King’s was ranked 9th in the world in the 2020 Times Higher Education Impact Ranking. The ranking, which was first released in 2019, measures universities’ societal impact and work towards achieving the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
At King’s, we use the SDGs to illustrate the wide range of topics covered by the term ‘sustainability’, looking beyond only environmental sustainability and including social and economic sustainability. We are a signatory of the SDG Accord, and both the Environmental Sustainability Report and Service Report use the SDGs as a framework to show how our initiatives are making an impact.
The THE Impact Ranking looks at various measures of how universities contribute towards all 17 SDGs. This includes research, education, as well as policies and initiatives run by the university. For each university, the three SDGs it scored highest in are counted towards the ranking, as well as Goal 17, Partnerships for the Goals. For King’s, the SDGs we contributed most towards are:
Goal 17, Partnerships for the Goals
Goal 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities
Goal 3, Good Health and Wellbeing
Goal 16, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
For Goal 17, King’s was ranked 4th in the world, highlighting the impact of our partnerships across the world, as well as our reporting against the SDGs. We have also maintained a high rating for our contribution to Goal 3, ranking 11th in the world. This is a testimony to our medical research, education, as well as initiatives that support the health and wellbeing of our students and staff. Our biggest increase in score this year was for Goal 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities. As well as research and education, sustainable practices and our contribution to arts and heritage have significant impact on our score in this category. This includes encouraging sustainable campus to travel, as well as following sustainability standards for new buildings. Free-to-visit exhibition spaces like the Science Gallery, the Arcade at Bush House or the Exchange at Bush House North East Wing are also highlighted in this part of the ranking.
We are proud to have maintained our top ten position in the ranking this year, particularly as the number of universities taking part increased from 462 to 766. You can find the full THE Impact Rankings 2020 here.
The living wall is a pioneering project designed to filter air at the campus and enhance biodiversity. It contains 73 native and non-native species, and the plants have been carefully curated to provide year-round biodiversity impact. This includes 30 Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) approved flowering species and 18 RHS approved pollinating species, which are proven to support an increased insect population. The wall is also designed to improve air quality, with variations in plant size allowing for air movement to pass through the foliage, which acts as an urban air filter. Plants with hairy, waxy or sticky leaves trap particulates like PM10 and PM2.5 and hold them until they are washed away by rain. The appearance of the wall is likely to change throughout the year, with different plants flowering, and species naturally evolving around the wall.
These are some of the plants you can spot on the wall: lavender, rosemary, holly, strawberry trees, sage, wildflowers, honeysuckle and sword ferns. The living wall is also home to several bird boxes, insect boxes, and even a bat box.
Rainwater from the rooftop will be collected and circulated through the wall to irrigate the plants, and the fyto-textile system that holds the plants allows the water to be distributed evenly through the living wall.
The living wall was funded through the Mayor of London’s Air Quality Business Fund, which has awarded £200,000 to create a Business Low Emissions Neighbourhood in the London Bridge area. The initiative is led by Team London Bridge and Better Bankside, and the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, who own Orchard Lisle, will support the upkeep of the living wall.
On the 14th and 15th May 28 students audited the 35 office and residence sustainability champion teams across King’s.
The student auditors received IEMA approved sustainability training, delivered by a representative from the National Union of Students (NUS) in the morning, before taking a break for a working lunch. In this, students assessed the work the staff champions had done within their workbooks. These workbooks contain various actions covering several sustainable areas, including: waste, energy, health & wellbeing, biodiversity and service to the community.
Snapshot of the Procurement actions within the Silver Workbook
The teams need to complete 18/23 to achieve their Bronze, 23/28 for their Silver and have an up to date Gold project plan covering 1-3 years to obtain their Gold.
After lunch, students paired up and went out to audit two champions teams each. Students went through each completed action with their teams, identifying positive progress the team had made over the year and identifying any areas for improvement to take forward onto the next 19/20 champions year. After the audits, all students returned to the training room to feedback their findings and established which award level their teams should archive for this 2018-19 champions year.
Wonderfully, all 40 office and residence achieved their projected award level achieving a total of:
One student pair commented on the auditing process and champions work, saying: “We were really impressed by the changes they have implemented across the team, and how everyone has shown a true change in behaviour. The team have been able to encourage all employees to adopt a sustainable working environment. They have taken initiative on many occasions and their drive to achieve accreditation for their work is fantastic.” Another student commented that she “was impressed to see how passionate people were! Sustainability Champions helps King’s to go in the right direction and have a significant impact.”
This volunteer opportunity presented an opportunity for students to develop skills which is looks great on a graduate CV, including leadership and analytic skills. In addition, this opportunity allowed students to learn more about Sustainability at King’s and the efforts that go into this behind closed doors.
Student Auditors on 14 May 2019 Training Session
All staff champions will receive their Bronze, Silver or Gold sustainability awards at the annual Sustainability Award celebration in July. Staff will be joined in the company of the student auditors and their student champion assistants, as well as supporting sustainable groups and societies who have all helped to make King’s more sustainable over the past year.
2017-18 Sustainability Champions at the Award Ceremony last summer (2018)
Over a month ago King’s Venues met Buses 4 Homeless CIC at The HBAA annual dinner. Dan Atkins touched our hearts with his passion on his mission to provide a low cost holistic solution to homelessness by creating beds, providing food and learning in decommissioned buses. The Buses4Homeless mission is to provide 14,600 nights sleep a year, in the warmth of the converted double decker buses.
The buses will be refurbished to create sleeping , dining and learning areas. (Image: Buses4homeless website)
As part of the King’s Service Strategy, all King’s Staff get a day off dedicated to Service. As part of this, King’s Venues team took on the task to help Buses4Homeless to transform four buses donated by Stagecoach, which were left stationary in bus depots without use for several years, and would have eventually been scrapped.
The Buses4homeless mission is to help those affected overcome the issues which led to them being homeless. The aim is to help develop skills and get into apprenticeships and training and eventually into work. The buses will take 40 people at a time, helping build stability and a sense of community.
Strategy of Buses4homeless (Image: Buses4homelss website)
King’s Venues & Food team helping at Buses4homeless!
It was a great day of service with the team delivering 4 volunteering days to the charity. For more information about Buses4Homeless, please take a look on their website http://buses4homeless.org.
Each year, we hold Sustainability Week to raise awareness and educate King’s staff and students about sustainability at King’s. Sustainability Week revolves around ‘#MakeADifference’. The Sustainability Team, alongside student societies and staff Sustainability Champions, put on events with the aim to educate on various areas of sustainability (social, environmental and economic), give back to society and most of all – have fun!
Here is a summary of the week…
Sustainability Pop up: This Sustainability Week we hosted an interactive stall across King’s campuses. We played lots of sustainability related games – we quizzed you on how many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs you could remember and played the washing line game, where staff & students got the chance to win a Keep Cup and a free tea/coffee if they correctly guessed how long it took seven everyday items to degrade (from tea bags, to tin cans (hint: they rust!) to plastic bags). It was great to talk with staff & students about what interests you most within sustainability and we got the chance to update staff & students on some of the sustainability projects happening at King’s – for example, the Don’t Be Trashy project and behaviour change techniques aimed to reduce waste and increase recycling rates in King’s halls of residences.
King’s VegFest: Studies show that a veganism can reduce the environmental impact that your diet has, and reducing the amount of meat and dairy we consume can positively affect climate change. We hosted this event in collaboration with the King’s Vegetarian and Vegan society. There were lots of free samples from vegan producers, including vegan cheese (thank you Tyne Chease), chocolate (thanks to Raw Halo) snacks (thank you to Purl Pops, Nim’s Fruit Crisps and Freya’s Fruit Bars), Dairy Alternatives (thank you KoKo, Rebel Mylk and to a King’s Alumni own brand: Edenera!). Students and staff also brought delicious dishes for everyone to try, we discussed the environmental impact of the food we eat and general sustainability passions!
Dr Bike: Cycling is not only an environmentally sustainable form of transportation, but one that is socially sustainable due to the value exercise has on physical health and overall well-being.
We want to encourage cycling in London and help make it as easy as possible for our staff and students. Therefore, we held four Dr Bike sessions across the King’s campuses. These Dr Bike sessions provided free bike checks to students and staff. Mechanics led the session and checked brakes, gears and chains, changed bike pads and gave advice and accurate quotes for whatever they couldn’t fix. There are many Dr Bike sessions happening across London every day, organised through Cycle Confident. To keep up to date with the latest session near you, follow Cycle Confident updates here.
Film Screening: A Northern Soul: Sustainability often gets bundled into being thought of as purely environmental, with the social and economic sides to it often neglected. This year, for our final event of the week, we chose a film which demonstrated the importance of these two, often forgotten, pillars of sustainability.A Northern Soulis a documentary set in Hull, which follows one man, Steve, a warehouse worker on his journey through Hull in 2017 during its crowing year as the ‘UK City of Culture‘. We see Steve chase his passion of bringing hip-hop to disadvantaged kids across the city, through his Beats Bus. The film raises uncomfortable truths about inequality in the UK, but does so while demonstrating the strength and charm of Hull’s residents in the face of this inequality. The film is available on BFI player.
GoodGym Run:King’s GoodGym is a community of runners that combines getting fit with doing good. For this session the runners went to Euston Food Bank. GoodGym volunteers helped to sort out the dry donations of cereal, biscuits and chocolate into sell by date to help ensure no food loss and effective allocation of items according to date. King’s GoodGym is a great way to get fit and to help the local community. To read more on GoodGym click here.
Gardening at the Maughan: The Library Services Sustainability Champions ran the gardening session at the Maughan to help nurture the 200+ trees which were planted in the garden at the start of December 2018, as part of National Tree Week and broader City of London Environment and Clean Air Strategies . Sustainability Week volunteers watered all the trees and re-taped them to ensure their visibility, helped to replant some of the crab apple trees and gave the garden a quick litter pick – all in all, the garden got a good bit of T(ree)LC.
Ethical Beauty Talk: Stephanie Green from the Modern Language Centre spoke about how sustainable shea butter can empower women. Speaking from her experience living and working in Ghana she told the story behind the TAMA brand, made from natural shea butter. Lots of the beautiful vegan friendly soaps, creams and lotions were also available for sale at the session!
Zero- Waste Beauty Workshop: 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean every year. The UN has stated that our use of plastic is creating a ‘planetary crisis’, and by 2050, the oceans will carry more plastic than fish. Read more here.
During the week, we held two zero-waste workshop sessions, co-hosted with the King’s Beauty Society. In these sessions, students learnt more about the global plastic-problem and the individual steps we all can do to make zero-waste living that little bit more achievable. Students got to make their own zero-waste coffee body scrub (using King’s Food own used coffee grounds – which would have otherwise gone to Anaerobic Digestion), lemon lip scrub and peppermint toothpaste!
Due to the demand, The Sustainability Team plan to host more events like this throughout the year. In the meantime, a post with the zero-waste beauty recipes will follow on the blog soon.
Thank you to everyone who helped organise and took part in Sustainability Week 2019! We love meeting you all and hearing your feedback, ideas and passions. You showed King’s really can #MakeADifference!
Committed to the idea of a socially responsible university?
Applications are invited for the role of Social Responsibility Audit Assistant in the ‘European Students Sustainability Auditing’ Project (ESSA).
We are recruiting for a diverse group of six students from King’s College London to participate in the project between February and March. The Social Responsibility Audit Assistant role is open to all current King’s students who have an interest in social responsibility and sustainability.
The successful students will complete two days of training in February 2019 in Edinburgh and will act as host students for an institutional social responsibility audit of King’s which will be undertaken by students from Edinburgh, Porto and Kaunas University’s from the 11th March until 15th March in London.
It is important that we have a diverse range of skills and academic knowledge, we therefore endeavor to select our team from a range of backgrounds and academic degree programmes. We encourage applications from protected characteristics for this role and students from widening participation backgrounds specifically.
Please note that we also have resources in place to ensure that support is available to students who may have any kind of additional support needs and/or face financial barriers to participation in this kind of initiative.
How to apply
To apply for this opportunity please email an expression of interest to email@example.com. This should be no longer than 2 sides of A4 and should highlight: your interest in the project, how you fulfill the person specification, what you hope to learn from being involved in the project, and confirm your availability for the dates indicated in time commitment.
The deadline for applications is Monday 14th January 2019 at 9am. For successful applicants there will be an informal group interview/ information session on Friday 18th of January from 12pm-2pm.
If you are unable to make this group interview due to exam or other commitments, please let us know in your application.
The ‘European Students Sustainability Auditing’ Project is a European-Union (EU) funded pilot project that aims to learn more about social responsibility and sustainability in universities across Europe.
Social Responsibility Audit Assistants will play a key role in the project by hosting audit students and helping bring together the findings from the audit to report to the Service Committee, a senior University governance group.
Participating students will have the opportunity to gain new skills, knowledge and work experience by undertaking this role. Student auditors will receive training to enable participation in the audits, aiding their own understanding and developing their skills, as well as contributing to the advancement of social responsibility and sustainability in European Higher Education. Participation in this can also be reflected in your Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR).
The role is open to all students who have an interest in social responsibility and sustainability. The ideal candidate will possess the following skills and knowledge.
Good communication skills, both verbal and written, and confidence in face-to-face engagement.
Confidence to work independently and in a team and able to assist fellow team members to identify creative solutions to problems.
Good analytical and research skills
Excellent time management and leadership skills
Some knowledge of the workings of universities and of social responsibility and sustainability issues and initiatives.
Social Responsibility Audit Assistants will attend two days of training in Edinburgh in February on 7th and 8th of February and participate in an audit of King’s College London on week commencing 11th of March until 15th of March in London. All Audit Assistants will be expected to write a short blog piece, reflecting on their experience in the project. The total time commitment is approximately 8 days.
All approved accommodation, subsistence and travel costs incurred by the student Audit Assistants through the role will be covered by the project, at the relevant official EU rates.
Skills and experience gained
Successful students applying for the role will gain the following skills and experience.
Experience of working on an international project in a supported professional environment
Insight into effective social responsibility and sustainability education
Experience of communicating using a variety of different means
Knowledge and understanding of the auditing process
Ability to make evidence-based judgements
Experience in advanced level reporting
Ability to support and encourage others to perform
Partners in the project, which is led by the UK’s National Union of Students, include the European Students Union, the University of Porto and its students’ association, Kaunas University of Technology and its students’ association and the University of Edinburgh and its students’ association.
Hello from Maria from the King’s Sustainability team! For today’s blog, I wanted to share an exciting event I attended over the last three days.
This week, I attended the Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps Training. The three day event is organised by the Climate Reality Project, founded by former US Vice President Al Gore. Its aim is to train people from all over the world to be leaders in the fight against climate change, and the training events were featured in 2017’s ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power’.
In Berlin, over 600 new Climate Reality Leaders were trained over three days. The days included a number of presentations and panel debates on climate change and issues around it. As the first day of the training coincided with the first meeting of the German Coal Commission, coal was one of the key themes during the event. A panel on how Germany – and the rest of Europe – can leave coal behind in favour of renewables included an emotional account from a citizen whose village is due to make way for an expanding coal mine. You can read more about Germany’s disappearing villages here. Despite the need for Europe to move away from coal, another panel acknowledged the challenges countries relying on coal for energy face in their transition. Many European countries will need to look at how they can turn their economy around while ensuring former coal industry workers are ready to move into jobs in other industries.
One highlight of the training was to see Al Gore present his now famous slide deck on the climate crisis and its solutions. For over two hours, he explained the science behind climate change, the impact it has on the world right now – and will likely have in the future – and the solutions that already exist. While countless images of environmental destruction and disasters around the world may make it seem like there is no hope, recent developments in renewable energy show that it is not too late to change our path. For example, in June 2017 Scotland sourced 100% of its electricity from wind power for a whole month, and countries around the world are scaling up their solar capacity. In the UK, countless local authorities have pledged to go 100% renewable in the future. Hope was a defining theme of the training, with presenters and panellists reminding the trainees that it is possible to tackle the climate crisis.
A particularly inspiring moment showing changing attitudes was during a Q&A session on the climate crisis presentation. When the audience was asked to raise their hand if they do not own a car, the majority of the room raised their hand. You can see a picture of this moment here.
As a now newly trained Climate Reality Leader, I am excited to go out and campaign on climate change. Climate Reality Leaders are asked to complete Acts of Leadership following their training, which can include anything from giving a presentation to writing a letter to their elected representatives. The Leadership Corps is also a thriving community, with regional and local chapters organising meetings, and assisting and mentoring one another to tackle climate change together. This community element was also central to the three days of training, with each of us encouraged to meet and connect with fellow Climate Reality Leaders from around the world. It was inspiring to see so many people from different industries and all ages coming together to solve one big challenge!
If this has inspired you to become a Climate Reality Leader yourself, you can follow Climate Reality on Facebook and Twitter to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming trainings. The next one is due to take place in Los Angeles in August, with applications open now.
The conference started with a keynote speech by Amanda MacKenzie OBE, who highlighted the importance of getting everyone involved. When the SDGs were unveiled, she ran a campaign to get word about them out there. One of the key messages of this was the importance of using simple language everyone understands. This is why she refers to the goals as Global Goals rather than SDGs, claiming the term SDGs “sounds like something you would see your doctor about”. By calling them the Global Goals and making them accessible, we should be able to take millions of small, simple actions, together adding up to significant change.
Prior to the event, key partners of the UKSSD sent an open letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, asking what the government is doing, and will do, to work towards the SDGs. Lord Bates, Minister of State for the Department for International Development, took to the stage to respond on behalf of the government. He claimed that with Brexit, the SDGs can provide an important framework for the UK to face outwards again.
One aspect that was highlighted several times throughout the day was that the SDGs do not only apply to the developing world. Dr Graham Long from the University of Newcastle did extensive research on how the UK is doing compared to the goals – with the conclusion that there is work to be done within the UK too. For example, many see Goal 1 (No poverty) as only applying to the developing world. However, Dr Long showed that over 15% of households live under what is considered the poverty line in the UK. Similarly Goal 2 (Zero hunger) is not only about the absence of hunger – it is also about the presence of good nutrition.
So how can we achieve the goals and targets associated with them?
Dr Jake Reynolds presenting his plan to ‘rewire’ the economy
According to Dr Jake Reynolds from CISL, it is all about ‘rewiring’ the economy. At the moment, sustainable businesses face many challenges, and one could argue that the game is tilted against them. We need to change this to a system where sustainable businesses have the advantage. Dr Reynolds presented his 10-task plan to make this happen, calling to the government, business and the financial sector to implement changes.
Talking about how businesses can have an impact and implement changes, another session focussed on leadership within organisations. While we often talk about wanting change to happen, few of us make changes themselves, and even fewer are ready to lead change.
In the afternoon, John Elkington chaired a panel discussing ‘Transforming lives’. One main point from the discussion was the importance of having a positive message. Mike Barry from Marks & Spencer’s Plan A said that to achieve the SDGs, we need to get people excited about them. Trewin Restorick from Hubbub reinforced this, sharing some of the positive and fun campaigns the charity Hubbub has run over the last year. As they are our next-door neighbours at Somerset House, you might have noticed us sharing some of their great ideas (including #BrightFriday and the Square Mile Challenge we will be taking part in). Another idea that was mentioned during this panel debate was that of Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth – if you have followed our Sustainability Week, you might have heard her speak at our successful Overpopulation vs Overconsumption debate.
Overall, the conference gave attending businesses a good insight into why the SDGs matter, both at home and abroad, as well as how they can support them by promoting them in their organisation. As was repeated many times during the conference, we need everyone involved if we want to stand a chance at achieving the SDGs – this includes government, business, and every single one of us.
Last week saw King’s College London host members of the Global Consortium for Sustainability Outcomes (GCSO).
The GCSO is an organisation made up of 11 world-leading universities, including King’s, aiming to create solutions to global sustainability problems through research, development and capacity building. Combatting climate change and working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals requires innovative new solutions, and universities are often where these solutions are made – by academics and students alike. While each university might be able to drive change locally on its own, coming together to simultaneously implement solutions across the world can take these ideas to the next level.
The GCSO Network of universities (Source: GCSO website)
King’s is a founding member of the GCSO and represented through Chris Mottershead, Vice Principal (Research and Innovation) and member of the College Council. This demonstrates the University’s commitment to sustainability, not only through improvement of day-to-day operations, but also at a senior strategic level.
Within the GCSO, several topic groups were set up to develop projects. The group that met at King’s last week is aimed at sustainability solutions related to energy, water and waste, that can be scaled from university campuses to the wider urban and rural environments. Representatives of the following universities were present:
The aim of the three-day workshop was to agree on their first joint project. With each of the universities presenting their own project proposal, the workshop showed the variety of innovative sustainability solutions discussed around the globe.
The attendees of the GCSO workshop
Impressed with the quality of all proposals, the attendees of the workshop decided to combine aspects of each to develop a new, joint project – a toolkit to transform university campuses into ‘living labs’. In these living labs, academics, communities and other stakeholders come together to test new ideas and technologies. If the test proves to be successful, it can be replicated elsewhere. Any changes within the ‘living lab’ campuses will be monitored and evaluated using quantitative and qualitative measures developed at the GCSO institutions. This way, universities can ensure that operations and users of buildings do not experience any negative impacts as a result of the “experiment”.
King’s has agreed to be one of several test sites for the first GCSO project, exploring energy-savings around hot water. If successful, this project could save 3-4% of the university’s annual CO₂ emissions, bringing King’s closer to its 43% reduction by 2020 target. Details on what exactly students and staff can expect from the project will be announced at a later stage, so look out for further information!
The GCSO links to SDG 11, 12 and 17
With the first one-year pilot project due to kick off in the next few months, we are hoping that this global collaboration will continue to deliver innovative solutions over the coming years. The workshop saw so many exciting proposals to improve sustainability, it is without doubt that this first GCSO project will not remain the only one.
The GCSO projects links to UN Sustainable Development Goals 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). More on the Sustainable Development Goals here.
Welcome to the blog of the King's Sustainability team! Our aim is to keep you informed about sustainability at King's including events and opportunities, as well as to inspire discussion and action on and around Campus. Please join the conversation!