Q&A: Sustainability in student accommodation

Friday 27-01-2017 - 14:24

We spoke to Lauren Rowe, Sustainability Engagement Manager at Unite Students - the UK's leading provider of student accommodation. Lauren runs Up to uS, which was 'highly commended' in the 2016 Energy Awards.

How would you describe the ‘Up to uS’ sustainabiltiy engagement programme?

Unite Students' Up to uS is, as the name suggests, designed to promote and encourage both staff and student customers to adopt responsible behaviours. Developed over the last three years, using social change theory, Up to uS is unique in that it encompasses a range of activities on a national, local and individual level that truly embed behavioural change within the organisation.

In all of our properties nationally we use digital screens, social media and in-property displays to educate our new customers on the key behaviours that they can adopt each day to be more sustainable. To further encourage change we run national campaigns each term that are designed to influence green behaviours in alternative ways. Locally, this activity is supported by our network of sustainability champions who are guided by the NUS Green Impact workbook. The workbook contains a variety of actions specific to Unite Students which all help us towards achieving our sustainability targets. Finally at the individual level, we engage with our students directly through providing them with opportunities to join our employee teams as volunteers to help them implement the actions in the Green Impact workbook. This year, students will also be presented with the energy performance of their property over the course of the year to provide them with feedback on the actions that we are encouraging as part of Up to uS.

Why does sustainability matter to Unite Students?

Unite Students provides a home for 46,000 students in the UK which means that we have a great opportunity to create lasting behavioural change towards environmentally-friendly behaviour in the next generation.  Our core purpose is to provide a Home for Success to our students which means providing a safe, comfortable and sustainable environment which enables students to achieve more during their time at university. We take our responsibility seriously, and Unite Students was one of the first 125 companies globally to sign up to the Science Based Targets Initiative, committing to reduce carbon emissions in line with limiting warming to less than 2 degrees.

Alongside the Up to uS engagement campaign, we are currently completing a £21m LED lighting upgrade aiming to deliver significant carbon savings as part of a wider plan to deliver the necessary reductions.  This year we’ll be formally launching the details of our further ambitious environmental targets.  

How do you feel gaining this recognition?

It’s a real testament to everyone who has been involved in the Up to uS programme and we feel very lucky that we're able to make Up to uS even bigger in years to come!

What are your top tips for successful student AND employee engagement?

My three top tips:

  1. Make it fun - your messages have to stand out from the crowd. 
  2. Make it rewarding - sometimes just a thank you will do! 
  3. Make it for everyone - we all have our part to play and sometimes we just need to know how we can help.

 

Related Tags:

awards,behaviour change,q&a

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