At Birmingham City University we aim to embed sustainability into our processes, curriculum, and provide a range of activities, engagement and training for staff and students. Our Environmental Communications and Engagement Strategy outlines our current initiatives and future plans for communicating environmental messages and engaging with key stakeholders. Keep up-to-date on our activities by following us on Instagram @bcu_sustainability or signing up to our environmental mailing list. We currently offer the following ways to get involved or learn about the environment and what we do:
Staff environmental awareness training
Staff Environmental Awareness Training is mandatory for all staff members including new starters and must be completed every three years. It can be accessed via the Learning module on ERP.
Student environmental awareness training
Student Environmental Awareness Training modules will soon be incorporated into our Graduate+ Awards Programme. Graduate+ is an extra-curricular awards framework which complements any degree, turning high-calibre students into work-ready graduates.
Our Environmental Committee meets three times per annum and addresses issues relating to all environmental areas including the Environmental Management System, energy and carbon management and travel planning. The Committee helps to develop and review our environmental policy, objectives and targets. The Committee is formed of key members of staff from across the University. The Committee also has student representation, with a member of the Earth Society and at least one BCUSU Elected Officer taking part.
Staff Environmental Champions
We have an environmental champions network, which includes staff across a range of disciplines and areas across the University. If you are a member of staff and interested in becoming a champion, please email email@example.com with your name, job title and a brief description of why you are interested in joining the network. Please speak to your line manager before signing up.
We have an environmental champions meeting at least three times a year and have a very active Microsoft Teams group.
Sustainable Students Group
We have set up a Microsoft Teams group for students interested in environmental and wider sustainability issues. We share updates about relevant events, news and activities. To join the Sustainable Students Teams group, search for it on Teams or get in touch.
If you would like to keep up-to-date with BCU and local events, campaigns and volunteering opportunities, sign-up to receive email updates from the BCU Environmental Team. You can also register your interest with other initiatives. Please use your BCU email address when registering.
Onsite food growing spaces
We support staff and students, including the Gardening Society, to grow food on campus by providing suitable space, planters and resources. We have an onsite allotment at City South Campus and food planters on the Curzon roof terrace at City Centre Campus. Students and staff can get involved, learn something new and grow their own vegetables, fruit and herbs. For more information on how to get involved, get in touch. The photos above and below show some recent rhubarb and tomato plants that have been grown by BLSS students.
Hedgehog Friendly Campus
Students are staff can help to make BCU a Hedgehog Friendly Campus (HFC) by joining our HFC Working Group. Find out more on our biodiversity page.
We host a range of environmental events throughout the year to get involved in, including the chance to volunteer. See our Events Page for more information. Get in touch if you are interested in volunteering.
Education for Sustainable Development
There is lots of support available for staff interested in embedding sustainability into the curriculum, including a MS Teams group, courses and workshops. Find out more on our sustainable curriculum webpage.
Bicycle User Group
Join the BCU BUG! We have set up a Bicycle User Group on MS Teams; a place to share information and offer support to BCU staff and student cyclists, and potential cyclists. Use the group to discuss cycling-related issues, including advice on commuting, leisure routes, facilities and events.
Find about more about support with cycling on our travel webpage.
Waste and Resources Task Group
Interested in encouraging better waste and resource practices? Our Facilities Contracts Team have set up a Waste and Resources Task Group that all students and staff are welcome to join. Contact Julie Stanyer if you would like to get involved.
Student Switch Off
BCU halls of residence are taking part in the Student Switch Off campaign. Residents of BCU halls will compete to save the most energy, water and recycle the best. The winning hall will be crowned the Student Switch Off champion and rewarded with an end of year prize.
If you are staying at University Locks accommodation and want to reduce your impact on the climate crisis by taking personal action in halls this year, contact Uni Locks.
The Students' Union and societies
Our Students' Union (SU) strongly supports the environmental agenda, and is keen to get involved with projects and make a difference. A BCUSU Environmental Committee has been set up to push SU environmental projects and student engagement forward. In 2015/16, the SU achieved Gold in the Green Impact Student Union scheme and they have submitted the application for 2023. They have led successful canal clean-ups, and supported Go Green Weeks at the University.
Look out for social media updates, posters around the campuses, newsletter updates and data on our digital screens as a few ways we will keep in touch about environmental matters.
Quick tips to be sustainable
Everyone can help to reduce BCU’s carbon emissions and live sustainably. Here are our top ten tips:
Be energy efficient
Switch off non-essential lights and equipment and remind your colleagues and students to do the same.
Save water (and water infrastructure)
Report any of the following faults to the Estates HelpDesk:
- Constant water running down a toilet pan – although this can be a small amount of water, these faults can get worse over time.
- Water heard running behind walls.
- Dripping taps.
- Constantly refilling cisterns.
You can also help to maintain the integrity of our water infrastructure by being mindful about what is flushed down toilets and poured down sinks – fats, food, and items other than toilet paper should be disposed of in bins, rather than sinks or toilets as this causes damage to drains.
Think before you print and email
Read materials online or use projector facilities instead of printing when you can. If you do need to print something, do it double sided and/or two pages or more on one sheet and avoid printing in colour.
Consider your email habitats – sending an email with attachments can have a carbon footprint of around 50g CO2 equivalent. Could you use MS Teams or share a link to SharePoint instead?
Purchase responsibly and sustainably
Reduce your consumption - ask yourself, do you really need to buy this? Could you fix your current item or borrow or rent something instead? Could you buy less of something or buy them from more sustainable or ethical sources?
Buy energy efficient equipment, shop local and independent and purchase Fairtrade or other fairly traded products. Consider whole life cycle costs including disposal.
Do you definitely need to make the journey? If you do, can you walk, cycle or use public transport? If these aren’t an option, could you car share and/or use an electric vehicle?
Check out our travel web pages for more information including sustainable travel guides.
Reduce and reuse
Reduce how much waste you create. Use a reusable cup when purchasing hot drinks – all hot drinks sold on campus are 15p cheaper when a reusable cup is used.
Reusable crockery, cutlery and water bottles are also good options. Free drinking water points are provided at all campuses for staff, students and visitors. Locations are shown on our interactive map.
Reuse other items too, either in the same or a different way. For example, reuse non-confidential scrap paper for making notes.
Recycling can be confusing as the types of bins and what can be recycled differs in lots of places. On campus, the main bins are:
- Plastic bottles (no other plastics please)
- Cans and tins (no other metals please)
- Food waste (no packaging please)
- Paper (use the confidential waste bins)
- General waste (everything else should go in here, including disposable coffee cups and napkins)
One of the most significant actions we can take as individuals to minimise our environmental footprint is to eat a more plant-based diet. Could you eat more vegan or veggie meals?
Making your own food saves on packaging and buying local and seasonal produce or Fairtrade products are great options.
Promote biodiversity and the outdoors
There are so many benefits to being outdoors and around biodiversity. Explore the outside spaces on campus and in and around Birmingham. Think about how you can help biodiversity where you live, for example by planting wildflowers, putting up bird feeders or creating a pond. Join our Hedgehog Friendly Campus working group.
When exploring outdoor spaces, take the opportunity to learn more about nature – there are some great apps and websites to help with this, including PlantSnap and iNaturalist. If you prefer hard copies, FSC guides are really useful.
Use your voice
Get involved with environmental events and activities on campus and where you live. Help spread the word about the importance of living sustainably whenever and however you can!
If you are a member of staff, could you embed sustainability into your teaching or join our Environmental Champions network?
If you are a student, join the Earth Society and our Sustainable Students Teams group. Could you incorporate sustainability into a piece of work?
Check out our guide to being sustainable while working and learning from home.