Category: Sustainability Champions

Waste and recycling at King’s

All this week our lovely staff Sustainability Champions have been learning all about waste and recycling at King’s and how they can help us achieve our targets.

So what are our sustainability targets?

  • 43% reduction in our carbon footprint from our 2005-06 baseline
  • Reduce absolute water consumption by 2% each year
  • Achieve 70% recycling of non hazardous waste by 2020

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Last year King’s produces 3663 tonnes of waste. That’s 20x as heavy as a house!

Our goal by 2020 is to ensure that 70% of this waste is recycled. In order to make this happen we have implemented a number of changes. Previously King’s worked with over 40 different contractors in order to dispose of our waste. This year we have worked hard to reduce that down to around 10, the main one of which is Simply Waste. The benefit of working with Simply Waste as one of our primary contractors is not only that they operate a zero waste to landfill policy, but also that every time one of our bins are collected it is weighed so we know exactly how much general waste and recycling we are producing. That data is passed on to us monthly so, crucially, if we implement any new policies or initiative we can see the benefit (or lack of) in real time. In this way it is much easier for us to tell what changes we need to make in order to improve our recycling rates.

So where are we now? Currently we are recycling 39% of our waste, so we still have a way to go before we hit our 60% target!

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So how can you help us to improve our recycling rates?

  • We have this handy A-Z of waste guide which will tell you everything you need to know about disposing of all different kinds of items at King’s
  • Check out the bin in your areas. Are they correctly labelled with clear signage and is it possible to relabel them so 2/3 of the bins are recycling?
  • Make sure you and your colleagues are aware of Warp-it, our online sharing platform for office and lab items

 

If you have any questions about waste and recycling in your area then don’t hesitate to contact us at sustainability@kcl.ac.uk

 

Switch off this Christmas

As King’s gets quieter for the Christmas period, we would like to remind you to turn off all lights and non-essential equipment at the plug if you are the last one to leave the office for the Christmas period.

Please plan how you will shut down all unnecessary equipment in your area of work. Remember to switch off your computer, laptop and monitor, office lights and desk lamp. However, please be cautious with equipment such as fridges, freezers and research equipment. You can contact the Sustainability Champion in your area for more information or if you’re unsure about what action to take. Take a look at our switch off posters for laboratories here, and our offices here.

By switching off your electronics over the Christmas period, you will be helping the university to support its commitment to worldwide environmental responsibilities and the Paris Pledge for Action.

Take time to select a representative in your office to look after the following items:

TV screens and departmental controlled AV equipment in your area

Kitchen equipment

  • Switch off the hot water boilers, kettles, microwaves and water coolers.

Kitchen area fridge

  • Empty and switch off or turn the cooling temperature to low.

Printers and photocopiers

  • Switch off at the socket; a photocopier on standby overnight can use enough energy to make 30 cups of tea.

Electric heaters

  • Switch off at the socket.

Taps

  • Turn off tightly and report dripping taps to the Service Desk.

Windows and office doors

  • Ensure all are shut firmly.

Fume cupboards and safety cabinets

  • Please ensure the sash is closed for either equipment. Turn off all safety cabinets. For fume cupboards, clear out if possible, do not leave any equipment in operation, and set your fume cupboard to ‘low-flow’ if applicable.

As a global university, King’s College London is entirely committed to its worldwide environmental responsibilities. King’s is an initial signatory of the Paris Pledge for Action, which supports the agreement made at COP 21 (21stConference of the Parties, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) to limit global temperature rise by less than 2 degrees Celsius.

By switching off your electronics over the Christmas period, you will be helping the university to support these commitments and to achieve its goal to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 43 per cent by 2020 from a 2005/06 baseline.

Celebrating our Lab Sustainability Champion, Bernard Freeman

Our Sustainability Champions are an essential way for the University to reach its target of achieving a 43% carbon reduction by 2020. With laboratories using 3-10 times more energy per m2 than academic spaces making these areas as sustainable as possible is integral for achieving these targets.

This is why our inspiring Sustainability Champions like Bernard Freeman, the Lab Manager from the Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Centre are so important. Bernard was nominated for a Green Gown award due to all the amazing work he has done to make King’s labs more sustainable and last week travelled to Manchester for the award ceremony. While Bernard didn’t win on the night we would still like to congratulate Bernard for all the amazing work he has done at King’s.

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In this role Bernard has helped to embed sustainability across the department, introducing pioneering sample tracking software which has helped to increase energy and cost efficiency of cold storage. As well as this Bernard helped to reduce waste from over purchasing by introducing a centralised purchasing system for 200 different types of laboratory consumables.

Recognising the lack of training for both staff and students with respect to sustainable practice in laboratories, he engaged the University Sustainability Team to develop training materials. Energy efficiency and sustainable management of waste and resources now form a key component of inducting researchers into his laboratory, and staff leaving the laboratory have continued these practices in laboratories beyond King’s College London.

Well done Bernard, and thanks for all of your hard work!

If you would like to find out more about becoming a Sustainability Champion contact us at sustainability@kcl.ac.uk.

Professor Edward Byrne speaks at the King’s Sustainability Awards 2017

On the 3rd July, the annual King’s Sustainability Awards took place at Strand Campus.

Professor Ed  Byrne, President & Principal of King’s College London, opened the awards by highlighting how important sustainability at all levels is to King’s.

His full speech is now available on our Youtube Channel:


 

Transcript:

“Thank you Kat Thorne, Tytus, the team, and thank you to all of you who have been involved in this amazingly important work over the last year. You will all have seen Vision 2029, hopefully more than once by now, and […] empathise with the tagline of 2029, ‘To make the world a better place’. And of course, there is no more important way to do that than around the incredibly important agenda of sustainability […], arguably the most important single area the human race needs to do better in.

So, thank you to you all. To our students, to our Champions, and many of you are in the audience. To those supporting them, and to those for whom it is part of their job role: our cleaners, our security, our engineering staff. We are here to celebrate a year of achievement by everyone, and this is an area where individual actions tell the whole story. Individual actions by a large community such as ours add up to make a real difference.

So, what does sustainability mean to King’s, what does it mean to me? It’s so important that everyone in the university buys into this agenda. It’s at all levels – if one believes in levels at a university. It’s bottom-up, it’s top-down, it’s in departments, it’s in professional staff, it’s in academic staff, it’s in our student body; we all have to show commitment in this area. Sustainability is one of the core foundations of Vision 2029, and is integrated throughout this vision, it comes up time and time again. We have a duty, a responsibility, to support and deliver, in a number of domains, against the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. This applies to our research, our education, and to how we run our business, our university operations, I know many of you in this audience who are involved in this area.

As we know, this is important for people of all ages, but it is particularly important to our students. And I think it’s not just because they are young people and are likely to be around for longer and see what happens to the planet over the next 50 years. But it’s because young people have a passion to preserve the environment. We all do, but there’s no doubt it’s developed deeply and strongly in our youth, in this country and around the world. 89% of King’s students, in a recent survey, stated that sustainable development is something universities should actively incorporate in their missions and promote. Our students, in their activities and running societies, in acting as volunteers in so many different areas, in working with the local communities, make a difference around the sustainability agenda. This is incredibly important to our students’ careers and employability, the opportunity to have careers in sustainability, the opportunity to take part in events which are supported by our alumni who are sharing their experiences with our students. So I want to thank our students and our graduates who have worked with the team over the past year, and good fortune to them in the future. Let’s acknowledge them now [applause].

We have to get better at this all the time, there is no room for complacency. But I think we are working to constantly improve the way in which we make sure our students leave this university with the skills and knowledge necessary to be agents of change, and to be able to make a difference in promoting a sustainable world.

Let me turn to research a little more. There are umpteen examples of colleagues working around King’s to address global grand challenges under sustainability theme. I could mention dozens of examples, but I’m just going to mention two or three. The Global Consortium for Sustainable Outcomes (GCSO), where in one project we are carrying out a living lab project in our own buildings to reduce the carbon footprint and the use of hot water – something simple, but complex. And I must mention the PLuS Alliance, because it has been a sort of baby of mine to get this under way. Combining the strengths of three leading research universities on three continents, all with significant activities around the sustainability agenda – Arizona State University (ASU) in Phoenix, King’s in London, and University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia – and focusing many of our colleagues in those universities to work together around the global grand challenges in health, social justice, sustainability, technology and innovation. This is hugely important. We’ve seen great momentum since the launch of PluS last year, we’ve appointed over 100 PLuS fellows working across the three institutions, and the sustainability agenda is the dominant agenda to date – we have 11 research projects with seed funding.

Now, let me move on to another of the key domains which I alluded to briefly: our operations as an institution, because we have to live the dream, we have to do our bit and be an example to others. Sustainability Champions have a crucial role to play in reducing the negative impact of our operations. The Champions know their area best, they can identify positive actions and work with their colleagues to make a real difference in their area. And we have this in spades.

Much of the work we’re going to hear a little bit about is focused on reducing the environmental impact of our research in labs, while also improving the research environment. A laboratory consumes up to 5 times more energy than a typical academic space, therefore actions of Lab Sustainability Champions can have a big impact. We were highly commended at last year’s Green Gown Awards, a major award, for our Sustainability Lab programme. And it’s really great to have worked closely with a university I was a little connected with, UCL, and to have Champions working across King’s and UCL, auditing each other and sharing good practice across these institutions.

I am also delighted to announce that this year our colleagues across Estates & Facilities and the sports grounds have been externally audited, and last month they were accredited in a major programme: the ISO14001 programme, an internationally recognised standard for environmental management. Can you join me in saying well done to everybody who played a role in that achievement [applause].

This year, we’ve had some incredibly engaged colleagues right across the university, truly making a difference in their workplaces. We look forward to celebrating with them shortly, as we celebrate their awards.

Finally, for the next year, this has been an increasingly powerful story at King’s over the last three years. I have no doubt that the coming year will be no different. I am sure that we will perform against our agreed objectives in our Sustainability Charter. One thing I intend to do is report regularly to Council about that now, because we have some momentum around that and I think it has reached that stage. I was reading a university I worked at for many years in Australia, the University of Melbourne, is recycling their office equipment, and they have made and saved a bit of money in this highly sustainable agenda. I was delighted to see on our notice boards that we have saved £40,000 just by recycling office furniture at King’s, which is a phenomenal achievement and exactly the sort of initiative we need to continue.

In my own contribution over the next year, I am going to ensure that as we launch the new King’s Business School as the next Faculty at King’s, sustainable development and educating business people for the future in triple line reporting and in sustainable development will be a key theme of our school, that I want it to become renowned for throughout the world. That again will be a big step forward for King’s.

In summary, it has been a terrific year. Thank you to you all for the contributions you have made, it’s all about you, about what you do and what you achieve. And I think next year, we will continue on this upward curve. Thank you all.”

King’s Sustainability Awards 2017

The annual King’s College London Sustainability Awards took place on Monday the 3rd July. The Awards highlighted the growing commitment and enthusiasm of the King’s community for sustainable development, one of the enabling foundations of Vision 2029.

During the ceremony, 45 teams comprising of over 200 Sustainability Champions were acknowledged for all their hard work in introducing sustainable practices into their workspaces over the course of the academic year. The ceremony also celebrated the efforts of staff and students who have made significant contributions to sustainable development across our operations, teaching, research and the wider King’s community.

Professor Edward Byrne, President & Principal of King’s College London, opened the Awards by highlighting the importance of sustainability and the work of the Sustainability Champions. He also announced that King’s recently achieved the ISO14001:2015 certification for the Estates operations on all campuses, including residences and sportsgrounds. You can find out more about the certification in the Estates & Facilities news.

Kat Thorne, Head of Sustainability, then reviewed the progress King’s has made in sustainability over the last  year. Over 200 Sustainability Champions have carried out over 1,500 sustainability actions, resulting in 45 teams receiving Sustainability Awards. At an operational level, the university has reduced its carbon emissions by 26% since 2005/06, despite significant growth during this time period. The furniture re-use project Warp-It has now saved over £50,000 in procurement costs. In relation to sustainable food, the university is now a member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, and has applied for Fairtrade University status.

The 45 Champions teams were then awarded Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards. This year, 18 teams achieved Bronze, 19 teams achieved Silver, and 8 teams were awarded Gold. In addition to this, we celebrated individual Champions, staff and teams who went above and beyond in their roles to embed sustainability into King’s.

All photos are now available here.

Thank you to all of those who have played a part in the Sustainability Awards this year, including our over 200 Champions!

The award winners and Professor Ed Byrne

The award winners and Professor Ed Byrne

SPA takes itself to task on sustainability

Laura Westwood SPAThis week’s guest blog comes courtesy of Laura Westwood. Laura is an Internal Auditor within the Directorate of Strategy, Planning & Assurance.

(The views presented do not necessarily reflect those of King’s Sustainability.)


The last couple of months have seen a proliferation of posters and a new recycling bin in the Directorate of Strategy, Planning & Assurance.  Handily located at the tea point, the new bin makes each coffee break an unavoidable opportunity to do our bit – and we’ve additionally committed to using only eco-friendly coffee pods.

Before the bin arrived, we had to walk to the kitchen across the corridor to recycle waste.  Hardly an onerous task, I admit, but when one lunches al desko on rainy days, absent-mindedly favouring the nearest receptacle can become a habit.  I have rescued several stray banana skins from the floor under my desk this week, as I habituate to our personal bin ‘cull’!

When our Directorate Sustainability Champion, Sian, came to the Internal Audit team meeting, the information she shared with us showed that some of the choices we make with good intentions may in fact be ill-informed.  I had been convinced that rinsing my cup under the tap was preferable to leaving it in the dishwasher, but Sian explained that if we avoid using sinks and run one dishwasher cycle per day, our energy efficiency will improve.

My personal good news story is that, confronted with the information on one of our new office posters that King’s produces ten tons of waste each day, I logged into Papercut for the first time and resolved to curtail my printing activities.  I find it much easier to absorb information when I read it on paper, but I’ve made a concerted effort.  My first zero-printing week occurred this month, and I hope for many more.

The next step for the Strategy, Planning & Assurance sustainability team is to advance our ideas for contributing to the local community.  Talks are underway with local organisations to build on the success of previous years’ clothing collections by welcoming homeless guests for a hearty meal served by King’s staff and students.   New and nearly new clothing and accessories are planned to be collected and displayed in ‘retail’ style, so that guests can browse at leisure and select pieces to take away.

All in all, the drive for sustainability in SPA has pushed me to fully accept my duty to demonstrate sustainable behaviours at work.  However insignificant our individual ‘oops’ moments may seem amongst an 8000-strong staff population, they add up to serious environmental impact.  I can no longer gloss over my environmental footprint, because with Sian’s help, it has been laid out in front of me – and I’m thankful for that.

Laura Westwood is an Internal Auditor within the Directorate of Strategy, Planning & Assurance. 

How to deal with food waste: Introducing the Wormery

For most of us, food waste is an everyday reality. Whether it is buying vegetables we can’t quite finish, or cooking too much pasta or rice, it is hard to avoid. At Champion Hill Residence, students have two great alternatives to throwing food waste in the general waste bin – and one of them involves some very interesting ‘pets’.

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Composting bin

In September this year, the Champion Hill team sent out emails to new residents to see if anyone was interested in a food composting project. Since then, 22 kitchens signed up and picked up their food waste caddies – that’s 25% of residents! The composting bin is located in the courtyard of Beech block, and open at the bottom to make it possible for insects to get inside and help the composting process. And it’s not just for food waste: paper and cardboard make composting more efficient – and less smelly.

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The Wormery

But, hidden from sight, there is another way of breaking down food waste: a Wormery. In a wormery, a colony of worms eats through the food waste. While it might not sound nice, worms are highly efficient at dealing with waste, and leave behind useful by-products in the form of fertiliser for plants. The residence’s Sustainability Champion Holly found out about wormeries while researching food composting, and loved the idea. At the moment, the Champion Hill wormery is home to around 480 red tiger worms – a number that is expected to increase rapidly once the worms start breeding in the warmer months.

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The healthy worm diet

They eat most things we eat: vegetables and fruit, peelings, bread, cake, and even pizza. To make sure they get a healthy diet, the team has placed a ‘worm menu’ next to the wormery (see picture). How quickly food waste is composted depends on the temperature: At the moment, worm activity is lower due to the cold, but activity and composting is expected to speed up when it gets warmer. And it turns out worms are not very demanding pets. Even though you do need to add a handful of lime mix every couple of weeks to prevent acid build-up (and to help the worms’ digestion!), once worms are fed they can be left alone for a few weeks.

The container is sealed, and liquid can be taken out through a tap at the bottom, which prevents the nasty smells we often associate with composting bins. This liquid is also rich in nutrients. Diluted, it can be sprayed onto plants as fertiliser.

And much like in conventional composting bins, the solid material worms leave behind can also be used to fertilise plants. Both the composting bin and wormery are relatively new, but once the fertiliser from both of them is ready in the spring/summer, the Champion Hill team plans to make the most of it.

Inside the wormery - no worms visible due to cold weather

Inside the wormery – no worms visible due to cold weather

One idea is to set up a herb garden in the residence, making the space more interesting for students, as well as adding to the biodiversity of the courtyard. If you have been at Champion Hill recently, you will have seen the early stages of this project. As a university, we are constantly working on improving our environmental footprint. Efforts such as the food composting projects by the Sustainability Champion Holly and the rest of the Champion Hill team are an excellent example of how this can be achieved through new and sometimes unusual ideas.

Resident at Champion Hill and want to compost food waste? Make sure you know what you can and cannot dispose of at Champion Hill by contacting the residence team. The composting bin is located in the courtyard of Beech block. The wormery is not directly open to students to make sure the worms get the correct diet, but food waste from participating kitchens is taken there by staff.

Watch: Principal Professor Ed Byrne’s speech at the KCL Sustainability Champions Awards 2016

On Tuesday the 5th July the annual Sustainability Awards were held at the Great Hall at Strand. The event represented the culmination of the Sustainability Champions scheme which has seen over 100 staff and students actively involved as Sustainability Champions. Their actions over the past year have affected almost 2000 members of staff across the University.

Professor Ed Byrne, the President & Principal of King’s College London, praised the leadership by staff and students in collectively working to reduce the University’s carbon footprint.

Transcript:

“I am really pleased to be with you tonight. I don’t think there is any more important task that any of us in our lives have, as far as society and the planet goes, than the sustainability agenda. It’s been prominent for most of my life but getting increasingly clear that for 8-9 billion people to live on this planet with reasonable qualities of life requires so many things to change.

Sustainability is crucial in itself, but as I have travelled the world and especially as I have visited India and China increasingly over the years I have come to realise that sustainable development is also important. It is not just about maintaining a relatively small number people in the west on a very high standard of living, we have to reach a stage where everyone on the planet has a reasonable quality of life in a sustainable way.

Now this is an immense journey from where we are now and I have a belief that universities are a crucial part of the journey. Part of that is obvious. The Millenium Sustainable Development Goals have been contributed to very significantly by an academic network around the world. We all know of fantastic individual institutions like the Earth Institute at Columbia which do fantastic work in planning for the future. At King’s we are forming an alliance most of you may have heard of called the PLuS Alliance with the University of New South Wales and Arizona State University. A contribution in a broader sense to sustainability and sustainable development is at the heart of this alliance. Now this is all a little bit esoteric in one sense, in research intensive institutions we can contribute ideas for the future, we can do modelling we can do planning, we can deal in technological advances that are all incredibly helpful. But at the end of the day we all have to do something else as well. And that is to make sure that our own impact on the world around is as friendly in an environmental sense as it possibly can be. And if universities are going to champion this we must also be champions of how we act and deal with things in the day to day so that our energy footprint is as modest as it possibly can be.

We are doing all of that at King’s and this is something that has been increasingly embraced by the King’s community led by our students, with fantastic leadership by the students but coming together more broadly with a cross university working group. We have been looking at every aspect of the story: how we run our buildings, how we use energy ourselves, what research and intellectual proposition we can give that help understand and improve these huge issues, how we can provide an example by developing more fit for purpose investment policies for our financial reserves to make sure that we are investing in environmentally friendly industries. The list goes on and on.

This isn’t about me. It’s not even about a small number of people. It’s about many, many people in our university community who are implementing changes on the ground, supporting our sustainability champions that we are here to honour but also for all of us in our everyday life who are doing things whether it is in our job description or not. From lab managers and office managers, cleaners who make sure our waste is recycled, managers who show leadership and support their staff, the engineers, the security staff who have a responsibility to make sure our waste goes in the right bins, making sure your lights are turned off when you leave your office at the end of the day. These all seem small actions and maybe individually they are small, but when you add them up collectively they add up to a commitment to do our very best to be as environmentally friendly as we can in our own energy footprint.

Now students are totally committed to this area. The expectations of our student body are increasing and thank goodness that’s the case. We have had student leaders really leading the university thinking in many aspects of sustainability and sustainable development. I have already alluded briefly to the work of the Socially Responsible Investment Review Committee over the past year, the Ethics and Environmental Careers Conference that our students ran. I would also like to mention that our students have been heavily involved in social enterprises and student environmental societies. These are all fantastic developments.

I wanted to highlight how students can be involved with a range of examples: extending from the King’s graduate who is a paid intern who runs the scheme every year, as well as students who support the sustainability champions scheme directly and all of those that acted as auditors for our workbooks. It is clear that whatever they study, whatever faculty they’re in, our students should be able to leave King’s with an education that allows them to be part of the solution to the social, economic and environmental challenges our world faces.

As King’s gets larger, bigger as a university, we have to work on these issues even harder. It is a good thing our environmental impact is not growing at the same rate as our university is overall. So far we have a good track record on energy use. We have reduced our carbon footprint by 8.8 percent since 2005/2006 despite significant growth in staff and student numbers. But in order to achieve the reductions needed by the planet, 43% by 2020, we all need to think about how we can be even more efficient in how we use university resources, space and equipment. Give attention to your laboratory usage: look at integrating sustainable and efficient practices in our scientific practices generally across our research spectrum. Be aware that as KCLs research and environment are steadily growing, it is important that we restrain growth in our energy usage and that it is not growing at the same rate. We are starting on that journey but it is a journey and we are not yet where we need to be.

I would like to finish by thanking everybody in this room for your individual contributions. This is a community effort by the King’s community. The fact that we have so many champions coming through is just fantastic. On behalf of the King’s community, we look forward to seeing even more champions. Thank you all and let’s now enjoy the presentations to those that deserve it and have made such a contribution over the past year. Thank you.”