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08 August 2019

King's Sustainability Champions

The King’s community drive forward environmental sustainability

Collection of green bottles.

King’s aims to reduce its harmful effects on the environment and have a highly positive social impact by delivering against the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To achieve this, we are embedding sustainability into our research, our education and how the university operates.

Through promoting environmental management and increasing awareness of environmental responsibilities among staff and students, King’s delivers on its commitment to serve society.

One of the main ways in which King’s is entrenching sustainability into university life is through the Sustainability Champions programme. It brings together staff across departments and student residences to help them find creative ways to embed sustainability into their operations.

The Sustainability Champions programme has grown every year since it began in 2014. It currently engages over 300 members of staff and 62 teams across laboratories, offices and four of the university’s student residences.

Now in its fifth year, the programme is aligned to the national NUS Green Impact scheme, which supports environmentally and socially sustainable practice in universities.

Throughout the year, the champions work through the Green Impact Workbook and progress through the Bronze, Silver and Gold levels. This year, we have 28 Gold, 9 Silver and 25 Bronze teams.

We have really enjoyed our first year as Sustainability Champions. It’s great that the programme encompasses lots of different elements: not only focusing on recycling and saving energy, but also well-being and community. It means that you can embed the idea of sustainability into every aspect of life at university, making it second-nature. Our students have been really keen to get involved, as have our colleagues, and now that we are Bronze award winners, we can’t wait to get started on Silver!

Darren Munn and Rebecca Dean, Literature & Languages Sustainability Champions team
Darren Munn and Rebecca Dean at the 2019 Sustainability Awards.
Darren Munn and Rebecca Dean at the 2019 Sustainability Awards.

The King’s Libraries Sustainability Champions have implemented a range of initiatives that promote both sustainability and wellbeing amongst our staff and student communities. They created an engaging sustainability induction video for all new staff and hold at least one sustainability training session each year; implemented a clean air room in the Maughan Library; held yoga, Tai Chi and crafts sessions to boost wellbeing among staff and students; and planted 202 trees at the Maughan Library garden as part of the Mayor of London’s Mass Tree Planting Event in December 2018.

The King’s Libraries team received a Highly Commended award at the 2018 Green Gown Awards, which recognises outstanding sustainability initiatives in the UK’s universities and colleges.

Many of King’s students support the Sustainability Champions programme, for example by auditing the office and residence teams ahead of the annual Sustainability Awards. Participating students are provided with ongoing training and development opportunities.

This year, for the first time, teams had the chance to request a student sustainability assistant who was trained and worked with King’s staff on the sustainability agenda in their department. For instance, the Fundraising & Supporter Development team’s student assistants helped at their annual swap shop and transferred left-over garments to a local charity shop.

I was impressed to see how passionate people were! Sustainability Champions help King’s to go in the right direction and have a significant impact.

Marjana, BA European Studies and student volunteer auditor
One of the King's residences.
One of the King's residences.

The Sustainability Champions programme is crucial to helping King’s meet the following sustainability targets:

  • Reduce scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 43 per cent by 2020 (based on 2005–06 baseline).
  • Achieve net zero carbon by 2025.
  • Achieve 65 per cent recycling rate for office and residential waste.
  • Maintain zero non-hazardous waste to landfill.
  • Maintain Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) accreditation and achieve two stars (out of three) in the Food Made Good Sustainability Rating in the next year.
  • Support the delivery of the Biodiversity Action Plan.

Find out more about sustainability at King’s in the university’s Environmental sustainability report 2017-18 and the Service annual report 2018-19.