January 19, 2018 / / Comments Off on Join us for the launch of Re-energise at Guy’s and Waterloo campuses
Join us for the launch of Re-energise and the film screening of An Inconvenient Sequel Truth to Power.
The Re-energise campaign aims to reduce energy use and save carbon at New Hunt’s House and Franklin-Wilkins Building, at the Guy’s and Waterloo campuses. The launch event is taking place at New Hunt’s House on the 26th January.
A range of energy saving measures have been completed, with more to follow, that will reduce carbon emissions and energy costs in New Hunt’s House and Franklin-Wilkins Building. These include the installation of LED lighting and behind the scenes measures such as the optimising controls for heating and air conditioning. However, Re-energise also needs the support of students, staff and other building users to meet the ambitious targets for energy reduction and build on the great work done by the King’s Sustainability Champions.
A decade after An Inconvenient Truth brought the climate crisis into the heart of popular culture, comes the riveting and rousing follow-up that shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution. Former Vice President Al Gore continues his tireless fight, traveling around the world training an army of climate champions and influencing international climate policy.
Cameras follow him behind the scenes — in moments both private and public, funny and poignant — as he pursues the inspirational idea that while the stakes have never been higher, the perils of climate change can be overcome with human ingenuity and passion.
From 1 October 2017, all electricity directly purchased by King’s is supplied from wind power backed by REGO (Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin) certificates. Wind backed REGO certificates guarantee that our electricity is supplied from UK renewable wind sources, making our electricity carbon free.
This includes electricity supplied to King’s directly from our energy suppliers, but excludes electricity provided by NHS Trusts on campuses with shared space.
King’s has a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 43% by 2020 compared to a 2005/06 baseline, and is committed to becoming carbon free by 2025. Purchasing renewable energy is a significant step towards this goal. In addition, King’s has made significant investments in low-carbon energy on campus in recent years. Several buildings, including Great Dover Street Apartments and Champion Hill, are equipped with solar panels, and Denmark Hill Campus and Champion Hill have Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants on site.
So far, King’s has achieved a 26% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2015/16 against a 2005/06 baseline. A recent report by Brite Green placed King’s in second place for carbon reduction within the Russell Group. The report also showed that King’s has successfully decoupled growth from growing carbon emissions, with emissions intensity (tonnes of CO2 emitted/£ of income) falling by 59% since 2008. This was the seventh best across the 127 English universities analysed.
Kat Thorne, Head of Sustainability, said: ‘Purchasing our electricity from renewable sources is an important step for us here atKing’s on our journey to zero carbon by 2029. Climate change requires an urgent response from all of us and here at King’s we will continue to identify and implement actions to reduce our energy use and related carbon emissions.’
July 24, 2017 / / Comments Off on King’s achieves ISO14001:2015 certification
King’s College London operates an Environmental Management System (EMS) across all campuses. In 2016, this system was externally audited at Strand Campus, and certified with the ISO14001:2015 standard.
This year, Estates & Facilities have worked to extend the certification to all campuses, including Residences and sports grounds. Following a successful external audit of all campuses, the Environmental Management System is now ISO14001:2015 certified across King’s Estates & Facilities. Professor Ed Byrne announced the great news at this year’s Sustainability Awards.
Solar panels on the roof of GDSA
ISO14001 is an international standard which helps organisations use resources more efficiently and reduce waste. This achievement demonstrates the strong commitment and leadership for sustainability at King’s, which is apparent not only through the many initiatives underway, but through King’s Strategic Vision 2029, which has sustainability as one of the enabling foundations.
The EMS is at the heart of embedding sustainability at King’s, and takes a holistic view of the environmental impacts and risks arising from our activities. As well as minimising negative impacts, it drives improvement through identifying opportunities for King’s. One of the highlights noted in the audits were the opportunities for enhancing biodiversity. There is a lot of green space at our sports grounds, but even at our main campuses improvements have been made – such as the instalment of bird boxes and an insect hotel at Guy’s Campus.
On achieving the certification, Nick O’Donnell (Acting Director of Estates & Facilities) said: “We’re delighted to receive the certification, and are very pleased to be recognised for the progress we are making in reducing our impacts. This is a fantastic achievement for all operational teams in Estates & Facilities and for our service partners, working across such a large and diverse organisation.”
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:
“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.”
May 25, 2017 / / Comments Off on Champion Hill win Student Switch Off!
Every year, King’s runs the NUS Student Switch Off competition in its halls of residence. The aim of the competition is to encourage students to save energy. We started the campaign in autumn with visits to every hall, and NUS continued it throughout the year with photo competitions, quizzes and lots of prizes.
At the end of each year, the hall that saved the most energy compared to the previous year wins a delivery of Ben & Jerry’s for their hall. This year, we upped the difficulty and added recycling scores to the mix. So on top of making sure they were energy-efficient, students had to take care with what they put in which bin.
This year, Champion Hill Residence were the lucky winners. They came second in the energy-saving ranking, but due to their great recycling performance they managed to take the overall trophy.
So on a sunny day last week, we headed down to reward Champion Hill residents for their effort. In total, we handed out 400 tubs of Ben & Jerry’s (as well as some vegan soy ice cream) to students! With exam period in full swing, this was a well-deserved break for many residents. See for yourself:
400 tubs of ice cream, ready to be handed out
Signs at reception to direct students to our giveaway
Ice cream time!
A sunny day during exam period was the perfect time for an ice cream giveaway/break
In addition to winning the Student Switch Off, Champion Hill also has a great range of sustainability initiatives. We have previously featured the Champion Hill Wormery on our blog, which exists in addition to composting bins. The courtyard also has a pond and a plot for a planned herb garden. Finally, Champion Hill also has a Combined Heat and Power Plant (CHP) and solar PV panels on the roof, making sure the energy used in the halls comes from more sustainable sources!
The first term is now officially over! But before you head home for your holidays, please remember to turn off all non-essential equipment at the plug – think computers (& monitors), decorative lights, kettles and microwaves. If you can, also consider emptying your fridge and turning it off while you are away (you can always use up food by throwing a pre-holidays party!).
By doing this, you will help King’s achieve its goal of a 43% reduction in energy consumption by 2020, as well as support the Paris Pledge for Action to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius.
Read more about what to consider when leaving King’s here.
And if you need any extra motivation – this puppy really wants you to switch off anything you don’t need.
Image by @estateskings
To find out about which King’s buildings and libraries will be open outside of term, please visit the Estates & Facilities internal webpages.
With the end of term fast approaching, Christmas is now just over two weeks away! Once we add up all the presents, wrapping paper, cards, food, trees and lights, Christmas can often have a significant impact on the environment. By taking small actions that don’t require a lot of effort, we can all reduce this negative impact without missing out on the Christmas spirit! Here are our top tips to make your Christmas holidays more sustainable:
1. Christmas Trees
It’s difficult to talk about Christmas without talking about Christmas trees. You might notice a heated debate about what is more sustainable: a real Christmas tree, or an artificial one. Artificial trees certainly have benefits, the main one being that they can be re-used for many years. Reuse is the key here: a study claimed that artificial trees should be reused for 20 years to be ‘greener’ than buying a real tree every year.
But not all real trees are made equal: Make sure yours is grown using sustainable practices. One way of doing this is checking whether your seller is part of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association. Or consider looking for an organic tree. If you want a real tree that you can reuse, you could get a pot-grown tree, which will live for many years – you can even rent them! After taking down your tree, remember to check with your local council how you can recycle the tree to make sure it does not end up in landfill.
And if you want to see what a Christmas tree farm looks like, The Guardian recently published a photo essay following the life of a Christmas tree!
2. Gifts that matter
If you are tired of buying gifts that might end up in a dark corner of the house by New Year’s Eve, why not try to do something a bit different? Gifting an experience is a great way of avoiding waste, and there is something out there for everyone. Struggling to find a present for that one friend who only drinks single-batch coffee and complains about coffee chains? Many independent London cafés offer classes on how to make the perfect cup of coffee at home. Someone in need of de-stressing after December deadlines – or before January exams? Why not book a pampering session for them (extra points if your salon of choice uses organic products)! You could also cook a great meal for someone, or spend time doing something they love with them – in our hectic world, our time is often one of the most valuable things we can give.
For a gift that makes a difference, you could also consider giving to charity in someone’s name. After we have all been watching Planet Earth II for the last few weeks, adopting/sponsoring an endangered species seems like an obvious option (no baby iguanas or racer snakes, but plenty of big cats, gorillas and penguins).
3. It’s what’s on the outside that counts
If you do have a physical gift to wrap, consider ditching non-recyclable shiny wrapping paper for more environmentally-friendly options. This can be wrapping paper made from recycled materials, a box you can re-use, or something homemade. Richard, one of our team members, collects pictures from newspapers and magazines in the weeks leading up to Christmas to create his own personalised wrapping paper. Even if you are not the most talented crafter out there, websites like Pinterest have hundreds of ideas for DIY gift wrap (if it does end up looking bad – #PinterestFail will make you feel better, we promise).
4. Switching off at King’s
Before you leave King’s for your well-deserved Christmas holidays, remember that you can help the environment by switching off any non-essential equipment. This can make a huge difference – last year, King’s used 70% less electricity on Christmas Day than it did just one week earlier. If you are a student in residences, you can make a big contribution to this. At Great Dover Street Apartments alone, students moving out and switching off at the end of term meant that electricity use dropped by 55% in just one week!
This year, we would like everyone to keep up the good work, and try to see if there is anything else that can be switched off over the holidays. Our top tip is to turn appliances off at the plug to ensure they are not wasting energy. Even when they are switched off, some devices will continue to use electricity while they are plugged in, known as ‘vampire power’. A common culprit are mobile phone chargers – they will continue to use energy when plugged in, even if there is no phone connected to them.
We hope these tips give you some inspiration on how to make Christmas more sustainable! What are your top tips to cut down on waste and help the environment over the festive period?
September 12, 2016 / / Comments Off on 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.
“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.”
As we discussed last week, King’s is currently reviewing the methods and guidelines that exist for fundraising, research grants, procurement and investments. Aligning procedures with ethical values matters because it signals an active commitment to shifting our economy towards a low-carbon trajectory.
Building a more sustainable institution requires more than rewriting existing policy, however. At a practical level, our most significant environmental impact stems from keeping the lights on across our sites. With 27,600 registered students, 6,600 staff members, five London campuses and more than ten halls of residence, King’s is a prodigious consumer of energy. Reducing our carbon footprint through investments in energy efficiency and switching to alternative forms of energy therefore represents an area of significant potential impact.
King’s College London has committed to a reduction of 43% in carbon emissions by 2019/2020 against a 2005/06 baseline. This effort has been targeted at emissions arising from the use of oil, gas and electricity in daily operations. As outlined in the 2011 Carbon Management Plan, King’s low carbon vision is to reduce carbon emissions through the application of energy efficiency methods and the use of low carbon technologies.
CO2 emissions 2008-2009: Energy use in buildings comprises the vast majority of the total footprint
Investing in smarter, greener and less energy-intensive systems is already bringing economic and environmental dividends. Since 2005/06, the implementation of the Carbon Management Plan has led to annual savings of approximately £3.6m. In 2014/2015 alone, investments in energy efficiency projects led to reductions in excess of 688tCO2e.
Yet, as the number of King’s students and staff continues to grow and as the university expands to new sites, there is a need to scale investments in carbon reduction projects to achieve the 43% reduction target by 2019/2020. Jon Wibberley, Karen Shaw and the wider Sustainability Team are continuously working towards identifying the most promising areas for investment in energy savings.
Over the past year, this effort has centred on upgrading heating and lighting in a number of King’s Residences. Undoubtedly, the most eye-catching of these carbon reduction projects has been the installation of solar panels on the roof of the Great Dover Street Apartments (GDSA). The panels were installed on Blocks 1-10 of GDSA in the spring semester of 2016 and are now fully operational.
With a net capacity of 84.97kW and an estimated annual electricity generation of 71,510 kWh, the panels are expected to result in annual onsite savings of £9,140. These savings are projected to increase by approximately £1000 p.a. going forward to 2025. At an installation cost of £119,635, this represents excellent value for money.
Solar panels on the roof of GDSA
The solar panel installation at GDSA is not solely the product of long-sighted thinking by the King’s Energy team, however. Students were involved in initial conversations held between KCLSU and KCL to jointly fund the GDSA solar panels. In the end the UK government’s decision to reduce the feed-in tariffs from January 1st 2016 meant that there was not enough time to finalise the project. Nevertheless, Energy Management Coordinator Karen Shaw credits the broad student support for renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives as important in “building momentum for future projects”.
Student involvement is not only important in helping carbon reduction projects get off the ground, but also in ensuring they are successful once they lift off. In addition to the solar panels, the spring semester saw several other upgrades at GDSA: personal fridges were replaced by larger communal fridges in the kitchens, LED lights and presence detectors were installed in kitchens and hallways and a more efficient heating system will be installed. These changes are part of a five year refurbishment project taking place at both Great Dover Street and Stamford Street.
A number of other major projects which have been completed successfully are worth mentioning: solar PV and Combined Heat & Power (CHP) is contributing to substantial energy savings at Champion Hill; Ground Source Cooling has been installed at the at the Wohl; Ground Source Heat Pumps are in operation at Cicely Saunders and both Cicely Saunders and Honour Oak Park use solar thermal energy to heat water.
Honour Oak Park
Many more projects are in the pipeline over the next couple of years as part of a broader strategy to “design out” energy use from daily operations.
Yet, technological solutions can only go so far. Achieving real energy savings requires the participation of students. And here the good news is that lots of students are very conscious of the need to save energy. This past academic year, students in Stamford Street Apartments, Great Dover Street Apartments, Wolfson House and Champion Hill used 4.3% less energy compared to the 2014/15 academic year. Students play a role both in conserving energy and in identifying areas of energy wastage.
Going forward we hope to build on these achievements and lower our impact further. Students will remain central to this ambition being realised.
As always if you have comments, queries or suggestions do not hesitate to get in touch:
June 9, 2016 / / Comments Off on A Look Back at the SRIRC and Changes Taking Place at King’s
First things first, my name is Tobias Udsholt and I will be working with the Sustainability Team at King’s over the next few months.
As a student at King’s I have spent a lot of time engaged on issues relating to sustainability. Now that I have completed my degree, I am very excited to spend the summer months putting words into action. I will only be with the team for a short period of time before I begin an MSc in Environmental Economics at LSE in September, but I hope to get a lot done. You can get in touch with me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org.
One area of particular interest to me is the debate over the role and responsibilities of universities in relation to the array of societal challenges we collectively face. As I see it, universities stand uniquely placed to nurture an understanding of the importance of sustainability amongst its students while playing a positive and active role in the wider social debate.
Grass root campaigns calling for divestment from fossil fuel companies have sparked intense debate on university campuses over the past few years. How far should universities go in taking a stance on issues such as climate change? Can engagement with companies whose business-models centre on the extraction of fossil fuels help shift us towards a more sustainable trajectory? And how should strategical objectives be balanced with ethical dilemmas?
King’s responded to the Fossil Free KCL campaign in November 2015, by setting up the Socially Responsible Investment Review Committee (SRIRC) and tasking it with a wide-ranging review of practices. On the same occasion Professor Ed Byrne, the Principal of King’s, released a statement reiterating “the commitment of King’s College London to doing more to bring about a low carbon and just world.”
The review conducted at King’s is distinct from the approach taken by many other universities in the UK. Rather than focusing solely on the framework for making investment decisions, the scope of the SRIRC extends to in-house energy management, research grants and contracts, fundraising, procurement and of course investments. By formulating a new university-wide strategy for incorporating ethical considerations into daily-operations, sustainability is put on the agenda across the board. This presents a good opportunity for the Sustainability Team to feed in ideas for new sustainable procedures in a variety of areas. If you want to participate in this process you can either send your recommendations directly to email@example.com or via us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Wednesday, the SRIRC held its second Open Forum to discuss the draft recommendations issued by the committee. I invite you all to browse through the discussion points but among the highlights are the following:
King’s plans to identify high quality managers that specialise in investments in solutions to climate change and other environmentally friendly issues.
King’s is currently working to create more incentives for academics to disclose consulting engagements.
There is spectrum for closer supervision of the supply-chains of contractors employed by King’s.
Policy is in place to reject prospective funding from organisations that are deemed harmful.
The discussion paper also revealed that King’s has been an important player in the establishment of a new tobacco-free fund at BlackRock Investments. This illustrates that there are a number of options available to secondary investors that do not directly control the destination of their investment.
The Open Forum itself was lively and well-attended. The panel-speakers included two student representatives, Dr. Tytus Murphy and Nadine Almanasfi, the Student Union President, as well as Ian Creagh, Head of Administration and College Secretary, Chris Mottershead, Vice-Principal (Research & Innovation) and Professor Sridhar Venkatapuram. In the ensuing question-and-answer session students probed the criteria set out to identify opportunities for positive investment and how the governance structure of the committee will be formalised going forward.
The SRIRC will make their final recommendations to the Principal by October.
Next week is Bike Week at King’s so expect a foray of information on cycling facilities, safety and initiatives at King’s.