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.
[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 http://www.green-impact.org.uk/green-impact-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.