How to make a Green Impact!

Laurence Menhinick learns how to conduct a green audit, and finds that virtue is its own reward.

Having read about volunteering to audit Manchester Metropolitan Uni, I decided to take the (free) training offered by the Green Impact team last week. I was so pleased that I came back for more!

Since 2006, the NUS has taken the lead in greening student unions and universities, in keeping with students’ own environmental concerns and demands to make a “difference from within”. After a pilot at Bristol University, the Green Impact accreditation programme was opened to UK universities; its aim to help student unions to green not only their department and universities, but also their communities through student training and engagement. This year, 1540 teams from 46 universities (totalling 45000 staff) are competing to be awarded Green Impact Bronze, Silver or Gold awards based on a range of criteria set to achieve high environmental standards. These relate not only to improving environmental habits about printing, travel, heating, air conditioning, food and drink, recycling, energy use but also to raising awareness by actively promoting best behaviour, reviewing impact and encouraging change.

As a volunteer auditor, you were certainly given a lot to do! There was training in the morning and auditing all afternoon. The 3 ½ hours training session itself included an introduction to the scheme, an explanation of the standards and criteria we would be auditing, and very comprehensive and relevant techniques in both auditing and decision making. After familiarisation with the standards we were off in pairs to audit one to two departments all over the campus before coming back to base and report.

Charlotte Bonner, the Green Impact Development Manager,trained the 80 volunteers who audited the 67 departments taking part at MMU this year, and her enthusiasm for the visible efforts the teams and staff have made was visible throughout. I for one (having done 3 audits) was also very impressed with the level of interest and commitment from the teams, clearly there was a lot of collective work done to reach good standards. (Award ceremony to follow late April)

One of the MMU Green Impact Coordinators, Robert Croll, was also helping with the training and proceedings. He commented to me that this programme is “the first MMU staff and student behaviour change programme but there are also about 20 environmental projects throughout the MMU”. He mentioned amongst others iCYCLE , the Met Munch student food network and the significant involvement in the new Business School building and Birley Fields Campus. (1)

The opportunities for expansion for the scheme are endless, especially within the community and local authorities. Indeed things are already moving on with the UH Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, and the announcement last month that Manchester City Council will be running a pilot.

So altogether this was a brilliant opportunity to pick up new skills, to witness real positive change and to learn about a worthwhile programme to support.

Laurence Menhinick
[Who wants to declare that she got a free lunch for her trouble. Which is more than those slave-driver editors at MCFly ever give her!]

List of GI participants

1. If any Hulme residents want to write us an article about why the Birley Fields Campus is a Bad Thing, they are very welcome! We will get a react quote from MMU, and voila, indepth investigative reporting at yer service. Eds.

About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
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3 Responses to How to make a Green Impact!

  1. What exactly are you monitoring? I constantly see lights on in the All-Saints campus and new Business School. This is late at night and early hours, even over the Christmas period when the buildings are shut. In fact the Business School has it lights on 24/7, even though the building is not open yet. Then there is Grovernor Square park, which has it’s lights on all night, which is not healthy for the little biodiversity that exists in it. I constantly see lights illuminated, when there is no requirement for them. I simple way on cutting down on energy consumption and carbon footprint, is to ‘switch off’ the lights when they are not required.

    • Laurence Menhinick says:

      Hello there,
      You are absolutely right that these are some of the issues that need tackling. The Green Impact scheme is designed to help teams act at their level ( within their own offices and department) and gradually the cumulative effort will pay off. Looking at the MMU structure I counted 168 departments, and there are many sub-divisions within those into small teams and groups. The scheme was taken up by 67 teams, so there are many more to entice until behaviour change becomes second-nature and both procurement and services systems are also in the loop.
      The criteria were fairly specific and we were to check compliance + evidence for various branches of environmental points including safe disposal, renewability, re-usability, catering, switch-off plans etc.
      May I also point out that there may also be regulations relating to safety and public area lighting at night ( I remember something similar in corridors in our block of flats) which may result in light being left on.

      • Hi Laurence, thank you for your reply. As for trying to fob things off as being Health & Safety related, it is a poor excuse. The park for instance, is closed off to the public at night. The Business school is lit-up inside for no reason, whilst the public domain was also lit up was fenced even when it was fenced off from the public. In this day and age, after all the refits and new build, you would of thought they would employ sensors for their lighting. I found this was the case at Bath University even in the student accommodation, even though it is old stock. By the way, I am not having a go at you, I just find the MMU’s ‘green policies’, to be no more than ‘greenwash’. Which seriously worries me, concerning their plans for Birley Fields.

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