by John Blythe and Wynn Calder
For Liverpool John Moores University (JMU), the last decade has
been one of extraordinary accomplishment in its transition toward
sustainability. This article looks at the process of going green
at JMU: the steps taken; the people involved; and the conditions
which allowed ideas and efforts to come to fruition. The article
gives particular focus to an environmental review process which
began in early 1997 and culminated in the publication of an Environmental
Performance Report. This report gave JMU an opportunity for critical
self-reflection and re-assessment and offered other higher education
institutions a chance to examine their own commitment to sustainability.
As a city based institution, JMU comprises approximately 45 buildings
spread over three main campuses. Over 20,000 students work with
a staff of nearly 3,000. Operationally, the organization is typical
of a 'new' university with fifteen Schools in three Academic Divisions
(Engineering and Science; Education, Health and Social Science;
Arts and Professional Studies) supported by over 25 academic and
business support services under the direction of the Executive
Offices of the Vice-Chancellor, Provost, Bursar and the University
In his forward to the JMU 1997 Environmental Performance Report,
Professor Peter Toyne, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of
JMU, makes the following observations: "Going green is not
a soft option; nor is it something to be embraced by a few zealots
and fanatics. It is our common task which needs to be taken on
with enthusiasm and pragmatism by us all. It is about all our
futures and it is at the center of responsible citizenship. I
believe we have made a start at JMU, but there is a long way to
go before we can claim to be anything other than 'light green'."
The Last Ten Years
The following is a list of milestones in JMU's environmental
progress over the last decade:
- Liverpool Polytechnic Green Task Group was established in
response to increasing pressure from staff and students for
greater awareness of environmental issues, May 1988.
- Green Task Group was strengthened and transformed into the
Environmental Awareness Committee. The Environmental Policy
Unit and the post of Environmental Policy Officer were created
(prompted by the imminent publication of the "Toyne Report"),
- "Toyne Report on Environmental Responsibility" published,
- Environmental Policy and Action Plan was approved by the Executive
Management Team in response to Toyne's recommendations, October
- Three new undergraduate degree programs with an environmental
theme were approved, 1994.
- Environmental purchasing policy implemented, 1995.
- In response to "Toyne II," funding was secured for
a full-time Environment Coordinator to steer the University's
environmental program, 1996.
- Energy efficiency awards received in 1994, 1995 and 1997.
- Launch of the 'Environment' website (http//www.livjm.ac.uk/HSandE/)
and an internal information bulletin called "Greenfile,"
- Vice Chancellor signed the Talloires Declaration, October
- JMU 'Leadership' Team Seminar held an awareness event - "Managing
for Environmental and Cost Savings" - in conjunction with
The Environment Council, 1997.
- Environment Officer position made permanent. Curriculum Greening
Officer appointed, 1997.
- Environmental awareness training introduced as a core requirement
for new staff induction program, 1997.
- Publication of first Environmental Performance Report (EPR)
stating clear and achievable objectives and targets for continual
performance improvement (supervised by an Environmental Review
- Transport, Waste and Energy Steering Groups convened to pursue
the objectives and targets stated in the EPR, 1997.
- Health, Safety and Environment Unit (HS&E Unit) established,
born out of the existing Health and Safety Unit and Environmental
Management Unit to allow the integration of evolving management
responsibilities and operational systems, 1997.
- The Health, Safety and Environmental Awareness Committee was
amalgamated to form the Health, Safety and Environment Committee,
an Executive sub-committee with broad representation from across
the University community, 1997.
- Appointment and introduction of School/Service Environment
Officers across the University to champion the new HS&E
- Approval gained for the introduction of an integrated Health,
Safety and Environment Policy Statement and Codes of Practice
covering a wide range of HS&E matters, 1998.
Environmental Policy and Action Plan
The university's first serious excursion into the sphere of environmental
responsibility and sustainable practice was formalized following
the first "Toyne Report on Environmental Responsibility"
in 1993. Professor Toyne wrote the report after chairing a Committee
established by the Government Department of Education to investigate
the potential for greening higher education. The Environmental
Policy and Action Plan (EPAP), which was established in 1994 to
fulfil the recommendations of Toyne I, became the stimulus for
a number of critical decisions made by the Executive in the years
Toyne I recommended there should be a review after three years.
Thus Toyne II was published in July 1996. In a critical step forward,
a full time Environment Officer was appointed to spearhead the
remaining implementation of the EPAP as it became clear that projects
required coordination on a regular basis. The Officer was also
charged with developing a communications strategy to raise awareness
of sustainable practices. This strategy included planning the
seminar called "Managing for Environmental and Cost Savings,"
aimed at Senior Management; launching the website and "Greenfile";
and creating steering groups to broaden the sustainability debate.
The Officer also established an Environmental Management Unit
(EMU) to carry out the recommendations of Toyne II.
The EMU, with an allocated budget, was then positioned to conduct
a comprehensive study aimed to determine the adequacy of existing
policies, systems and procedures in relation to environmental
and sustainability issues, legislation and changing circumstances.
Environmental Review Process
In January 1997, the EMU brought together a small in-house group
of Senior Managers to form an Environmental Review Team (ERT)
and oversee the review process. The ERT, chaired by the Assistant
Bursar (Finance), was composed of key representatives from Operational
Services, Estates Management, Audit Services and Financial Services
together with a member of the Academic staff with environmental
management experience and the Environment Officer who was appointed
overall co-ordinator for the Review.
Initial preparation by the ERT consisted of determining the scope
of the Review and determining the personnel who would contribute
to the review process. Methods of gathering information were to
include formal questionnaires, checklists, interviews with a range
of key personnel, and general observation. The ERT established
the following objectives:
Key Objectives of the Review:
- Produce a management tool which evaluates the policies and
practices within the organization.
- Make recommendations for further action in areas identified
as lacking environmental consideration.
- Raise awareness and understanding of environmental issues
and of the need for commitment to the process of environmental
Reporting and Publicizing the Environmental Review
The inaugural Environmental Performance Report (EPR) 1997, launched
in September, represents the University's commitment to accountability
through the disclosure of actual performance against stated policy
objectives. Moreover, it establishes the University's intentions
for continual performance improvement and describes how this is
to be achieved.
It was agreed that the report should be professionally presented
for the widest possible circulation with the greatest effect,
and written for all potential audiences - students, staff, stakeholder
groups, other UK and foreign higher education institutions.
Following extensive consultation and many redrafts by the Environment
Officer, 4000 reports were printed, the majority of which were
distributed internally. Other recipients included 200 suppliers,
contractors and associates of JMU, local schools and colleges,
Vice Chancellors and Principles from all UK higher education institutions,
and all 250 Talloires Declaration signatories (see Resources section
to view report on website).
Highlights from the Environmental Performance Report
JMU is fulfilling many of its policy goals in all areas of campus
operations. In Energy Conservation, the University has established
an ongoing energy management program which has performed an energy
audit for all University buildings; completed ten specified energy
conservation projects; conducted a University-wide energy awareness
campaign including good practice publications and training seminars;
developed and promoted Energy Conservation Task Groups; and re-negotiated
utility contracts. As noted above, JMU was given three energy
efficiency awards by utility companies between 1994 and 1997.
In the area of Waste Management and Reduction, a Waste Management
Steering Group was established in 1997 in response to a December
1996 report entitled "Wastebusting - Reducing the Waste Burden
at JMU," produced by the Environmental Management Unit. This
group immediately addressed the report's recommendations. First,
it was agreed that reduction of waste bound for landfill was a
priority. Second, in acknowledging that paper constituted a significant
percentage of University waste, recycling initiatives were established.
Paper reduction initiatives have been supported by the transfer
of various institutional publications, such as the staff and student
handbooks, to the Campus Wide Information System (CWIS). Many
University handbooks and other procedural documents are now only
available on the CWIS. A recycling scheme to collect computer
consumables such as ink and toner cartridges has been introduced
into all University learning resource centers and Information
Technology suites. In 1995, the Academic Board agreed on a policy
to allow all printed coursework, including theses, to be submitted
on double-sided printed paper. The use of the double-sided printers
has been encouraged and they have started to replace old printers.
A strict policy of double-sided printing and copying was then
introduced in to the Print Office. A Waste Audit and Review of
procedures is currently underway.
The JMU Food Policy includes the following goals: to make healthy,
nutritious and ethnically sensitive food generally available at
all University catering outlets; to purchase foodstuffs from local
suppliers wherever possible; to maximize use of organically grown
foodstuff; to minimize energy usage in the preparation and cooking
of food; and, to minimize the packaging of foods at catering outlets.
JMU is making significant progress in meeting these goals. Recent
changes include in-house production of refectory sandwiches which
had previously been brought in, and an increase in vegetarian
options at food services.
JMU's policy on Purchasing states: "In purchasing its services,
materials, equipment and consumable items, the University will
give preference to products which do least harm to the environment,
which are not supplied with excessive packaging, and which are
benign or at least harmless in their effect on the environment.
Where possible preference will be given to local or regional suppliers
to maximize the University's input to the local community."
Currently, JMU requires suppliers of furniture and computer hardware
(over ten units) to take away packaging after delivery and installation.
Cleaning solution containers are also disposed of or refilled
by suppliers. JMU plans to hold an awareness event to teach product
awareness among purchasers in March 1999.
JMU's policy on Transport and Commuting includes a commitment
to purchasing fuel efficient University vehicles and minimizing
damaging emissions; encouraging walking, bicycle use and public
transport among the University community and between campuses;
and a campaign for cycling paths linking campuses and other student
facilities. In July 1997 a Transport and Commuting Steering Group
was established in response to a number of transport concerns.
This group is primarily concerned with fostering less student
and staff dependence on cars by providing attractive and sustainable
options. The Steering Group's first task was to facilitate the
introduction of a shuttle bus service linking the main University
campuses and buildings. JMU also contributed to the Liverpool
City Council's cycling strategy in 1997 and then established a
University strategy to complement the local plan which includes
improved bicycle parking facilities and interest-free loans for
staff to purchase bicycles. A University Travel Survey was conducted
in February 1999. (Not included here are achievements in the areas
of the Built Environment; Health, Safety, Welfare, and the Learning
Environment; Greening the Curriculum; plus a recent initiative
in Education for Citizenship - see website for more information.)
Meeting the Objectives of the Review
The key outputs of the Review were met and exceeded. Feedback
on the content and format of the Environmental Performance Report
(EPR), both from JMU students and staff and from other institutions
engaged in the process of implementing the recommendations of
'Toyne I & II' was complimentary and encouraging and has added
credence to the whole environmental review process. The experience
of producing an EPR achieved a number of tangible benefits for
the institution as well as continuing debate over the role of
colleges and universities in environmental responsibility and
The production of an EPR has provided an opportunity to promote
positive and practical solutions to environmental concerns; acknowledges
the vital contribution made by a number of key 'champions' within
the organization; allows the assessment of performance against
a set of target indicators; and highlights the need for sustained
efforts to raise awareness and encourage cooperation across the
organization if policy statements are to be transformed into reality.
John Blythe is the Environment Officer at Liverpool John Moores
University. He can be reached at email@example.com. Wynn
Calder coordinates outreach and membership and edits The Declaration
RETURN TO TOP