A year of sustainability at the RAU

The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) has built on its award-winning sustainability programme with a year of exciting initiatives to engage students and staff across the University community.

From the very beginning of this academic year (September 2016), the sustainability message was heard. During Welcome Week, new students attended a talk by the Environmental Officer to find out about programmes such as Green Impact and the Environmental Project Bank. All students living on campus were also given a reusable bamboo coffee cup, to support the Stop the 100 Billion campaign and reduce the number of paper cups going to landfill.

Throughout the year, students from across the University took part in Student Switch Off and Green Impact – saving energy in halls of residence and helping staff become more sustainable. Three students were trained as Student Switch Off ambassadors, and used behaviour change models to encourage their flatmates to save energy. Congratulations to Garden House who made the largest savings and won a Domino’s Pizza party at the end of the year. 10 student project assistants and auditors worked with staff departments through the NUS Green Impact scheme, encouraging over 190 environmental actions to take place across the University.

The RAU celebrated low carbon and healthy travel during the sustainable travel week in November. Staff and students could test drive a new Nissan Leaf to experience electric vehicles, and an electric charging point was installed. Dr Bike provided free bike servicing to encourage people to use their bikes to commute to campus, and the staff cycle to work scheme showcased the salary sacrifice bike scheme.

The student Environmental Society relaunched this year and now has over 100 members. They worked with Cirencester and District Beekeepers, who provided theoretical and practical training for prospective student bee keepers; planted wild flowers on campus; and partnered with Chesterton Primary School on biodiversity projects. Funds were available from the University to purchase wildflower seeds and bat and bird boxes.

Students were successful in the NUS Student Eats project to set up the first RAU Campus Market, showcasing local and sustainable food, as well as supporting student and alumni enterprises. See them interviewed in this video produced by the soil association: https://youtu.be/Fnf9fRqq93s 

Students also worked closely with the RAU sustainability team, with SU representatives attending the Sustainability Advisory Group to discuss the student perspective of the sustainability strategy monitoring and development.

Pearl Costello, Environmental Officer at the RAU said: “It has been brilliant to get so many students involved with sustainability this year and help them realise some amazing projects. I’m looking forward to building on this further with our ‘Be the Change’ campaign next year.”

Find out more about sustainability at the RAU.