Charmaine Morrell: Reward schemes can engage employees with sustainability agendas

Nottingham Trent University (NTU) launched NTU Green Rewards in February 2019 to further engage colleagues with the sustainability agenda at NTU. As one of the most sustainable universities in the world, we wanted to support employees in furthering their sustainability efforts by creating a way to reward their positive actions, through gamification, in support of our Embracing Sustainability strategy and net zero carbon target.

Working with Team Jump we developed our NTU Green Rewards platform to include a range of actions across six main themes: food and drink, health and wellbeing, carbon, community, and resource efficiency. We’ve recently added a monthly theme with changing content to keep even our most committed participants on their toes with new challenges.

Participating in NTU Green Rewards is easy, as the platform is available through both a web browser and as a smart phone app. Points are earned for every action an individual takes, and the top two earners each month receive a voucher to be spent at local shops or venues. A weekly reminder helps to keep everyone engaged and motivated, knowing that our good deeds are adding up to make a difference. Participants can also view how much carbon they are saving along with other environmental impacts.

Colleagues can also select their department or team when they sign up allowing us to report on progress for both individuals and teams through a leader board, generating friendly rivalry. Each academic term, a charity donation is made on behalf of the team with the highest total points earned.

Since the initiative was launched at NTU in 2019, nearly 1,200 colleagues have taken part. In September 2019 we opened the platform to students and have seen 1,600+ students join in. To date, more than 142,000 positive and wellbeing actions have been completed by staff and students and nearly 300,000 kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have been avoided as a result.

Green Rewards is one of many ways NTU works to inform, empower, and inspire our staff and students to ‘Embrace Sustainability’. Sustainability ambassador and eco-champion schemes allow colleagues and students across the university to work more closely with my team, developing leadership skills and helping to deliver projects. We also host a series of events and workshops throughout the year where staff and students can learn more, such as Sustainability Action Week and the Climate Action Summit.

Green Rewards has enabled NTU to signpost and incentivise colleagues and students to make those changes, while rewarding their positive climate actions, in a fun and meaningful way.

Charmaine Morrell is head of sustainability, Estates Department, at Nottingham Trent University