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Sustainability success at York

Posted on 28 August 2015

Environmental sustainability has gone from strength to strength at the University of York this year, from awards for creating bee-friendly habitats to unprecedented participation in campus’ Green Impact Programme and Student Switch Off.

The National Union of Student’s (NUS) Green Impact Programme at York is an environmental accreditation and award scheme bringing together staff and students for a greener campus. Recognising and rewarding people’s green habits in the workplace, this year saw a record-breaking 22 teams involved, all receiving recognition for their contributions.

Completing tasks in an online workbook with student-trained auditors to inspect their work, the Alcuin ‘EnvironmentAL’ team achieved a Gold award, improving on their Bronze win last year. York Conferences CS team and the Biology Teaching Labs team also achieved their second Gold award and will continue to develop their own innovative projects to strive for an Excellence award next year.

The NUS’s Student Switch Off (SSO) campaign is another competition for students in halls to see which college can be the most sustainable. Scored in three different areas – energy saving, recycling and engagement - colleges compete ferociously for prize money, which is awarded to the Junior Common Room Committee to spend on any student-related activity. Prize money is split with first place receiving £600, second £300 and third £100.

Wentworth College won this year’s SSO campaign, with Constantine and Derwent coming second and third respectively. Together all the colleges reduced their overall electricity usage by over 10 percent - enough to keep a 15W energy saving lightbulb on for 1075 years!

Small prizes were also won throughout the year in Facebook competitions, with 37 photo submissions winning Ben and Jerry’s vouchers to NUS Extra cards.

Other environmental successes for York this year include:

  • A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Green Flag ‘Bees Needs’ Award for work creating bee-friendly habitats across Heslington East and Heslington West. This encourages the number of pollinators to increase – essential for the well-being of the ecosystem.
  • All tea and coffee sold on campus is either Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certified, and many meat products are sourced locally from the Yorkshire or Humberside regions
  • YUSU led the ‘Big Green Clean’, enabling students to recycle 40 crates of unwanted kitchen-ware and donate unwanted clothes to the British Heart Foundation during Summer term

Lauren Finney, Green Impact Intern at the University of York in YUSU and a third year Chemistry undergraduate, said: “Sustainability can be seen almost everywhere at the University of York - from the green spaces on campus, to the ground breaking research carried out, to the ethical food choices we make.

“It’s really easy for both staff and students to get involved in improving sustainability. For staff, by joining or creating a Green Impact team you can see if your department can do better than others. For students so many opportunities to get involved exist, both in unpaid and paid roles, such as becoming a Green Impact Project Assistant, a Student Switch Off Ambassador or an auditor.”

For more information about opportunities, visit the Get Involved web page and Sustainable York.

Media enquiries

Saskia Angenent
Press Officer

Tel: 01904 323918