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Who is making a Green Impact?

Franceska Fisher
February 9, 2023

Our UNESCO-award winning Green Impact programme runs in universities, students' unions, healthcare, research institutes, and cultural heritage sites. No matter where it runs, Green Impact aims to engage staff with sustainability, develop widespread understanding of sustainability, and support positive action within teams and departments.

Green Impact Over the Years

In 2022, the Green Impact model was used by 428 organisations including NHS Trusts, universities, GP surgeries, heritage sites, local councils, and research institutes in the UK, Europe and Australasia. More than 1,100 teams formed across these organisations, reaching nearly 100,000 people, and these teams completed more than 28,000 positive sustainability actions and projects. 4,382 members of staff were actively involved in a Green Impact team and 880 students were trained as volunteers, supporting both staff and students to learn about, and lead on, sustainability within their organisations.

Here we will share some of the teams, organisations, and departments who have been making a Green Impact across the UK!

University Institutions

SOS-UK is a student-led charity and much of our work naturally happens in the education sector, which is incredibly diverse. Here are some of the university departments and institutions taking part in Green Impact.

Institute of Safe Autonomy (ISA) at University of York

The institute of Safe Autonomy(ISA) provides a world-leading ecosystem for research and innovation, education, public engagement and commercial realisation.

Joining the Green Impact Project has encouraged the ISA Team to consider sustainability with a more focused approach and to embed environmental considerations into our practices. It’s been invaluable to have a guide for so many ideas and best practices within the office. The project has also brought the team together, given colleagues project management experience, and proved to be the perfect starting point for a continued effort to improve sustainability in everything we do. We’re looking forward to starting the new project year with renewed energy and focus - especially now that we’re fully up and running as an occupied building!' – Chloe Harman, ISA Administrator

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) 

This is a network of world-leading research and innovation centres working with global manufacturers of all sizes. Their most recent projects with Green Impact focused on making their green spaces better for both people and wildlife, with a secondary focus on boosting biodiversity at the AMG sites, which are fortunate to have a lot of significant green space surrounding their buildings.

They also worked on a project with a focus on employee well-being but connections to important environmental issues.

The University of Worcester

The flood education curriculum that was already created for elementary school students was the focus of the University of Worcester's initial study on the program's global impact. To make the curriculum even more appropriate for the pupils, it was decided to look at how the GCSE and a-level specifications could be changed. Presenting this flood education curriculum to local institutions thereafter the programme was provided with interest from Cirencester College, Hanley Castle High School, and Cherry Orchard Primary School.              

It was highly appreciated by both staff and students at all three institutions. The practical components helped to maintain attention, and the offered material helped to emphasise the significance of flood preparedness, particularly in a world when the climate is changing so rapidly. To explore how they would react to a flood in their school, students were given flood action plans to fill out and submit for a competition.

Off-Campus: Business, Arts & Culture and Healthcare

Meaningful change needs to happen across all sectors if we are to reach local, national, and international sustainability goals, which is why Green Impact also supports many off-campus organisations in becoming more sustainable by engaging their employees and volunteers in practical steps toward sustainability, and offering opportunities for lifelong and workplace learning for sustainability.

 Students are still able to shape the off-campus Green Impact programme, by conducing audits of Green Impact teams to gather feedback on their work and verify their Green Impact award levels. They also get to see what different sectors are doing on sustainability, and get an insight into the organisations they may be graduating into.

English Heritage

We are currently working with English Heritage on a Green Impact pilot!   We are testing a bespoke toolkit with around 15 sites this year one of them including Stonehenge, with the intention of rolling it out across all sites next year. This year, we have a variety of sites participating, including castles, Roman ruins, mansions, and country houses. We are also very excited that Stonehenge, English Heritage's largest site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that receives over 1 million visitors each year, is participating.

One of the most significant challenges confronting the heritage sector is climate change, and English Heritage is committed to reducing their environmental impact and building resilience for the future. Our Green Impact toolkit will play an important role in assisting the organisation in achieving their Climate Action Plan.

 “We are really excited to be collaborating with English Heritage and have really relished in adapting our award winning programme to the heritage sector.” –Tori Morris

Students! You can become a sustainability auditor for the English Heritage Green Impact programme this March! You’ll learn how to conduct sustainability audits of English Heritage sites with IEMA-approved training, and put your training into practice. No experience needed! Training will be on 15th March 2023 via zoom with audits happening between 15th-23rd March (either in-person or online). Find out more and register using the form here.

Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (GARAS)

GARAS is working with 300 asylum seekers housed in local hotels and these individuals are desperate to get involved with something that engages their time and energy and contributes to the society they find themselves in, even though this may be for a relatively short time.

Their area of land here guests, staff, and kids go to relax and rejuvenate needs a complete overhaul. They want to turn it into a destination where everyone can go to appreciate wildlife.

The development of the garden area involves twenty people  to create a space that is welcoming to people, birds, insects, and other creatures. to provide a lovely space for rest, recovery, and relaxation surrounded by nature and to support a place for wildlife where guests may learn about garden animals in the UK. It will also be used to work within the organisation's resource capability while utilising a permaculture strategy.

This project also involves a location next to GARAS that the Nelson Trust just acquired and working with GARAS to join up a corridor that creates a path for both people and wildlife. The Nelson Trust and GARAS organised a significant community clean-up effort to get things started. GARAS is currently taking care of the area, keeping it clean and monitoring wildlife and activities. Ten people from GARAS, the Nelson Trust, and the neighbourhood participated in this


Green Impact has had an especially significant impact on healthcare by providing tailored programmes to assist healthcare systems in engaging in sustainable practises that meet the clinical and operational needs of organisations. With the climate crisis affecting physical and mental health,reducing the negative environmental impact of healthcare can tangibly improve health outcomes for future generations.

We collaborate with large NHS Trusts, Public Health Wales, the Royal College of GPs and the dental sector to create locally relevant and sector-specific toolkits that engage staff and clinicians. Since 2014, we have seen more than 35,000 positive sustainability and well-being actions completed in healthcare settings through Green Impact, and more than 1,000 teams from general practice alone! Teams have been focusing on a variety of sustainability areas, including green prescribing, reducing single use plastics, creating allotments and switching to sustainable suppliers. We have even developed healthcare modules for medical students.

The multiple benefits of Green Impact in healthcare include:

·      Increased environmental sustainability,

·      Cost savings

·      Improved staff morale, learning, and efficiency

·      Contributing towards the NHS Greener plan, and local Green Plans

·      Enabling teams to learn from others

·      CPD opportunities for staff

·      Responding to patient and public demand

What’s next for Green Impact?

We have just launched our brand new toolkit software, to make it easier for teams to find and take positive action for sustainability. Ifyou are interested in bringing Green Impact to you, please get in touch with Rachel.Soper@sos-uk.org