University and LUSU join forces to secure future of Green Lancaster
The University and LUSU have announced a strengthening of ties on Green Lancaster, with the former playing a much greater role in terms of organisation and publicity. The announcement follows the successful Green Lancaster Week campaign, which is hoped will be used as a “springboard” for future action on sustainability in the future.
In Week 5, a Green Lancaster working group was formed jointly between the University and the Union, led by the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sharon Huttly. The group aims to identify campaigns and other methods to raise awareness of green initiatives undertaken by students and staff on campus.
The first such campaign was Green Lancaster Week, which took place during Week 9, Lent Term, with a different sustainability-related event taking place each day of the week. These included providing a free breakfast to students at the Lancaster University Sports Centre, as well as a celebratory lunch at the campus ecohub on Friday Week 9. While there was disappointment about the weather during the Week, the initiative was successful enough to spark ideas for more campaigns, with a 12-month plan in place and a large event towards the end of Summer Term already mooted.
The stronger partnership between LUSU and the University is considered mutually beneficial to both parties, with the University able to expand the Green Lancaster brand to encompass all of its environment and energy initiatives. Green Lancaster is currently most closely associated with the sustainable food-growing initiative Edible Campus and the Exodus Project, which aims to reuse students’ unwanted items by giving them to charities. The University aims to expand the Green Lancaster umbrella beyond this core remit, with a particular emphasis on behavioural change among students and staff at Lancaster.
For their part, LUSU hopes that by having greater support from the University they will be able to secure Green Lancaster’s future. At the end of July, the National Union of Students (NUS) will end its funding for the programme, which had hitherto been a key lifeline for the Edible Campus project. It is therefore hoped that a stronger University presence in Green Lancaster will help maintain – or even improve – the momentum behind such initiatives.
Louisa Duff, the Marketing & Communications Manager of the University’s Facilities division, told SCAN that the aim of the revitalised partnership was to increase awareness of all of Lancaster’s sustainability projects. “I’m conscious that awareness of the sustainability work that we do could be improved – among staff, students and visitors,” Duff said. “If you ask the question ‘what are we doing about sustainability?’ to people at Lancaster University they will say, ‘oh, we’ve got a wind turbine!’ and that’s about it. All the other work that is happening is below the radar – it’s not getting the exposure that it needs.”
The lack of awareness among students and staff at Lancaster, Duff said, is reinforced by recent surveys conducted by the Facilities division. “We did some student carousels a few weeks ago, and I asked them about their awareness of sustainability and whether they actually cared about it (most of them said yes, others were a little impartial),” Duff told SCAN. “The majority of them recognised Green Lancaster, but they were a little unsure of what it was and how they could get involved.
“I think it’s mainly about building it into people’s everyday lives and behaviours– it doesn’t have to be extra work.”
LUSU’s Green Lancaster Coordinator, Darren Axe, said that the University’s recent commitment to Green Lancaster shows that sustainability issues are now getting the attention they deserve on campus. “My feeling on this is that sustainability, as an entity at the university, is vitally important as a cross-cutting agenda; it must be embedded into everything that we do as an institution” Axe told SCAN. “The [University’s] strategy says that sustainability is something that the University is taking seriously, so we’re very excited to make that happen in terms of practical, on the ground action in the years to come”.
“Since Week 5, with the formation of the Green Lancaster Action Group, a high level management group for oversight of sustainability activity, there has already been a visible change, and by the end of the Summer Term it could all look completely different. I think that was the key thing about Green Lancaster Week – using it as a springboard for our future work.”