A coming together of Sussex University and USSU…in a good way!
Greetings! My name is Pat, I am the new Energy and Environment Manager for the University, and work in the Estates & Facilities Management Department. As I’ve been here for about 4 months now, I thought it about time that I penned something to tell you all a little about who I am and what I do.
So what does `Energy and Environment Manager’ really mean? Well, I would summarise my role by saying that I am here principally to champion the whole sustainability agenda for the University, improving our environmental performance through education, campaigning and project delivery. In practice, that includes contributing to the environmental design of the new buildings planned for the campus (- yes, you heard right, new buildings!), organising environmental campaigns (collaboratively with student and staff colleagues), running the Environmental Forum, developing pollution prevention guidelines, and delivering the University’s Environmental Management Scheme, “EcoCampus” to list but a few. All these require the challenging of existing thinking and a fair degree of technical knowledge.
In terms of background, I was a late starter to university education, although was involved in environmental campaigning and conservation projects in my then local Dorset for many years beforehand. I started my 1st degree in Environmental Science at the University of East Anglia at the ripe old age of 23, where I was hugely inspired by my Head of School, Professor Tim O’Riordan. Sixteen years later with a MSc under my belt, a 9 year career with the Environment Agency, a 5 year career with the RNLI, a brief career in the renewables sector, and a lot less hair (some of which is now grey!) I find myself at Sussex – and what a great place, with many challenges ahead!
So what have I achieved in the last 4 months? Well, not as much as I would have liked – my mobility is a bit impaired still after an accident in September, so I haven’t been as visible around campus as I would have liked to have been. Nevertheless, some of the headline results are that I’ve worked hard with USSU (particularly the Finance Officer and the most excellent Ethical & Environmental Officer, Ellie Hopkins), and we have really turned the tide in terms of a collaborative approach on environmental issues. I’ve secured, with my colleagues in Estates, the award of a £250,000 “Revolving Green Fund” to deliver carbon reduction projects across the campus. I’ve been busy making sure that the Executive Management knows all about the university’s environmental responsibilities and formalising this in a new environmental policy. I’m currently working with colleagues (both staff and students) to organise an informative yet fun Green Week in week 1 of the Summer term (watch out for Lee Vernon and I dressed up in lightbulb outfits!), scoping feasibility for a rainwater harvesting scheme at the Sports Pavilion, developing action plans for EcoCampus, completing Green Gown Award applications, and developing further carbon reduction schemes in anticipation of the forthcoming Carbon Reduction Commitment.
But its not all about the university. As I mentioned above I have been working with USSU too. Green Week will be the first of many collaborative events, but the union has a more day-to-day relationship with the university, and with me too. And this is where the Ethical and Environmental Officer comes in. Why is the Ethical and Environmental Officer post important to the University? Well it forms a critical bridge between university management and the student body on ethical and environmental issues. It presents an opportunity to demonstrate that a collaborative approach is more successful than individual effort. It provides management with a fresh insight to the issues that matter to the student population, and in turn provides insight to students as to the practical application of environmental issues in the campus environment (and beyond!).
So what have Ellie and I worked on together in the last 4 months? We both contributed to the Sound Impact Award application, which hopefully will see our accreditation rise from bronze to silver. We jointly planned an environmental session for the Big Picture event in InQbate in December. We jointly visited Brighton University to look at their Building Management System and rainwater harvesting scheme. And we have met regularly and
informally to discuss environmental projects across campus, including my intentions to influence the environmental design of the new buildings. So you will see that the role is wide and varied.
Ellie has done a fantastic job in this role, and I will really miss her, especially her enthusiasm and commitment to ethical and environmental issues. Whilst recognising that the role is voluntary and unpaid, it is really important to us, so I would plead to you, beg you, challenge you to go for the role of Ethical and Environmental Officer. Meanwhile, at night, I prefer to stroke motorcycles, howl at the moon, dance naked in the woods at the bottom of my garden, and start fires.