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Innovating Green Impact for a changing world

Since March, the UK experienced a dramatic shift in working practices that took place almost overnight. Over the past few months, we�ve been encouraged to work from home if we can, travel less, and many of us are not seeing our colleagues face-to-face. 

It�s also been a time of change for how we deliver our SOS-UK programmes. For Green Impact, we engage hundreds of staff and students every year with our workshops and training. We wanted to ensure that everyone still had access to these opportunities and we�re proud at how quickly we were able to adapt to online delivery.

Many of the organisations that we work with were just coming up to their audits when lockdown started, one of the busiest times for Green Impact. Staff spend many months working on their sustainability projects and completing the actions within the online toolkit to achieve an award. We wanted to ensure that their hard work to embed sustainability into their working practices was recognised and rewarded, which is why all our audits were adapted to online delivery.

We�re delighted by the positive feedback that we received from staff on how we�ve adapted Green Impact. This article showcases how we�ve done this;

Thank you for keeping this going in this difficult time! It's been a really positive experience for our team and I'm really glad we get to finish it as planned!� CDBB Green Team, University of Cambridge

�And thank you for continuing with these awards this year despite the coronavirus circumstance. Our team and wider network is deeply grateful for this.� Wolfson College, University of Cambridge


Online support for Green Impact teams

We deliver workshops throughout the year for staff and students on a variety of sustainability topics, to raise awareness and inspire people to focus on these issues and support them with Green Impact. All our workshops are easily delivered online and enable staff and students to continue collaborating.

At the University of Essex, we have delivered two popular webinars in the last month; the problem with single-use plastics and how to communicate sustainability. Both webinars were attended by 15-20 staff from across the university and well received in particular with regards to their facilitation and interactivity. 

As well as webinars, we are continuing to support organisations with a whole host of remote support, including regular check ins, monthly newsletters, support calls with teams and creating bespoke resources. 
Delivering Green Impact audits online 

Green Impact audits are a key time for staff to show student auditors all of the work they have achieved over the year. It�s an opportunity for staff to highlight their good practice, and for students to provide feedback having attended our IEMA approved Environmental Auditing training. This year, students audited Green Impact teams via Zoom, Skype or conference calls. As part of the calls, students reviewed evidence provided by the teams and asked further questions. Moving the audits to an online format, removed barriers from students participating, as they no longer needed to travel to a training venue. Our adapted training was very well received by both staff and students: 

Being an auditor was a privilege for me, I really enjoyed the experience and believe that Green Impact is a great green initiative� Student auditor, University of Bristol 
The University of Worcester were our first institution to host their audits virtually. We trained eight students to become environmental auditors and they conducted 15 audits of staff teams projects. Katy Boom, Director of Sustainability at The University of Worcester said;

"Being the first to institution to attempt Green Impact audit training virtually was a bit of an unknown and therefore a worry, especially so early on into lockdown when we were all trying to find our feet.  However we were all pleasantly surprised.  By opening the sign up out via social media to any student was genius.  We had a very valuable external perspective and in a small way showcased externally some of the good work students and our staff teams had been up to during the year.  I was also really proud of one of our students who logged in and took part in the training whilst travelling in the back seat of a car!  That�s got to be a first and shows the flexibility of the virtual training and auditing.  It�s something we should definitely keep going forward."

We made our audits even more flexible, as we know that staff within hospitals have been redeployed to support the COVID-19 response effort and others were unable to take part in an audit at the current time. Instead, SOS-UK staff audited the teams based on the comments and evidence uploaded to the toolkit without carrying out further calls. Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust conducted their audits this way; it still enabled teams to be rewarded for their efforts and plan for a celebration later in the year. 
Taking the celebrations online

We didn�t want anyone to miss out on the opportunity to celebrate all of their achievements! Which is why we�ve been using Zoom, to host fun and interactive award ceremonies. 
The awards are a great way of bringing people together to focus on something positive, cheer on fellow colleagues, clap award winners and hear good practice from across the organisation. The University of Ulster celebrated their awards on the 15th May and the University of Chester on the 4th June. 

We are proud to continually adapt and innovate Green Impact to keep it relevant, and we work with each of our organisations to create an entirely bespoke toolkit and programme to suit organisational priorities. Sustainability is needed to create robust and resilient organisations and we look forward to continuing to work with universities, hospitals, local councils and community organisations throughout the year. 

All of this would not have been possible without the incredible, continued and adaptive support of � our Project Manager, who took everything we asked of her in her stride, to help us deliver a great conclusion to Green Impact 2019-2020. Our Green Champions have reflected on how useful Green Impact is as a tool for engaging with other on sustainability and we hope to build on its ability to build a network even more next year."  Katie Robinson, Sustainability Engagement Kick Starter, University College London