Going Green at the Quadram Institute

26th May 2023

Staff and students are taking part in a national scheme to improve environmental and social sustainability at the Quadram Institute and across Norwich Research Park

The Quadram Green Impact team sat on a bench, in front of a green bush, with the Quadram Institute behind.

Green Impact is a United Nations award-winning programme designed to support environmentally and socially sustainable practice within organisations. We spoke to Dr Emmanuelle Crost, part of our Green Impact team at the Quadram Institute to find out more.

“There is increasing awareness of environmental issues, including sustainability in day-to-day research.

The Green Impact scheme aims to encourage behaviour change to encourage environmentally friendly practices. The scheme works through actions that are recorded and evidenced. Later, student auditors come and check the evidence for these actions.

Green Impact actions can be anything from recycling to rewilding. A certain number of actions are needed to receive different award levels such as bronze, silver and gold.

Our Quadram Institute Green Impact team are currently working towards achieving a bronze Green Impact Award. Our team is part of the wider Green Impact team across Norwich Research Park, coordinated by the John Innes Centre.

We are not part of Green Impact for a box ticking exercise, but because it is a good starting point for being more sustainable as an institute. Personally, I have always been interested in being green. There are nine team members in our team from roles across the institute, including students, postdoctoral researchers and technicians who share an interest and drive in making the Quadram Institute greener.

We each bring our own ideas and interests to make positive changes across the institute. You don’t need to be perfect; it’s about trying and taking small actions.

Reducing and recycling waste

A key area we are working on, as part of Green Impact, is reducing and recycling our waste.

We were doing some activities to reduce waste already, but now we are promoting and documenting these actions. For example, often people do not print documents for meetings but we have been raising awareness of this and encouraging even more people to think before printing.

We are also working on raising awareness internally of reducing food waste, by promoting national campaigns such as Love Food, Hate Waste.

Along with reducing waste, we have been improving recycling of waste. We do not produce normal household waste so it can be tricky to translate information from household waste to the lab.

Through our research, we generate biological, chemical, and clinical waste. We must ensure everything we recycle is clean to maintain health and safety.

Clean waste in the lab does not look like a can of coke, newspaper or a bottle of water. Instead, it is things like plastic wrappers that consumables, such as petri dishes and pipettes, come in. We are now recycling these plastic wrappers.

In the lab we have a lot of expanding polystyrene to keep certain deliveries cool. Unfortunately expanding polystyrene is a tricky thing to recycle. But it is something we are hoping to look at recycling in the future.

Saving Energy

Science uses a lot of energy. We are making changes to save energy, such as encouraging people to turn off computers and equipment before weekends and bank holidays.

There are existing actions that we can document and include as part of Green Impact. On the roof of the Quadram Institute there are solar panels that help generate renewable energy for the building.

We’ve introduced and are encouraging people to use re-chargeable batteries wherever possible.

Lots of Green Impact actions are beneficial for the institute in other ways too. By promoting energy-saving measures, we are helping to reduce financial costs for the institute too.

Improving wellbeing

Some actions we’re taking as part of Green Impact can have benefits to our wellbeing as well as the environment.

Outside the building, mowing of lawns has stopped and now there are lots of wildflowers.

We would like to organise litterpicks too, which as well as improving the environment and benefiting wildlife, are a social event to bring people together.

Inside the building, we are encouraging people to bring plants into our offices through activities like “Bring a Plant to Work” day.

Part of park wide positive changes

It is helpful that we are part of the wider Norwich Research Park drive to be greener. Our Quadram Institute Green Impact team is one of several teams taking part in Green Impact on the research park.

We exchange ideas, insight and practical aspects too. At the Quadram Institute we share our purchasing and other platforms with the John Innes Centre, so together we can implement changes across both institutes. At the John Innes Centre, there is a Sustainability Officer Ethne Clark, who is key in helping drive some of these changes and sharing advice, including sharing equipment energy monitoring data

It is great that the Green Impact scheme is flexible. You can add your own ideas and see these changes put into action.

Together, we can make changes to improve the sustainability of the Quadram Institute and the Norwich Research Park.”

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