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Empower staff sustainability action with Green Impact

Rachel Soper
April 17, 2024
Note: This article is all about our 2024-25 Green Impact support package for universities and colleges. Explore our work in other sectors here if you are not from a university or college!

Green Impact is a sustainability learning and awards scheme supporting teams who want to improve their sustainability and social responsibility. It started with a student idea in 2006, and has since expanded into a successful employee engagement programme in many sectors, reaching tens of thousands of people each year.  

In 2023, six new universities joined our Green Impact programme for universities, and we are now ready to welcome even more participants for 2024-25 to grow our reach and impact. Read on to find out more, or you can view our brochure here to see how the programme works, and what support is included.  

Why should you bring Green Impact to your organisation?

Green Impact can support you in achieving your sustainability goals, by motivating and empowering members of the university community to act. The programme is tailored to you, so inspires action which is in line with your local strategy and priorities, and links with other campus initiatives.  

Student demand: According to SOS-UK research, 89% of students say their place of study should actively incorporate and promote sustainable development. More than half say that, when choosing where to apply for university, they were influenced by the action their place of study takes on environmental issues. Green Impact is one way to respond to this student demand and demonstrate clear leadership on sustainability. The programme also offers lots of opportunities for students to get involved, so they can become sustainability leaders themselves (you can read the experience of one of our student volunteers here!).  

Staff demand: Research shows that staff are more fulfilled at work when they are able to make a positive impact on environmental and social issues. By empowering staff to be a part of your sustainability work through Green Impact, you’ll be able to embed sustainability in a much more effective way, all while creating the culture they want to see.

Research and researchers: Recent research from 127 UK universities has highlighted that most university researchers are worried about climate change and 96% want to do more about the problem in their university. However, high workloads, uncertainty over what they can do, and a lack of agency prevents them from acting. Green Impact provides a clear framework to help teams take relevant action for sustainability, and participation requires less than an hour a week on average.  

“Participating in Green Impact offers invaluable insights into the collective impact of small, sustainable changes, fostering a supportive community dedicated to addressing the urgent challenges of climate change.  Sustainability schemes like Green Impact empower universities to lead by example, inspiring future generations and other institutions to adopt sustainable practices.” aroj Saurya Sir William Dunn School of Pathology University of Oxford. Photo of four people collecting their Green Impact award.

How does it work?

Green Impact runs across the whole organisation, with teams forming across all areas of operation. We work with you to co-create your online toolkit with actions which will contribute meaningfully to your sustainability strategy, reflect local targets, procedures and priorities, and fit with your culture. The toolkit will be made up of simple, engaging, and impactful actions for teams to complete, covering a wide range of sustainability themes, including energy, waste, water, biodiversity, and wellbeing.

Once the toolkit is live, teams will track their progress and upload evidence to the toolkit, and at the end of the year will receive a student-led audit to verify the actions they’ve completed. Each team will then be presented with a Green Impact award to demonstrate their achievements. You’ll work closely with your assigned project manager from SOS-UK throughout who will support you to make the most of your programme and can deliver training and communications to engage and support your teams.  

Green Impact is an effective way to create sustainable change across the organisation, and an exciting way for staff to get involved in sustainability. It offers a clear framework to create and maintain engagement with a network of sustainability champions who are empowered through Green Impact to lead on sustainability in their area of work.  

"“The Green Impact toolkit is well thought out and intuitive to use. We were concerned that Green Impact would require lots of time and administration to complete, but were pleasantly surprised to find out that this was not the case.  We are really excited to be working with students on Green Impact this year  who provide help and support.” Beck Sinar, Norwegian Study Centre University of York. Background image of a computer dislaying the Green Impact toolkit.

What SOS-UK can bring to your sustainability work through Green Impact

Green Impact is delivered by the charity SOS-UK. As a student-led charity, everything we do is not-for-profit and underpinned by sector-leading research, making us an affordable and ethical partner for institutions dedicated to representing their students through positive change.  

One of SOS-UK's charitable objectives is to make sustainability more inclusive, and this ethos is woven through our programmes. We take a climate justice approach to sustainability action and will support you to make your sustainability work inclusive and accessible.  

SOS-UK also offers a diverse range of programmes and campaigns for the education sector alongside Green Impact. Many institutions partner with us to further student engagement, curriculum change, biodiversity and wellbeing alongside staff engagement through Green Impact. You can find out more about our full 2024-25 support offer here. Our experience across the sector means we are well-equipped to support you wherever you need it.  

“Without the Green Impact toolkit I wouldn't have known where to start.   Although gaining the award is an achievement for my department, the real impact is seeing how the seeds are being sown which encourage staff to think about their actions during their working day.” Lisa, Learning Resources Oxford Brookes University. Picture of Lisa wearing sunglasses.

Bring Green Impact to you

Find out more in our brochure here, or contact us to discuss in more detail. You can reach the Green Impact Senior Project Manager, Rachel Soper, directly here. If you're ready to sign-up your university for 2024-25, you can do so here!

This article has focused on Green Impact for Universities, but we deliver Green Impact in many sectors including healthcare, cultural heritage and local authorities. If you are from another organisation you can view our sector-specific programmes here, or get in touch to discuss.

Lastly, if you are a student looking to get involved with Green Impact, you can find out more about volunteering with us here!  

“Green Impact plays a vital role in helping our team achieve our sustainability goals by offering a structured approach. It provides resources, tools, and support to identify areas for improvement, set targets, and track progress. It’s also great to see other teams within the University contributing and how they are placing within the leaderboard.   Through our Green Impact work, our team morale has improved as we work towards a common goal of sustainability. Additionally, our reputation has been enhanced, attracting environmentally conscious clients and partners who value our commitment to sustainability.” Katie Lewis, The Venue@DMU, De Montfort University. Photo of Katie holding two Green Impact awards in front of The Venue.

Thank you to all the Green Impact participants who shared their experiences and photos with us for this post!