Category: Staff (Page 1 of 9)

King’s is re-certified with the international standard ISO14001 for our environmental management system

This update is brought to you by Nicola Hogan, King’s Sustainability Manager for Operations.


King’s was recently re-certified with the international standard ISO14001 for our environmental management system.

For those of you not familiar with the international standard, it provides a framework that the King’s Estates and Facilities team can follow for guidance on best environmental practice, and subsequently submit evidence of their environmental performance. The system and its evidence are then audited by an external auditor for certification to the standard.

The recertification was awarded by NQA after one of their auditors carried out a 6-day external audit of 4 of our sites (Bush House, Guy’s Campus, Honor Oak Park and Great Dover Street Apartments). He also audited our various EMS documents, for further evidence of adherence to the ISO:140001 standard.

The auditor, who has audited King’s before and knows the campus quite well, was particularly impressed with the extent to which we communicate with staff and students via social media and newsletter. Being re-certified with this standard is important to King’s as it confirms our operations have considered their impact on the environment, minimised it where practicable and that we remain compliant with relevant legislation year on year.

An example of reduced impact on the environment includes evidencing that our recycling rates have improved and our bins are not contaminated, that our buildings source their energy from solar panels, that several of our lightings are LED and that lights and electrical equipment are not left on unnecessarily. The auditor also interviewed various staff at each site and commented on how knowledgeable everyone was about how their sites operated.

Aside from physical evidence, the auditor also needed to see that we were keeping important and relevant documentation up to date, that we were making changes in line with changes in legislation and that external global activities such as climate change, COP26, COVID and fuel supply shortages had been considered. Examples of such documents are our list of objectives and targets, our compliance register, our aspects and interested parties, and an up-to-date Environmental and Sustainable Policy that refers to the EMS.

The Sustainability Team are delighted at being re-certified but agree that we should not rest on our laurels. While our overall score was very good, the auditor identified several areas that he considered ‘opportunities for improvement’. The wider estates and facilities teams will be working hard to make those improvements and to identify where we can make further changes that will reduce our carbon footprint further. We will be audited again in March 2023, and have already started preparing for another successful audit. 

So if you are wondering what you can do to contribute to a smaller carbon footprint, feel free to send suggestions to Sustainability@kcl.ac.uk. Alternatively, if you see resources being wasted across the estate, e-mail ask@kcl.ac.uk.

Mental health and sustainability – what’s the link?

This blog post has been adapted from a post written last year by Helena Fazeli for Mental Health Awareness Week. Trigger warning – this blog discusses mental health and suicide.


Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 May 2022) is the UK’s national week to raise awareness of mental health and mental health problems. The theme this year is loneliness and the week aims to raise awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental health and the practical steps we can take to address it.

How do mental health and sustainability intersect?

#1 SDG 3 – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all

One of Sustainable Development Goal Three’s (SDG 3) targets is to “reduce by one-third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being”. Awareness of the importance of addressing mental health has increased in recent years, and rightly so: depression represents one of the leading causes of disability, suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst 15-29-year-olds, and people with severe mental health conditions are at risk of premature death due to preventable physical conditions (WHO, 2021). Additionally, individuals with mental health conditions may face stigma, discrimination and human rights violations. 

While SDG 3 focuses explicitly on mental health, achieving this target requires progress across all 17 SDGs. Mental health and wellbeing are intricately linked to challenges such as poverty, inequality, work, education, gender, infrastructure, air pollution, access to quality green spaces, peace etc. Not only do these factors increase the risk of poor mental health, but they also impact the accessibility and quality of mental health services. 

One example is emergency contexts, including natural disasters, conflict and forced migrationduring which many individuals will face temporary distress. In the longer term, the prevalence of common mental disorders generally doubles in a humanitarian crisis due to increased poverty, lack of security, separation from family, community and home, and trauma. Overall, it has been estimated that 1 in 5 people living in an area affected by conflict will have a common mental health condition. Finally, it is important to note that climate change is expected to exacerbate many of these issues, thus causing greater and wider distress, which leads us to our next topic… 

#2 Climate change and mental health

When you think about climate change, mental health might not be the first thing that comes to mind. We often discuss climate change on a global scale, in terms of physical processes and tangible, measurable impacts. However, it both directly and indirectly impacts individuals’ and communities’ mental health and psychological well-being. 

Indeed, climate change and its associated impacts (rising sea levels, changing temperatures, extreme weather patterns, wildfires, droughts, food and water insecurity, etc.) put at risk a range of phenomena that people and communities value and rely on in their daily lives, both material and non-material, from homes, landscapes and ecosystems to cultural traditions, livelihoods, identities and social cohesion… From forced displacement to gradual changes in an environment, feelings of loss – loss of place, loss of identity, decreased sense of self – can arise. And, as mentioned above, these impacts are more acutely felt in communities and populations where climate change intersects with pre-existing health conditions, socioeconomic inequities and unequal power dynamics. 

#3 The rise of eco-anxiety 

As with many crises, the climate crisis is causing (justifiably) strong emotional responses, in people and communities around the world. Amongst inspiration and hope for change, feelings of anger, hopelessness, guilt and fear are common and natural. 

Eco-anxiety refers to the stress caused by “watching the slow and seemingly irrevocable impacts of climate change unfold” or the “feelings of helplessness, anger, […] panic and guilt toward the climate and ecological crisis”Force of Nature has been studying the occurrence of eco-anxiety amongst youth globally. They found that amongst 500 respondents, over 70% had experienced feelings of hopelessness in the face of climate change. 

In recognition of the interconnectedness between the health of our minds, bodies and planet, last year’s Mental Health Awareness Week’s theme was indeed nature. This demonstrates how sustainability refers not only to environmental sustainability but also to social sustainability.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed by the immensity of the climate crisis, be kind to yourself, and connect with your loved ones and your community. However, if symptoms of anxiety are interfering with your ability to function well and feel good, we encourage you to seek professional help. Here are some ways you can find support at King’s: KCLSU’s wellbeing eventsPositive PeersCounselling and Mental Health supportBlack Students TalkOut-of-hours counselling. You can also find resources here and here

Get involved this Mental Health Awareness Week

Join the Mental Health & Climate Change seminar (13 May)

What are the links between mental health and climate change? What is eco-anxiety? And how can we go about overcoming this?

To mark the UK mental health awareness week, King’s Sustainability will be joined by neuroscientist Dr Kris De Meyer for a lean-forward seminar on mental health & climate change. According to Kris, the best way to combat eco-anxiety is opening up pathways to action, to give the sense that we are not powerless and that we can indeed do something that is meaningful and can make a difference.

Kris will briefly explain the brain basis of eco-anxiety before diving into interesting break-out room activities exploring how to cope with it. Join this interactive seminar led by an expert on eco-anxiety to build your own eco-anxiety “toolkit” by identifying what your personal pathway to action might be in a safe, positive environment.

Kris is a Visiting Research Fellow at King’s Department of Neuroimaging and the Director of the UCL Climate Action Unit.

This seminar is part of a series that runs monthly between October ‘21 and June ’22 covering some of the biggest topics in sustainability. If you would like to stay in the loop about upcoming seminars, please sign up here. These seminars are linked to the KEATS Sustainability module which we are piloting this year. You can enrol on the module here.

KCLSU’s Take Time Out (3-20 May)

Take Time Out is taking place until the 20th of May and aims to encourage you to schedule in some time, away from your studies, to boost your wellbeing, take a break and connect with the King’s community. See all events here.

More opportunities at King’s

This coming week, King’s wants to focus on what we can do individually and as a community to foster connections and support each other. Access King’s gyms and BeActive programme for free and join the events on journaling, connecting with charities, a virtual coffee morning, or one of the mindfulness sessions. Find out more here.


Some further reading on the topic

Tackling social inequalities to reduce mental health problems: How everyone can flourish equally

Mental Health and our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance 

The case for systems thinking about climate change and mental health 

Caring for the environment helps to care for your mental health 

Mental health and the environment 

Mental health and wellbeing in the Sustainable Development Goals 

The Lancet Commission on global mental health and sustainable development 

This Must Be the Place: Underrepresentation of Identity and Meaning in Climate Change DecisionMaking

Place identity and climate change adaptation: a synthesis and framework for understanding

“From this place and of this place:” Climate change, sense of place, and health in Nunatsiavut, Canada

Examining relationships between climate change and mental health in the Circumpolar North 

Cycling in London event & survey

Two photographs showing a bike mechanic looking at a bicycle in the courtyard of Bush House.On 3rd March, a cycling event was held at Bush House as part of Sustainability Month to increase awareness and understanding of how students and staff can get started with cycling in London.

The event consisted of a “Dr Bike” session, where external bike maintenance mechanics provided free bike health checks, advice, and small fixes (fully funded by Westminster City Council).

Students were also on hand to provide information to help others get into cycling, particularly focusing on commuting to campus. They discussed where the bike lockers are on campus and how to access them, information offered by external organisations (for example, TFL cycle safety pages and relevant council pages for cycle buddy schemes), and KCL’s Cycling club.


Two photographs showing a bike mechanic looking at a bicycle in the courtyard of Bush House.

The COVID pandemic forced us to rethink how we travel to campus. Cycling was identified as being a safer, more sustainable mode of travel that also supports wellbeing. King’s is keen to support our ‘new ways of working’ so identifying where improvements to cycling provisions need to be made is central to that.

To help us identify what those improvements might be, please could you take this 5-minute survey by 17 May? Your responses will shape how we grow the estate to meet everyone’s needs. Please direct any queries to Ruonan Zhang.

Community Garden week at King’s

It’s King’s Community Garden week!🌳

King’s Community Garden (Guy’s Campus) was setup by Oli Austen – Sustainability Champion and senior technical officer in the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine.

Oli set up the space as gardening is a great way to connect with nature (especially for city dwellers), and evidence for the positive impact of gardening is always growing. A report by the King’s Fund in 2016 found many health benefits of gardening, including significant reductions in depression and anxiety. The Royal Horticultural Society website also lists advantages such as improving cardiovascular health and promoting a healthy diet🌸

Since its creation the garden has been tended to by undergraduate and postgraduate students, professional services staff, academics, technicians and KCLSU staff🌱

You can get involved with the community garden in the future by emailing oliver.austen@kcl.ac.uk.

An update from Rachel Harrington-Abrams, King’s Climate Action Assistant

Image of RachelHello everyone!

I am a Climate Action Assistant in the Sustainability Team and have worked in this role over the past year to grow the climate research community and interdisciplinary strategy at King’s. I am also a second-year PhD student in the Department of Geography, studying multilateral governance and decision-making on adaptation policy, particularly in situations of extreme environmental change where relocation or resettlement may be utilised. As a climate researcher myself, I am personally invested in building stronger connections with researchers across disciplines and scaling our impact as a university. As a result, I have been able to identify areas for improvement based on the experiences of fellow researchers and support efforts to unite the climate research community as part of the Sustainability Team.

Prior to beginning my PhD in 2020, I spent six years working on and studying different dimensions of climate and sustainability policy. After graduating from university, I spent two years in The Climate Group’s New York office, supporting businesses and sub-national to set shared climate action goals, develop renewable and energy efficiency targets, and evaluate their own impacts and those of their value chains. I earned my MA in Environmental Policy in 2019 from Sciences Po Paris, where I continued to explore the dimensions of sustainable transitions, including financing for climate adaptation, decarbonisation of the grid, and sustainable resource governance.

Now through my PhD, I consider the high-level policy decisions that define how governments manage adaptation. As part of the Sustainability Team, I support our research community to connect, inform, and respond to these and other dimensions of the climate crisis. I contribute to the development of the university’s Climate Action Plan and the work of the Zero Carbon Research group within the Climate Action Network. I also help coordinate the Climate Hub, one of our existing interdisciplinary research centres based on SSPP and facilitate networking and interdisciplinary partnerships across departments. I am currently involved in setting up a new network for PGRs studying climate change at King’s and am contributing to the ongoing development process for the university’s climate and sustainability research strategy.

While I primarily focus on climate research, as part of the Sustainability team I have been able to engage with other areas of our Climate Action Strategy and the work of the CAN. I have explored the costs and benefits of offsetting for net-zero emissions, and the decisions made in this area by our peer institutions; I also contributed to our efforts to map our current footprint for climate and sustainability education across the university. I was also incredibly fortunate to be able to attend COP26 alongside a colleague both for my own research and as a representative of the Sustainability team. My time in Glasgow provided a unique chance to connect with climate researchers at other UK institutions and build stronger connections with other Sustainability practitioners working within universities.

A goodbye from Bethan Spacey, the Sustainability Team’s Engagement Assistant

Selfie of BethMy name is Bethan Spacey and I am a 3rd-year English student and Sustainability Engagement Assistant (SEA). I have been in the SEA role for over a year but am unfortunately leaving now to focus on my studies. It has been an incredible experience and taught me a lot of skills that I will take through to my professional life after graduation.

I started the role in January 2021 and dove straight into the deep-end with Sustainability Month coming up that February. This was a great opportunity for me to get stuck in and involved in a massive Sustainability Team initiative – creating graphics and videos, writing blog posts, managing social media and email communications, etc.

Throughout my time in the team I’ve been able to do this and more, working on various projects and initiatives like Sustainable Living Communities, Shots for Hope and getting our podcast – Spotlight on Sustainability – off the ground. Over the course of the year, I’ve also been involved in writing newsletters, managing video projects, public speaking, interviewing people, liaising with organisations inside and outside of King’s and more.

My main job, however, has been to manage our social media. This has meant producing graphics and videos, writing captions, organising our communications plan and schedule, engaging with the King’s community and collecting data through interactive stories e.g. Instagram polls.

As a part of my role, I introduced weekly spotlights. These are weekly social media posts where we highlight an individual or group at King’s that are doing incredible work within the field of sustainability: joining the Sustainability Team really opened my eyes to how much fantastic sustainability work was already happening. at King’s, so I thought that this would be a great opportunity to foreground that work. I also introduced accessibility features like image descriptions and content warnings, with the goal of making our work as accessible as possible. In addition to this, I relaunched our YouTube channel and encouraged more videos on our social media, as I believe that videos are a quick and easy way to learn about new things and may be more suitable to my generation than lengthy posts or captions.

Despite all of the wonderful experiences and skills that I acquired, I would say that the top one was really understanding what it means to be in a team. I learnt quickly that everything operated at its smoothest when everybody was aware of their personal roles and communicated with each other effectively. I also learnt that it is important to ask for help when you need it; other team members were always willing to step in or provide assistance.

It was a very valuable experience for me and, working within a university, the team understood my obligations to my degree. I would recommend it to anyone who had the opportunity!

Sustainability Month 2022: a true celebration

What a month! Throughout February, we welcomed hundreds of people to more than 20 social and educational events focused on taking action around the Sustainable Development Goals. Organised by students, staff members, and alumni from across disciplines, this month was a true celebration of the breadth of sustainability and the King’s community’s involvement in it.

We learned to reflect on our stories in the climate and nature crisis and got inspired to take action in the events on volunteering, recycled glass, plant-based diets, and greener ways to grow your veg. We learned how we might address the climate crisis from a policy perspective, what digital start-ups can do to advance the SDGs, and what some of the main inequality issues are in South Korea. The interconnectedness of environmental and social sustainability was highlighted during the panel for climate justice and the event on the climate crisis and refugees, and we learned how we might go about translating that into education. The Shots for Hope exhibition and the Visions for the Future workshop series helped us to stay hopeful in the face of the climate crisis.

The month brought people together socially in events such as the sustainability quiz night, stitch and pitch, and the show the love campaign, as well as professionally in the interdisciplinary sustainability research forum and the London Student Sustainability Conference. The events on careers in sustainability helped students explore the breadth of what this means for their future.

If you missed an event, you can find the event recordings here. Not all recordings have been uploaded yet, but we aim to do so as soon as possible. We will also be posting event summaries and reflections on our blog over the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for those. If you have any feedback you would like to share, please fill out this feedback form. If you would like to write a blog post on an event you organised or attended, feel free to get in touch.

A welcome from Lavinia Allen, King’s Sustainability Project Assistant

Hello everyone!

I have recently joined the Sustainability Team as a Sustainability Projects Assistant. In this role, I work closely with the Sustainability Officer as well as students and staff from across King’s to deliver the university’s sustainability objectives. I am responsible for raising awareness and understanding of sustainability throughout the university through staff and student engagement. I mainly do this through supporting the Sustainability Champions network, which is designed to highlight that staff can contribute to sustainability, regardless of their background. This network now has over 500 members!

My journey at King’s began in 2017 when I joined to study BSc Geography. This three-year course covered a range of topics from Biogeography and Ecology to Natural Hazards and Climatic Variability. During this time, I was lucky enough to undergo fieldwork in Spain during my first year, and Morocco during my second year.

Studying Geography confirmed my love for learning about and tackling environmental issues, more specifically climate change. As such, I then went on to study MSc Climate Change: Environment, Science and Policy at King’s for one year. Although this course was fully online due to Covid, I thoroughly enjoyed the year. In my favourite module, the Fundamentals of Climate Change, I learnt about the negative emission technologies required for us to reach our carbon targets. During my master’s degree, I also undertook an internship with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL London Zoo), where I researched the impacts of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, and the most suitable ways to sustainably manage the ecosystem.

The past four years of studying added to my passion for tackling environmental issues. To that end, I am excited to continue my journey with King’s as a member of the Sustainability Team!

Sustainable education at King’s: what’s new?

What is King’s doing to strengthen sustainable education? Find out about three key projects we are working on at the moment below.

KEATS Sustainability Module

King’s Sustainability has launched an online, open-access, interdisciplinary KEATS sustainability module, aiming to offer everyone, no matter their field, a broad understanding of sustainability.  The module is being put together by a team of incredible students, staff and King’s alumni. This year will still be a pilot, but with the involvement and support of this year’s enrolled students, we hope to officially launch it as a finalised module in the new academic year. This pilot year, we have been releasing a new content section every two weeks.

So far, content on “what is sustainability”, the climate crisis, and sustainable food are live. There is also a section with tips on how to take action and an overview of our favourite sustainability resources. The contents include engaging short videos, text, and padlets to encourage discussions. There is also a short quiz at the end of each section to test participants’ knowledge, and evaluation forms to continue to shape the module according to people’s feedback.

Boost your knowledge of sustainability and help shape sustainable education at King’s by enrolling via this link By signing up, you will test the sustainability module and shape it with your feedback and ideas.   

Sustainability Seminar Series

Alongside this module, we have been hosting a Sustainability Seminar Series which is running throughout the academic year covering some of the biggest topics in sustainability. It offers the entire King’s community an opportunity to learn more about climate science, justice, sustainable agriculture and much more from seminal speakers in the field. Through these monthly 90-minute sessions, participants get the opportunity to fully engage with the subject in the breakout room discussions and Q&As with the speaker. The series aims to be interactive, empowering and motivate everyone to take action!

The first seminar featured climate expert Dr George Adamson on Bringing Climate Change Home. He discussed how we can address climate change at the scale of the everyday by understanding climate change as an interaction between place, personal history, daily life, culture and values. You can watch the lecture hereThe second seminar focused on climate, perception framing, and culture. We were joined by Dr Joachim Aufderheide from the Philosophy Department who helped us think critically about the concept of sustainability, understand how different disciplines tend towards different conceptions of sustainability, and consider moral issues around sustainability. You can watch the recording here 

The next seminar on the 25th of January 2.00-3.30 PM will focus on “Rethinking the Economy for a Sustainable Future”. We will host a very special panel with experts Enrich Sahan (Business & Enterprise Lead at the Doughnut Economics Action Lab), Julia Steinberger (Professor of Ecological Economics at the University of Lausanne), and Vincent Liegey (spokesperson for the French degrowth movement). Save the date to make sure you do not miss out on this special session.  

Sign up for the series here.

SDG Curriculum Mapping

We are also very excited to have embarked on a new journey: mapping out all modules at King’s alongside the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). All students and staff can sign up as volunteers to support this project. It is a great opportunity to find out where environmental and social sustainability currently sits within the curriculum at King’s while building key skills such as auditing, research, and analysing data. 

The first training session led by SOS-UK took place on 13th December, where participants were trained to do a guided audit across programmes and modules and equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to do the mapping. The full volunteer description is available here. 

Register your interest here.

Meet the King’s Sustainability Team

As we approach a new academic year, we wanted to take the time to introduce ourselves – the people behind sustainability at King’s!

Kat Thorne – Director of Sustainability

Kat is the director of Sustainability at King’s and oversees all aspects of embedding sustainability across the college. Kat not only manages the sustainability team but decides on its overarching environmental aims and objectives. She also decides, with input from the wider Estates and Facilities team, on the projects and programs and strategies and actions plans required to deliver on those aims and objectives. She has nurtured the sustainability team to where they are today, ensuring that both staff and students are aware of the importance of their role in ensuring King’s reaches its net Zero Carbon Target by 2025. She held the same position at the University of Greenwich until 2013, helping the university achieve first place in People & Planet’s Green League.  

 

Nicola Hogan – Sustainability Manager (Operations)

Nicola’s main responsibility is ensuring King’s continues to be accredited with the environmental management system ISO14001 and that sustainability is built into the design and construction of any new buildings and refurbishments across the estate.  Nicola also manages several other and varied aspects of environmental operations at King’s ensuring each of the campuses environmental footprint remains a small as practicable.  Prior to joining the team, Nicola worked at Goldsmiths, University of London, the EAUC and the University of Limerick – in both managerial and research roles. 

 

Josh Pullen – Waste to Resource Project Coordinator

Josh is managing the Waste to Resources project which aims to increase the university’s non-hazardous waste recycling rate to 70% and increase the reuse of bulky waste such as furniture.

 

Maria Rabanser – Sustainability Officer

Maria manages the King’s Climate Action Network (King’s CAN) and works on the development of our Climate Action Strategy, as well as on sustainability data and reporting.

She graduated from the Department of Geography at King’s in 2015 and completed an MSc at LSE before joining the  Sustainability Team in September 2016.

 

Ali Hepple – Sustainability Officer

Ali’s main focus is around engagement, organising events, supporting the 500+ staff in the Sustainability Champions programme and students across the university on various projects.

She joined the Sustainability Team in October 2018 after completing her BA in Geography at King’s. During her degree, she supported the University of London’s Reduce the Juice programme, developed an initiative to introduce vegan meals in University of London halls, and supported King’s Food in submitting their first  Sustainable Restaurant Association rating.

 

Julie Allen – Energy Manager

Julie manages King’s Energy, which includes the utilities budgets and contracts, and leads on delivering, updating and monitoring the University’s Carbon Management Plan. She is continually searching for energy-saving opportunities to reduce King’s emissions and overall environmental impact.

 

 

Angeliki Karydi – Energy Management Coordinator

Angeliki joined King’s in December 2019, after completing her MA in Corporate Sustainability at Radboud University. She supports Julie as part of the energy team and is responsible for energy data analysis and reporting.

 

Jone de Roode Jauregui – Climate Action Assistant

Jone supports our work around climate action and the development of the Climate Action Strategy.

She recently completed her BSc in International Management at King’s,  during which time she was actively involved in the King’s CAN, as a sub-group member and team volunteer.

 

Rachel Harrington-Abrams – Climate Action Assistant

Rachel supports our work coordinating climate-related research and education across the university as part of the King’s Climate Action Strategy. 

She is also a PhD student in the Department of Geography, researching the multilateral governance of climate change adaptation decision-making, and works in the Sustainability team alongside her PhD for two days a week. 

 

Emily Read – Engagement Assistant

Emily supports the team with engagement and communications, and leads on the forthcoming sustainability podcast.

She is also completing her PhD in Cell Therapies and Regenerative Medicine at King’s.

 

Bethan Spacey – Engagement Assistant

Bethan supports the team with engagement and communications, and leads on creating digital content.

She is also a 3rd year BA English student at King’s, and former president of King’s VegSoc.

 

Helena Fazeli – Engagement Assistant

Helena supports the team with engagement and communications, and leads on the Sustainability newsletter and blog.

She completed her BA in Geography at King’s in 2020 and recently moved back to London after living in Chios, Greece and volunteering with an education-focused NGO working with asylum-seekers and refugees.

 

 

 

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