Sustainability benchmark

Keele launched the Sustainability Benchmark in 2018-19 to provide a campus-wide scheme that involves all Schools and Directorates to ensure that University policies relating to environmental and sustainability operations are being implemented.

Staff Sustainability Representatives are the point of contact for the Sustainability Benchmark Audit. The audit includes 20 criteria which relate to sustainability activities linked to energy, waste, wellbeing, education for sustainability, procurement and transport, but also include communication, engagement and leadership. The criteria were developed in partnership through focus groups and are designed to enable Schools and Directorates to focus on projects which link with their activities rather than becoming a tick-box exercise.

There is also a large amount of innovative work taking place across the campus, embedding sustainability into operations, research, the curriculum and more, and we want to recognise and celebrate this. By being part of the Sustainability Benchmark, your School/Directorate can also become eligible to apply for funding towards a sustainability project, which can align with one or more of the Benchmark criteria, and enables your team to be nominated for a Sustainability Innovation Award.

Student auditors are trained to partner up with Schools/Directorates and explore the evidence submitted. This provides a great opportunity to engage with university processes and operations outside their formal curriculum, and to gain insights into the practicalities of embedding sustainability into a higher education institution. The Sustainability Benchmark is a great example of student-led auditing of environmental sustainability that takes place annually.

If your team is unable to complete all the criteria, we encourage you to still get involved as your School/Directorate will still be able to engage with the auditing process and will receive the 'Working towards the Benchmark' award.

Find out which teams achieved the Sustainability Benchmark below:

Keele Sustainability Benchmark 2021 has seen 6 teams from across the university submitting evidence and achieving benchmark awards. Each year, teams led by Staff Sustainability Representatives demonstrate how the criteria relating to key sustainability themes are being met and embedded into operations and activities, from energy to wellbeing, leadership to student engagement. A team of student auditors are trained by the Environmental Manager to assess evidence and conduct interviews with Staff Reps, producing a report of their findings in conjunction with the Sustainability Team. These reports then make recommendations that student auditors feel could help increase the effectiveness, impact and reach of sustainability activities within Schools and Directorates.

Activities were largely online this year, including the audits, and some accommodations were made for the impacts of covid but the teams that took part all increased their award levels and demonstrated excellent and innovative ways to engage staff and students, taking part in university and local sustainability challenges and action.

This years results are:

  • Gold Leaf Award- School of Computing and Maths
  • 3 Leaf Award - Campus Library
  • 3 Leaf Award - School of Chemical and Physical Sciences
  • 3 Leaf Award - School of Geography, Geology and the Environment
  • 2 Leaf Award - Keele Business School
  • 1 Leaf Award - Directorate of Research Innovation and Engagement

The results of the 2019-20 Benchmark are now in! Congratulations to all the teams taking part this year - it was fantastic to see the pilot cohort of 3 increase to 14 for the 2019-20 Benchmark, and hopefully next year we’ll have even more teams engaging with this University-wide programme.

Teams were scored based on their work towards criteria that aim to ensure the University’s sustainability policies are being implemented. Criteria encompass energy, procurement, engagement with sustainability, embedding the UN Sustainable Development Goals, health and wellbeing and equality and diversity.

Student auditors were trained to review evidence, conduct interviews with the Staff Sustainability Reps from each team, and make recommendations which have informed reports (new for this year) which can feed into ongoing progress and action to ensure sustainability is genuinely being embedded into everything we do across the University.

There are 5 levels of awards up for grabs: ‘working towards’ for those on their benchmark journey but not yet meeting all criteria; ‘1 leaf’ for teams achieving at least 35 points and meeting at least 10 criteria; ‘2 leaves’ for teams achieving at least 55 points and at least 10 criteria; ‘3 leaves’ for teams achieving at least 75 points and all criteria, and the gold leaf for scoring over 95 points.

This year’s results are:

3 Leaves Award
Campus Library
School of Computing and Maths

2 Leaves Award
School of Chemical and Physical Sciences
School of Geography, Geology and the Environment

1 Leaf Award
Audio Visual Services
Central Science Laboratories (CSL)
Events and Conferencing
Keele Institute for Innovation and Teaching Excellence (KIITE)
School of Medicine
Sports Centre
Student Services
VC’s Office

Working Towards the Benchmark
HR and Organisational Development
Keele Business School
Research, Engagement and Innovation (RIE)

Well done to all participants - there have been some fantastic actions as a result of this year's Benchmark process. If your team isn't included above and you'd like to be involved for 2020-21, contact the Sustainability Team for more information.

Congratulations and a big thank you to the three teams who submitted their criteria as part of the Sustainability Benchmark audit process for 2018-19.

Teams submissions were scored based on the number of points they received, with the potential to achieve 1, 2 or 3 leaves or a much sought-after 'gold leaf' depending on their achievements.

The aim is for all Schools/Directives to be completing the criteria each year. If your School/Directorate wasn't involved this year, contact the Sustainability Team.

The School of Chemical and Physical Sciences received 3 leaves recognising the team's significant progress in embedding sustainability into a large number of processes within the School. Katherine Haxton received the certificate on behalf of the School as their Staff Sustainability Representative.

The campus Library team also received 3 leaves demonstrating the team's engagement with sustainability activities and events.  Stephen Parton received the certificate on behalf of the Library as their Staff Sustainability Representative.

The School of Computing and Maths received the 'Working towards the Benchmark' award showing the team's commitment to engage with sustainability and develop activities within the School. Chris Briggs received the certificate on behalf of the School as their Staff Sustainability Representative.

Congratulations to the Schools and Departments that took part in this year's Sustainability Benchmark! 
Information and Digital Services (IDS), the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences and the School of Nursing and Midwifery were all awarded Gold Leaf award, with Keele Business School receiving a 3 Leaf award. 
Nominees were audited on sustainability criteria linked to energy, waste, transport and education, alongside communication, engagement and leadership. The criteria, which was developed in partnership with focus groups, was designed to enable Schools and Directorates to focus on projects which linked with their respective activities.   
Feedback from the audit process has been provided to each team that took part. These reports will then be used in the creation of action plans for the upcoming year. 

Sustainability Engagement Officer Alana Wheat said: “This year has seen some fantastic examples of ‘embedding sustainability in all that we do’ at Keele in operations, research, the curriculum and more. We will be collating the case studies shared and celebrating the positive actions taking place across the University.”