Building a sustainability culture

24 February 2017
Dr Lesley Stone, Sustainability and Environment Manager.

An important part of building a sustainable organisation is to embed a supportive culture, and this has been the subject of a recent survey of University staff.

Results have now been analysed for the Sustainability Culture Indicator, an independent survey carried out among University staff late last year and led by the Sustainability and Environment Office.

The survey set out to explore ‘individual enablers’, such as attitudes and behaviours, and ‘organisational enablers’, such as support provided to further improve sustainability across the University’s campuses. It used a set of indicators that have been surveyed for other universities and organisations in New Zealand and Australia, and so also provides opportunities for benchmarking.

Overall, responses for our University reflected a strong sense of the importance of sustainability and a high level of personal responsibility towards it.

Respondents felt positive about sustainability and said they were regularly engaged in environmentally-friendly behaviours at home, though not quite so much at work.

Many saw potential for decision-making processes at all levels in the University to be more clearly and consistently aligned with organisational and personal sustainability commitments, and to more effectively support practical initiatives such as paperless processes and waste facilities.

Respondents appear to feel relatively clear about where sustainability fits within their jobs, but see an opportunity for the University to show a stronger overall strategic commitment.

Respondents also appear to recognise the importance of operating practices as well as research, teaching and learning in building a sustainable university.

“The nature of the results strongly suggests that those who responded to the survey tend to care deeply about sustainability and its implementation within the University”, says Sustainability and Environment manager, Dr Lesley Stone.

“However, there is also a strong indication that more empowerment and consistency are needed in the way the University’s sustainability commitments are projected and supported.

“These findings have helped to inform our work plan for the year, which will include communicating the results widely and enabling existing and potential sustainability champions to contribute their ideas for enhancing engagement.”

All those who want to register their interest in contributing, please contact Charlotte Blythe, Sustainability and Environment Office