While there is always lots of work going on behind the scenes to embed sustainability by improving our infrastructure and facilities, reducing our environmental impact and reaching net zero will only happen if every member of our community comes on this journey with us. You (yes, you!) are an integral part of the change needed at Essex to make sure our university flourishes while being stewards of the environment. As part of our Sustainability Sub-Strategy consultation, you had lots of suggestions for ways the university community could be involved in sustainability. We have been taking on board your feedback and wanted to update you with information on what’s available and what we have planned.
You said: You wanted more engagement with our whole community.
We offer: We engage with staff and students in a variety of ways. We post regular updates in Essex Weekly, Essex spirit, on our social media pages, and on the digital screens around campus. Every year we also run the Sustainable Essex Awards where teams work towards sustainable actions.
We’re working on: We’ll be developing opportunities for everyone to share their ideas through feedback forums, embedding sustainability messages into more existing channels, publishing regular reports on our progress and providing more information on the actions you can take, and why they are important. We’ll also be refreshing the Sustainable Essex programme to create more opportunities to participate for students.
You said: You wanted incentives for staff and students to be more sustainable.
We offer: We have several incentives for people to choose more sustainable options. Essex Food and SU food outlets offer money off if you bring in a reusable cup for your hot drink. Our Travel team offer an incentive to staff who regularly cycle to campus, and Dr Bike offers free cycle safety checks (Bicycle M-Check) and adjustments at our Colchester Campus. The team also provides servicing, repairs and affordable second-hand bikes. Take a look at all of our sustainability initiatives.
We’re working on: We’re exploring how we can support student and staff-led sustainability projects on campus, recognising sustainability-focused research and projects, and we’re working with the SU to identify more extra-curricular activities to increase people’s sustainability knowledge and experience.
You said: You wanted more flexible and remote working options.
We offer: This fits into our wider work to adapt the ways we work as we come out of the pandemic, and build on what has been learned. We expect hybrid working to become part of our ‘new normal’; flexible working policies have been updated and a number of teams are involved in the development of the Smart Working at Essex (SWAE) project.
We’re working on: The development of flexible working spaces that can be used for multiple purposes. More updates on SWAE will come from People and Culture.
You said: Sustainability should be embedded into all decisions
We offer: The Sustainability Sub-Strategy (SSS) was developed in conjunction with decision-makers and influencers from across the University to ensure that sustainability would be embedded throughout the organisation. There is still much progress to be made, but the SSS is a crucial step in setting out our ambitions and how we will achieve them. Environmental and sustainability considerations are increasingly being required in decision-making, and training opportunities will be promoted through HR Organiser.
We’re working on: We are developing advice to help colleagues make informed decisions in their own work and are always happy to discuss issues with you on an ad-hoc basis. The SSS will help us to facilitate discussions around sustainability, embed environmentally-efficient thinking and create a sustainably-informed community. Sustainable decisions take many forms, with some more complex than others – if you need advice the sustainability team are always here to help, just email email@example.com.
Our commitment to change
We’re proud of our work to involve our community in helping us to reach our net zero goal. We know that there is always more to do, and we are always exploring different opportunities. We are on a journey of improvement and development; there are many challenges ahead, but also a lot of exciting opportunities. To learn more about our ambitions and progress, visit our sustainability webpages. We will be providing updates on our response to your feedback to the Sustainability Sub-Strategy consultation in a series of blogs – please check back regularly to learn more.