University of Reading launches sustainability programme for 4,000 employees

University of Reading sustainability programme

The University of Reading has launched a gamified sustainability programme to all of its 4,000 UK employees, including academic and support staff.

The Jump programme, provided by engagement specialist Green Rewards, was piloted by four teams, making up 500 employees overall, from May to July 2018.

The sustainability initiative encourages participants to take part in activities such as reducing energy and water use, sustainable travel, minimising waste, and responsible purchasing. Employees compete together against other departments or teams to earn ‘green points’, which can be exchanged for individual and team prizes.

To earn points, employees can take part in various activities under specific themes: engagement and new ideas, energy and water reduction, food and drink, sustainable travel, and reduce, reuse and recycle.

During the pilot, 2,470 positive actions were taken. At the end of the pilot, the team with the most points was awarded a £200 prize to be donated to charity. In this instance, the prize was donated to the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust.

Luke Cantellow, energy officer at the University of Reading, commented: “We find targeting the behaviour of our employees an effective way to reduce the University’s environmental impact. The focus on positive action and teamwork makes Jump a fun and encouraging programme to be part of. The pilot was really successful in getting our staff on board with sustainability, and we are expecting a much greater impact with it opening to all staff.”

Following the success of the trial, the University of Reading launched the programme to all 4,000 staff members during its Green Festival. This took place from 14 November to 16 November 2018, during which time the university and students’ union hosted sustainable events to raise awareness of green issues.

The festival also provided an opportunity for the employer to publicise those actions it has already taken, and explore what more might be done to reduce its environmental impact.

The activities that took place during the Green Festival included bike repair and maintenance sessions, bike skills training, tours of the university’s energy centre, a green careers event, a no plastic day pledge, and a university switch off, where participants were encouraged to turn off electrical appliances before leaving for the weekend.

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The Jump programme was launched on Wednesday 14 November, with a drop-in session for staff to sign up, during which the first 50 staff subscribers were able to receive a sustainable coffee cup. This launch saw 159 employees sign up for the initiative.

Graham Simmonds, managing director at Green Rewards, said: “With over one million positive actions logged to date across all of our client programmes, we are thrilled to see the University of Reading’s Jump programme being rolled out to all its employees. The recent [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report highlighted the need for individual action, and our client programmes are all about motivating people to make positive lifestyle choices.”