Students Staff

26 April 2018

Meet our Sustainability and Grounds section

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 4:50 pm

We spoke to our Sustainability and Grounds section to find out more about them and their work at Essex.

You’re a new team aren’t you? How many of you are there?

Our Sustainability and Grounds team

Our Sustainability and Grounds team

Yes, we’re a shiny new section which has brought together a number of teams that now, broadly, has a focus of environment and energy across our three campuses. We are collectively responsible for grounds, transport, carbon reduction and sustainability engagement, creating a dedicated focus on improving the experience of staff and students at the University.

The team is packed with names you probably already know: Rob Davey (Head of Sustainability and Grounds), Marcus Clayton (Grounds Manager), Charlotte Humphries (Transport Policy Manager), Dan Dempsey (Carbon Change Advisor), Daisy Malt (Sustainability Engagement Officer), plus of course the Grounds team. We also currently have an intern, former Essex student Charles Ballardini. In total there are 16 of us.

Why have you all been brought together?

The creation of a dedicated Sustainability and Grounds section was part of a wider restructure in Estates and Campus Services, showing a clear commitment to the importance of sustainable development in its strategic vision. The University has made a commitment to reduce its carbon emissions by 43% against a 2005 baseline by 2020, and while this is a substantial challenge, it creates so many opportunities to try new things and make the University more efficient. Beyond this, as an educational institution teaching the leaders of the future, we have a responsibility to inform students of the importance of valuing our environment, and taking that knowledge into their careers. We have big plans and we are so excited about the opportunities we have to make our University a leader in Sustainability.

What are your  main responsibilities? Can you tell us a little bit more about each of your roles?

Our mission is to make our campuses fantastic places to study, work and live. With a variety of responsibilities we have a wide remit overall, but our focus is to consider environmental impacts and social responsibility at all levels – from the strategic development and management of our 230 acres of diverse, historic parkland, to encouraging everyone travelling to our campuses to do so in the most sustainable way. Some things go on behind the scenes, while others are more about engagement and raising awareness. For example, last year the Grounds team installed new equipment to wash down machinery that recycles water, saving us around 100,000 litres of water per year. Dan has overseen lighting upgrades in academic areas and South Courts accommodation which will result in a reduction of 600 tonnes in CO2 emissions, and cut energy costs by £120,000 – every year. Meanwhile, Daisy manages the Green Impact programme which is going from strength to strength.  At the moment, staff in 37 teams are busy completing their actions to embed sustainability in their operations.

Is there anything we can be doing to make your jobs easier?

Respect and care for your surroundings. The Sustainability and Grounds teams’ focus is to improve our environment for everyone and to make sustainability the mainstream. Simple things like putting litter and recycling in the correct bins, switching off unused equipment and travelling sustainably are the small actions that add up to make a significant impact.

Also, just talk to us! Not sure what a carbon footprint is? Had an idea? If you have any questions, thoughts or comments, we’d love nothing more than to hear from you. We will be increasingly visible on campus and our mission is to empower everyone to become more aware of how they can reduce their impact on our environment.

Tell me something funny or unusual about your team?

The Grounds team is an adventurous bunch, and between them they have visited over 50 countries. Continuing the global theme, Dan speaks Japanese, Charles has lived in New Zealand and Daisy has a worryingly large collection of snow globes from most of the countries she’s visited!

What big projects do you have coming up?

The Grounds team are embarking on revamping more areas around South Courts to make them more inviting. They are also working on exciting improvements to the entrances at our Colchester campus. We have another project that is just getting under way assessing opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint and introduce new energy metering systems. Plus, we are developing transport measures to improve sustainable travel options for everyone.

What projects are you all most proud of?

Winning the Green Flag Award was a huge triumph for the Grounds team, with the maintenance of Wivenhoe Park being praised as one of the best sites for environmental practice that the judges had seen.

We are also incredibly proud of all the teams participating in the Green Impact programme. This has gone from strength to strength each year, and has developed a community of socially responsible colleagues who are able to identify ways to run their offices with sustainability in mind.

What is your one tip for others working at the University?

If you’re buying a takeaway hot drink on campus, take your own coffee cup to save 10p, and more importantly, you’re helping to reduce waste.

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