faculty Directors of One University, for whom sustainability falls under their remit. These positions will support engagement at faculty and departmental level and raise sustainability’s profile across the institution. 

Achieving the goals in the sustainability strategy

Education: The Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) working group has been working on gathering resources for staff to utilise in order to integrate ESD into curricula. This group has previously published a five step framework for integrating ESD into courses. 

The impact of the 5 departmental ESD interns will also be assessed and potential future internships discussed.

Energy: Priorities of the Energy section of the sustainability strategy were discussed. In line with the zero carbon energy strategy, self-generation including wind assets and on-site solar PV is being considered. The need to fully engage with embodied carbon figures was noted when assessing on-site options.

Procurement: Under the procurement section of the sustainability strategy, the Sustain supply code of conduct is currently being approved and work is progressing on adopting the social value framework across Procurement. In addition to this, operational guidance documents are being produced to support devolved procurement structure.

Transport: Under the title of Transport in the sustainable strategy, it was noted that bulk purchasing of public transport tickets is unlikely to happen, with operators converting flexible ticketing options.

The potential for behaviour change towards sustainable travel options and its need to increase sustainable travel was further discussed due to the relatively low levels of EV’s used for staff commuting. A sustainable travel fair idea in the Octagon Centre was explored. The staff travel survey is also coming up in 2022, which may be used to discuss sustainable travel further. 

Within the University, larger EVs continue to be adopted into the fleet in part due to the council’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) driving change within Sheffield. Emissions from the fleet were approximately halved from the year before in part due to reduced travel during the pandemic. 

Training: A training platform has been purchased and will be used for a sustainability training module. There has also been some interest from the Sports Officer about using the training platform. It was also noted the Carbon Literacy pilot was completed over the past summer, with feedback given.

Findings from the Carbon Literacy Report

An overview of the Carbon Literacy pilot project was given: 13 students completed a carbon literacy course modelled on a Manchester Metropolitan University course. The feedback from the students was overwhelmingly positive, with some interest shown by participants to pursue further training courses. From this, it was decided that further opportunities are needed, with the potential of the Carbon Literacy course to be integrated into the introduction to sustainability training module. Ways to make this course accessible to students was discussed.