Month: May 2015

Meet Estates and Facilities – Fit for King’s

It’s Week 3 of ‘Meet Estates and Facilities’ and today brings us to Vicki, the Fit for King’s manager at King’s, who also works within the training team.

Fit for King’s is a programme that aims to help King’s ‘provide a world class service for a world class university’. It is a customer service cultural change programme, which includes 10, hour long training sessions based around the Fit For King’s commitments that all Estates staff take over their first year at King’s. Vicki’s main role is to ensure that all staff across all the campuses are kept up to date with Fit for King’s. Vicki is also a Fit for King’s trainer and organises and develops the sessions throughout the year.

Within Fit for King’s there is an award scheme which recognises those that have shown commitment to the Fit for King’s commitments. For this, members of staff are awarded vouchers and all invited to attend the annual awards at which someone is selected for an overall Fit for King’s award.

Fit For King’s also provides a mentoring scheme for its staff in Estates. Staff can either apply to be mentors and mentees, with the opportunity to work towards helping staff members plan for the future and develop their current role. This is a great way to link people within Estates together and this year there are 27 mentees and 14 mentors.

Wbinsithin Fit for King’s there are multiple ways in which it links to sustainability. Firstly each team (Estates teams for example Capital House or Guy’s estates team), produce a termly plan which address PPP: people, processes and premises. Each team come up with one thing that they are going to do in order to improve each of these Ps. Last term, Guy’s Estates work on premises saw the addition of the new recycle bins within Guy’s Quad. This term, Capital House team are looking at removing all under desk bins and improving signage for recycling.

Fit for King’s also runs an Induction session for all new staff to King’s. Within this the Sustainability team have a slot in which they can introduce the team to everyone and share our sustainable values.

Finally, we also have one of our members from the Sustainability team (Ann) who is a Fit for King’s trainer, ensure that a face of sustainability is seen by most estates staff and also she is given the opportunity to help develop training sessions and embed sustainability further into the programme.


Sustainable labs at King’s

Martin_labsThis week we are catching up with Martin, our Sustainable Labs Project Coordinator, to find out how he is getting on with making King’s labs more sustainable.

As part of Martins job he is currently collecting information about various different pieces of equipment throughout the labs at King’s. Within these surveys he is looking at a variety of lab specific equipment including drying cabinets and fume cupboards, with an aim to reduce energy consumption and improve usage.

One current project involves replacing drying cabinets with much more efficient models. Furthermore Martin has been giving out timers to labs so that non-critical equipment such as drying cabinets can be turned off at night and then come on again in the morning, saving plenty of energy during nights. The estimated savings from the timers alone is expected to save around £30,000 over the next 10 years at King’s.

Martin is also looking at fume hoods and their usage to ensure they are being used correctly and are working as efficiently as possible. Many of the fume hoods are VAV (variable air volume) which have the potential to save a lot of energy. However it is vital that these are being used correctly and Martin is surveying to determine the status of our current usage.

Another large part of Martins role focuses on Sustainability Champions in labs. Within this programme, labs teams are asked to complete a workbook, which looks at improve the sustainability of the lab from waste and recycling to chemicals and materials. There are now 9 lab teams across King’s, representing the labs from all campuses. All of the Champions are at least at bronze level and are working hard to improve the sustainability of their labs. Martin is currently in the process of auditing these area and the awards for labs will be in July, hosted by Nick O’Donnell.

If you’d like to get your lab involved or would like more information on sustainable labs please contact Martin. 

Meet Estates and Facilities: The Service Desk

Service Standards poster image_jpgOver the next few weeks we are meeting various members of different teams within Estates and Facilities. Each week we’ll be asking the team what they do and how they are linked to sustainability at King’s. For our first week we meet Alison and Debbie from the Service Desk.

The service desk, you might know them as, are very busy people! Any request, problem, feedback or information you need they will sort it for you. It is ‘the first point of call for Estates and Facilities information and service requests’. So, for example, if you have a problem with your heating in your classroom or notice a broken lock around campus, the Service Desk are the people to ask!

The Service Desk are in operation Monday to Friday, 8:30am -5:30pm and are there to help students and staff receive the best possible care and help to communicate and resolve problems quickly and efficiently.

We asked the team what they do with sustainability and at first there were not sure if they did anything at all. However, once we talked through a few things it was clear that the Service Desk has accomplished some amazing sustainable achievements and has a lot of sustainable values at their core. Two examples which really highlighted the amazing work the Service Desk does were the termination of printed tickets and recycling of WEEE waste.

Up until March this year, every request put into the service desk was printed out and sent to the relevant team to act upon. Now this has all become electronic, reducing the Service Desks printing dramatically, saving a lot of paper, energy and in turn money for King’s. This is fantastic!

Another initiative that the Service Desk applies is the redistribution of WEEE waste (anything linked to electrical, such as PCs, lamps, Keyboards) with the IT department. If anyone has equipment they no longer want or if they require equipment and contact ASK, the Service Desk work with IT to reuse equipment rather than disposing of items. This again is a great use of resources and reduces the amount King’s throws away. A future project that the Service Desk and the Sustainability Team may work on together is a similar scheme but with furniture recycling and reuse, throughout King’s offices and also within student residences.

It was great to talk Alison and Debbie in the service desk and learn more about the vital service they provide. Here in the Sustainability team we are really pleased to hear that they are working hard to improve King’s and in turn are becoming more sustainable. If you do have any requests, feedback or problems please do contact, or visit their webpage or ring them on 020 7848 3456.service desk

That time I went Vegan

[This guest post comes courtesy of Elle Harris, a 2nd year French and German Student who is also a member of Ecosoc, Fossil free and Urban garden projects and is a student rep for the Sustainable food steering group and is also president of KCL stop the Traffik. The views presented do not necessarily reflect those of King’s Sustainability]

From the offset I should just clarify, I am not a very good vegan. The King’s community contains many more impressive vegans who will truly wow you with their dedication to the cause, as opposed to my novice ways. That said, I feel I am in a unique and exciting stage of adopting a lasting vegan lifestyle i.e. the transition from vegetarian to vegan and can provide some confirmation that even the small steps are ok. So I feel my humble story can offer a refreshing outlook on how this whole veganism thing isn’t really as radical or scary as it sounds – it is surprisingly simple and makes a lot of sense!

Beginning with the start of the vegetarian lifestyle. After 18 solid years of eating meat, within the first month of university I decided to stop (which was surprisingly easy!). Despite years of watching horrific PETA videos, it didn’t seem to click that not eating meat was a logical response. Due to the questionable vegetarian options at my catered halls, I continued to eat fish, but my morals soon caught up with me and when I went home for Easter (and had more control in the kitchen), it was proper vegetarianism from then on. So, in terms of the veggie part of my life, it was primarily prompted in support of animal rights. Why kill a cow for dinner when there are SO MANY other things to eat that provide just as much satisfaction and nutrients?! I am not even a massive ‘animal lover’, but still, it just seems so absurd and unnecessarily greedy to eat meat in this modern day.

Moving swiftly on to the vegan ‘step’, I began at the end of January 2015 (so it wouldn’t get caught up in that New Years Resolution phase and become an immediate fail). Although vegetarianism was prompted primarily for the animal rights issues, my involvement within environmental groups last term introduced me to the environmental side of the meat industry. Watching ‘Cowspiracy’ finally pushed me to begin the transition, a film that puts the effects of the cattle industry on the environment in real perspective. It not only confirmed my vegetarian ways but also highlighted how the dairy and egg industry are just as bad.

To ensure this would be an actual lifestyle change, I started by being a vegan during the weekdays and then a vegetarian on the weekend (mainly to eat Quorn fajitas). The whole ‘Protein Problem’ that I was often bombarded with as a vegetarian is ever more present with veganism, but once more, it is misinformed. Granted I eat a lot of lentils and sweet potato, but this whole ‘restricted’ diet malarkey isn’t the case at all. There are so many fabulous recipes out there that makes vegan food fun. If anything I am more conscious of my protein intake, so I probably have stronger bones than meat-eaters who rarely eat fruit or veg. There are some unlikely perks of not eating meat too, for example, the limited veggie/vegan options on menus means I annoy my company less by being more decisive. Also, the feeling when you beat the system by discovering that something labelled as ‘vegetarian’ is actually ‘vegan’ is so rewarding that you will be put you in some ethical high all day. People often comment that such a lifestyle is costly. Granted, if you have a splurge at Wholefoods every week, this would apply (just like if a meat-eater went cray at TGI’s). However, with kidney beans at 30p a tin and a packet of rice lasting weeks, it is actually saving me a lot of pennies! It is also great for the environment. especially when comparing CO2 emissions, Oil and water use and land needed to sustain an omnivore diet to that of a vegan.

To sum up, I could literally ramble on for hours about reasons to go meat-free. It’s not in my nature to be that pushy veggie girl, but I hope this brief insight into my own vegan attempts shows that it is a journey that shouldn’t be rushed but rather, enjoyed – I get excited when I see soy yogurt on offer and the way to my heart is with a bag of hummus crisps. A poignant moment which confirmed that this is the right lifestyle for me happened over Christmas when I accidentally ate pork scratching, thinking they was just really salty breadsticks. Despite my initial horror, slips like this are okay. It proved my Eco and ethical ways are not just a university fad and veganism is the lifestyle for me. It is clear there is a lot of room for improvement in my own diet, but I hope I have demonstrated that even a switch to soy milk in your coffee is still a great step to eating sustainably. So, for the animals, the planet, your health, there are a wealth of reasons to go meat-free.