Here's our Green Impact Special Award winners 2016

Friday 10-06-2016 - 10:15

Each year, the national special awards celebrate the most innovative, the most committed and the most impactful initiatives and individuals across the hundreds of organisations running Green Impact. And once again, we’re overwhelmed by the wonderful things going on across campuses and communities.

Green Impact brings together staff and students to take action on sustainability; whether it’s raising money for charity, promoting healthy eating, setting up community engagement projects or switching to double sided photocopying we’ve now seen more than 250,000 actions undertaken through the programme. Our bronze silver and gold awards recognise these actions every year.

But the special awards are there because we know that as well as the actions found within Green Impact toolkits, people are innovating; people are problem solving; people are going above and beyond the ‘normal’ programme. And we want to recognise these people, celebrate their achievements, and use them to inspire future Green Impact actions.

Let’s have a look at this year’s winners:

Innovation for Engagement:
Winchester Bookworms – University of Winchester

The team at the university library wanted to engage more people in sustainability as well as to promote and share good practice across libraries taking part in Green Impact. They started to promote the #GreenUniLibrary hashtag on both Twitter and Pinterest. The team have reported positive messages from other libraries saying they have been inspired by seeing what other universities have posted.

The initial idea was to create a platform to share green ideas across the libraries academic community, and to generate a conversation on sustainability in libraries specifically – the team have definitely achieved that!

Our judges loved how they’d reached out beyond their campus walls and the light-hearted, but impactful, approach they’d taken.

Environmental Improvement
Green Stuff Development – North Bristol NHS Trust

Covering the staff development team at the trust, one of the team members noticed that catering outlet in the Learning and Research had an excessive use of polystyrene containers for hot food purchased. Many staff were purchasing food, and then sitting at tables just feet away – not actually needed take-away boxes. The team started small, discussing the problems with polystyrene and encouraging people to take a plate from the staff kitchen when buying food. Next step was to talk to the catering outlet staff, as well as the trust’s sustainability team.

One of the Green Stuff Development Green Impact team, Heather Tyler says “now within the last few weeks there has been a noticeable change in the amount of containers used, and they are only given to staff who are literally taking their hot food away, everybody else is now eating from cardboard plates – much more environmentally friendly!

Our judges thought this was a great example of simple grassroots activism: a team spotting a problem, and using people power to solve it.

Community Action
The Fielder Centre – University of Hertfordshire

The Fielder Centre provides meeting and conferencing facilities for the university as well as external business and organisations.  Unfortunately many charities, community groups and other non for profit organisations don’t have the budget needed to use the facilities.

The team discussed ways in which they could provide the most positive impact to the local community. They decided to offer their meeting space, without charge, to groups who have enquired in the past and then advertising locally to fill the remaining rooms. Fielder Centre staff were happy to give up their own time to set-up, service and reset the meetings rooms after the groups had finished for the evening.

The first attempt saw three groups taking up the offer, an AGM for a local youth organisation, a residents’ association and a school governors’ meeting. They’ll offer the service quarterly from now on.  Our judges were impressed by the spirit of the initiative, the fact that it lead to greater community cohesion, and the generosity of staff.  

Environmental Hero 
Mari Rowlands – Cardiff University

This and the student leadership award are often the two most difficult to judge. However, Mari had the winning edge due to the breadth of activities she’d initiated – her passion just shone through the shortlist.

As well as working on the coordination of the Green Impact toolkit, she’s been very proactive in thinking and implementing new ideas within the School including encouraging Professional Services staff to do yoga at their desks! The team decided to sponsor this year's appeal Llamau before Christmas and took Mary a prominent role in encouraging staff to provide goods and gifts to charity. She’s also organised a fundraising coffee morning for the Executive Committee of the National Eisteddfod of Monmouth and other events including the promotion of Fairtrade products.

The colleague who nominated her said that she’d “strengthened the spirit and the sense of team within the School” which was so powerful the judges felt she personified the concept of ‘environmental hero’.

Student Leadership
Hans Pfalzgraf – University of East Anglia  

As Project Assistant to the MED Champions lab team, Hans provided general support as well as coming up with the idea for their traffic light sticker system. This has been used in a number of other organisations to help drive energy saving from non-essential lab equipment.  The idea is simple – things that anyone can turn off are marked with a green sticker; things with an orange sticker means you should ask before turning it off; and things with a red sticker means the equipment shouldn’t be turned off at all.

Hans also began work with other student project assistants from other teams to create a ‘UEA Sustainable Labs Guide’. This required considerable research in his own time, which he has fit in alongside the demands of being a third-year student. His team nominated him as they wanted to recognise “his commitment to sustainability and increasing awareness of good lab practice at the University” and the judges thought he deserved to win the national award as llaboratories are often a challenging area to make headway in yet Hans has achieved this.

Congratulations to everyone - prizes are on their way and we’ll be uploading case studies with more information on these initiatives to the resource hubs soon.

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