00 electricity tariff An electricity supply profile type for individual sites that have a maximum demand of 100kW or more at any one time during three months in the last 12-months. If you are on an 00 tariff, your meter data will be recorded and sent off automatically every 30 minutes, and this 30-minute consumption data will be available to you via a website upon request from your electricity supplier. To find out your profile number, look at the rectangular code box on any of your electricity bills - profile types range from 00 to 08. The profile number is the top left number to the right of the letter.
30-minute consumption data Electricity meter data that is automatically recorded and sent off every 30-minutes. Any organisation with an 00 electricity tariff can view their 30-minute consumption data online upon request from their electricity supplier.
5 A Day The NHS recommend that you eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. They can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced. There's evidence that people who eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Find out more about 5 A Day here.
5 minute volunteering 5 minute volunteering (also known as micro-volunteering) is volunteer opportunities that are quick to do. A good example of a sustainability 5 minute volunteering project would be taking part in a planting initiative. Opportunities include
Cause Corps, Crowd4U, Missing Maps, Zooniverse and Be My Eyes.
Acid Rain Rain that has mixed with a range of industrial pollutants to become more acidic than is natural. During the 1980s, acid rain was a serious problem in Scandinavia, where whole forests and aquatic ecosystems were effectively destroyed.
Alcohol Impact Alcohol Impact is NUS and SOS-UK's behaviour change programme that supports universities and students' unions to change attitudes towards alcohol, building healthier, safer, more productive student communities. Find out more about Alcohol Impact here.
Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education The Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education (EAUC) is the membership organisation that champions the environment and sustainability within further and higher education in the UK. Find out more about EAUC here.
An Inconvenient Truth An Inconvenient Truth is an American documentary film about global warming presented by former United States Vice President Al Gore. The film was released on DVD on 21 November 2006. Find out more about An Inconvenient Truth here.
Annual General Meeting (AGM) A gathering of a companies’ shareholders which happens every year. It’s an opportunity for shareholders to ask questions and have their say on a company’s performance and strategy. Reports of activity and annual accounts are received, as well as board membership and pay being voted on. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
Aqua Stewardship Council (ASC) The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) manages standards for responsible aquaculture. Products bearing the ASC label come from fish farms that have met these standards. The on-pack label demonstrates to consumers that their seafood comes from farms that limit their impacts on the environment and the community. Find out more about the ASC here.
Arms trade The arms trade is the industry making and selling weapons and other military and ‘security’ equipment and services. Governments buy arms from their own national industries and/or others, and sometimes one country gives arms away to another. It is a deadly, corrupt business that fuels conflict, reinforces global systems of oppression and supports human rights-abusing regimes, while wasting valuable resources. It does this with the full support of governments around the world. Most major producers, including the UK, are responsible for perpetuating major wars and repression. Definition taken from NUS' Divest to Decolonise Toolkit, which you can find here.
Asset manager The person, or more likely company, in charge of making decisions on where to invest. Universities often employ asset managers to manage their investments. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
Audio-conferencing A conference call is a telephone call in which the calling party wishes to have more than one called party listen into the call. You can use conference calls daily to meet with remote parties, both internally and outside of your organisation. Conference calling is viewed as a primary means of cutting travel costs and impacts and allowing workers to be more productive by not having to go out-of-office for meetings.
Available supply capacity (kVA) Available supply capacity is the amount of electricity you reserve, so you are guaranteed supply during your periods of maximum demand. It typically costs around £1 per month per KW reserved. Not all energy supply contracts have an available supply capacity - usually only large energy users.
Be My Eyes Be My Eyes is a free mobile app with one main goal: to make the world more accessible for blind and low-vision people. The app connects blind and low-vision individuals with sighted volunteers and companies from all over the world through a live video call. Find out more about Be My Eyes here.
Bee hotel Making bee hotels is a useful way to help bees – as well as sowing bee-friendly seeds, and providing water – and one that you can do at home. A bee hotel provides space for solitary bees to nest in. There are around 220 species of wild bees in the UK, called ‘solitary’ because they make individual nest cells for their larvae. It is these solitary rather than bumble bees that will be attracted to the bee hotel we describe here. Some solitary bees are very small and black so they may not even look like what many of us think of as bees.
Better World Books Better World Books is a book reuse scheme that enables simple and effective reuse of books whilst also raising money for Read International (an almost entirely student-volunteer-led organisation delivering collaborative, student-led initiatives to improve access to education across the world and increase youth participation in the global community) as well as the donating organisation. Better World Books pays for all the necessary supplies and logistics to collect books. Find out more about Better World Books here. Find out more about Read International here.
Biodegradable Biodegradable plastic breaks down into water, CO2 and organic matter. However, this can take a very long time, and requires specific conditions; these plastics won’t biodegrade on a home compost heap. They can also leave some harmful residue of microplastics. Also see Compostable.
Biodegradable cellulose sticky tapes A sticky tape that is made from cellulose making it biodegradable. Sellotape is the best known brand made from cellulose. Many other brands are made from synthetic materials such as polypropylene or polyester.
Biodegradable poly-wrap Biodegradable poly-wrap is made from cellulose from wood pulp making it biodegradable. The majority of poly-wrap used commercially is made from synthetic polythene and is not biodegradable.
Biodegrades See Biodegradable.
Biodiversity The variation of life forms within a given species, ecosystem, or an entire planet. It is used as a meaure of health of an ecosystem.
Biodiversity area An area that can support/protect a key habitat or endangered species.
Blackout See Student Switch Off.
BMS See Building Management System.
Bond A financial product (debt security) issued by a company or a government, used as a way of
raising money. The investor is effectively lending money to the issuer. These offer a return to
investors in the form of fixed periodic payments, and the eventual return of the original money
invested at maturity – the par value. Because of their fixed periodic interest payments, they are
also often called fixed income instruments. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
Borehole A deep, narrow hole made in the ground, esp. to locate water.
Building Management System A Building Management System (BMS) is a system of programmable automated controls that switch on and off key equipment services such as ventilation, air conditioning and heating.
Building Management Systems See Building Management System.
Bulbathon An event where individuals get together to plant lots of bulbs!
Bunded The oil should sit in a container that can catch any possible spills.
Carbon dioxide Carbon dioxide (CO2) acts as a greenhouse gas contributing to global warming. The gas is generated through the burning of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide also contributes to ocean acidification. Most organisations contribute to global warming directly through transport, and indirectly through buying electricity and gas.
Carbon footprint A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced, usually measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. For an individual it typically includes the per-person electricity and gas used at home, the fuel used in a car and any air travel. For all of these the values there is an attributable amount of carbon released per unit (e.g. KWh electricity, M3 gas, miles driven in a car, miles travelled in a plane). A typical carbon footprint for an individual in the UK is 10 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year- double the world average. Find WWF's environmental footprint calculator here.
Carbon footprinting The process of calculating the carbon footprint of a person, organisation or activity.
Carbon neutral Carbon neutral is the point at which the carbon dioxide emissions from a defined activity or series of activities have been balanced through being carbon offseting or sequestered. An example of sequestration is photosynthesis, where C02 is absorbed from the atmosphere by plants.
Carbon offsetting Usually involves making a payment to an organisation to become carbon neutral. Note that the Government has backed a Gold Standard scheme for credible carbon offsetting schemes. For best practice, it is better to reduce C02 emissions rather than offset them. Find out more about the Gold Standard scheme here.
Carbon sinks A carbon sink captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The main natural carbon sinks are: absorbtion of carbon dioxide by oceans; and photosynthesis by numerous plants such as jungles.
Carbon Trust The Carbon Trust offer free, practical advice and resources to business and public sector organisations in the UK to help reduce energy use. Find out more about the Carbon Trust here.
Cause Corps Cause Corps are making small volunteering actions count in a big way. Join them to take direct action on causes you care about, through their short, free missions. Find out more about Cause Corps here.
Certified organic Organic farming practices exceed standard industry practice, they produce less pollution, are better for wildlife, and have high animal welfare standards. The use of pesticides is severely restricted and artificial fertilisers are not allowed. To prove that a product has been produced organically it must be certified by an independent body. One of the main organic certification bodies in the UK is the Soil Association. Find out more about the Soil Association here. Other sustainable food links include MSC, RSPCA Assured and free range.
Certified sustainable sources (for timber) Where a material is guaranteed to have originated from a sustainable source. There are two main certified sustainable source schemes in place for timber-based products. The first is operated by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which has developed a system of forest certification and product labelling that allows consumers to identify wood and wood-based products from well-managed forests. Over a million hectares of forest and woodland in the UK are now FSC certified. Find out more about the FSC here. The second is the scheme run by Earthworm (formally the Tropical Forest Trust), who aim to expand the area of natural tropical forest that is Forest Stewardship Council certified, helping to ensure that forest management is environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable. Find out more about Earthworm here.
Chemical waste Chemical waste is a waste that is made from harmful chemicals. Chemical waste may fall under regulations such as Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) in the UK. Chemical waste may or may not be classed as hazardous waste.
Children's Resource Centres The network of Children's Resource Centres (CRCs) collects waste materials suitable for creative play from businesses. Organisations such as arts groups, special needs schools, and scouts groups use the materials for collages, art projects, games, etc. CRCs often collect materials free of charge, especially if there are large quantities available. Items that can often be donated to CRCs include: paper used on one side only, bottle tops, wine corks, bubble wrap and other packaging materials, card, plastic crates or trays, banners, etc. Find more information here.
Cistern volume adjuster Cistern volume adjusters typically save 16% of water used by toilets and urinals, but are only suitable for pre-2000 (greater than 7 litre) cisterns. Cistern volume adjusters available include self-swelling water hogs, hippos or pigs, special bottles, plastic bricks or cistern dams (which work by retaining a proportion of the water in the cistern behind a dam made of a flexible compound fitted between the front and back wall). Cistern volume adjusters are usually available free of charge from your water provider.
Climate justice Climate justice recognises the climate crisis as a social and political problem, as well as an
environmental one. It acknowledges that different communities feel the effects of the climate crisis differently, and that the responsibility for the crisis lies with some countries and companies more than others. It understands that the lives of those already facing injustice and oppression are made harder by the impacts of the climate crisis. Definition taken from NUS' Divest to Decolonise Toolkit, which you can find here.
Clinical waste See hazardous waste.
Colonialism Colonialism is control by one power over another area and/or people through establishing settlements and/or exploiting resources. The Indigenous population are directly ruled, displaced, or exterminated. Colonising nations usually control the resources, labour and markets of the colonial territory. Often, they also impose socio-cultural, religious and linguistic structures on the Indigenous population. Definition taken from NUS' Divest to Decolonise Toolkit, which you can find here.
Commingled fund An investment fund where an asset manager collects money from individual investors and
combines it into one fund. The fund is then invested on a large scale, allowing for an economies
of scale approach to investing. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
Community Repaint Community Repaint work with community organisations, local authorities, retailers and more to, collect reusable paint and redistribute it to the community.Find out more about Community Repaint here.
Compact fluorescent (energy efficient) See Compact fluorescent (energy efficient) bulbs.
Compact fluorescent (energy efficient) bulbs A compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), also known as energy saving light bulbs, are fluorescent lamps that screw into a regular light bulb socket. CFLs work in much the same way as a fluorescent strip light: the inside is coated with a phosphor that gives off the light and there is an electronic ballast to start the lamp operating. In comparison to tungsten filament bulbs, CFLs have a longer rated life and use less electricity. Typically, CFLs save enough money in electricity costs to cover their higher initial price within about 500 hours of use.
Compact fluorescent bulbs See Compact fluorescent (energy efficient) bulbs.
Compostable Compostable packaging breaks down into water, CO2 and organic matter, like plastics labelled as ‘biodegradable’, but does so far quicker. Compostable packaging does not leave any harmful residue or microplastics. There are two types of compostable packaging: ‘Standard compostable’ packaging only biodegrades in the high temperatures of an industrial compost heap (at around 60ºC), and cannot fully biodegrade on a home compost heap. ‘Home compostable’ packaging biodegrades at 20ºC – 30ºC, doesn't require industrial conditions, and will fully biodegrade within a year.
Computer Aid Computer Aid is a charity that since 1997 has helped over 14.5 million people worldwide. They have provided over 260,000 computers in over 100 countries, enabling over 1 billion hours of learning. Find out more about Computer Aid here.
Consignment note The transfer documentation for hazardous/special waste is referred to as a consignment note. Also see Environmental legislation - Solid waste.
Consignment notes See Consignment note
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health COSHH is the law that requires employers to control substances that are hazardous to health to prevent or reduce workers' exposure to them and risk to the environment.
COSHH See Control of Substances Hazardous to Health.
Crowd4U Crowd4U is a nonprofit open microvolunteering and crowdsourcing platform for academic and public purposes. It maintains a task pool to store a number of microtasks that can be performed in a short period of time. Each of many contributors performs a small number of tasks. Find out more about Crowd4U here.
CRT monitor A Cathode Ray Tube monitor is a large TV-type monitor that used to be the screen of choice for PCs. These are now typically replaced with more energy efficient LCD screens.
Cruelty Free International Cruelty Free International is the lead campaigning organisation against animal testing in the UK, and their Leaping Bunny programme approves products. Find out more about Cruelty Free International here. Find out more about the Leaping Bunny programme here.
Dairy-deck fridge A fridge without a door - typically used in shops for chilled product such as soft drinks or sandwiches. These fridges are usually fitted with blinds that can be shut to help increase efficiency when the shop is closed.
Dairy-deck fridges See Dairy-deck fridge.
DEC A Display Energy Certificate (DEC) is an A3 sized certificate, valid for one year and accompanied by an advisory report valid for seven years. It rates a building's energy usage from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). A DEC must be displayed prominently at all times in public buildings.
Decolonisation Decolonisation challenges, resists, and dismantles ongoing colonialism imposed through Western powers. Decolonisation is tied to colonialism, but is inseparable from matters of imperialism, social
justice, capitalism, and White Supremacy. Decolonisation is a goal but it is not an endpoint. Decolonisation is political, but it is also economic (in the possession of resources), educational (in the imposition of knowledge), cultural (in the erasure of values, attitudes, language, and beliefs), and psychological (internalisation of
oppression). The goal of decolonisation is for colonised people to achieve sovereignty — the right and ability of colonised people to practice selfdetermination over their land, cultures, and political and economic systems. Definition taken from NUS' Divest to Decolonise Toolkit, which you can find here.
DEFRA The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Find out more about DEFRA here.
Diameter Diameter is the distance from one side of a circle to the other measured through the centre.
Disposable drinking vessels Drinking vessels that are designed for one use only. In bars, these are usually made of a clear plastic called polypropylene.
Divestment Divestment is the opposite of investment. It means withdrawing invested money from particular
holdings. In recent times, this often been due to ethical concerns about a company’s activities. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
Domestic air travel Defined as any domestic flights from a UK mainland airport to a UK mainland airport, excluding flights to or from Northern Ireland and any flights over 400 miles one way. For mileage calculations use the RAC route planner here.
Dry mixed recycling Whilst it may be convenient, many organisations put all their rubbish into one bin which contaminates recyclable materials and resigns millions of tonnes of waste to landfill each year. Up to 90% of this waste could be recycled into new products at a fraction of the cost, both financially and environmentally. instead, Dry mixed recycling allows the recycling of many types of waste by collecting them all together rather than segregating them. Provided it is not contaminated by other waste, especially food, it can be converted into reusable commodities.
Dual-flushing toilet A toilet with two flushing settings - half flush and full flush.
Dual-flushing toilets See Dual-flushing toilet
Duplex Printing on both sides of a sheet of paper.
Duplex print A printer that can print on both sides of a sheet of paper.
Duty of care A requirement that a person acts toward others and the public with watchfulness, attention, caution and prudence that a reasonable person in the circumstances would. If a person's actions do not meet this standard of care, then the acts are considered negligent, and any damages resulting may be claimed in a lawsuit for negligence.
Earth Hour Earth Hour is a global event organized by WWF and is held on the last Saturday of March annually, asking households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and other electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change. Find out more about Earth Hour here.
Eating well Eating well involves managing your diet to improve or maintain good health. Find more information on the NHS 'Eat Well' campaign here.
EAUC See Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education.
Eco Come Dine With Me A competition to put on the best sustainable lunch similar to Channel 4's 'Come Dine With Me' TV programme.
Ecological or plant-based detergents Cleaning products that are made from natural ingredients such as lemon juice.
Economic justice Economic justice is about making sure that the benefits of economic growth go to everyone, not just
those at the top of society. Everyone should not only be able to access to basic needs for survival, such as healthcare, food and housing, but should also be able to thrive. The economy should serve society, not the other way round. This means that the economy should be increasing the share of national income that goes to wages rather than profits, so that everyone prospers and no one gains excess wealth at the expense of others. This directly contrasts capitalist ideologies that claim that those at the top need to be disproportionately rewarded as ‘wealth creators’. Definition taken from NUS' Divest to Decolonise Toolkit, which you can find here.
Education for Sustainable Development Sustainability isn’t just doing the recycling properly. We need an education system which creates graduates who meet the challenges of the century ahead, not repeat the mistakes of the century behind us.

Education for Sustainable Development focuses on ensuring that graduates have the knowledge and understanding, skills, and attributes needed to contribute positively to social responsibility and sustainability by integrating it into their curriculum.
Efficient Technology List See Energy Technology List.
Efficient technology lists See Energy Technology List.
Electrical leakage The electric power consumed by electronic appliances while they are switched off or in a standby mode. Often caused by power adapters on computers or mobile phone chargers. Numerous devices can be used to reduce electrical leakage including the Intelliplug or Powerdown, Bye Bye Standby and seven day timer plugs. Find more information on other options here.
EMAS The EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is a voluntary industry standard that allows organisations to evaluate, report and improve their environmental performance. Following full implementation of the EMAS regulation, an independent verifier certifies compliance. The organisation then has to make specific environmental information publicly available. This last point is the main difference between EMAS and ISO 14001. Find more information on the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme here.
Employer-supported volunteering scheme Allows employees to spend a set number of days each year supporting a local charity during work time whilst on full pay.
EMS See Environmental Management System
Endowments A financial asset, in the form of a donation made to a non-profit group, institution or individual consisting of investment funds or other property that the donor may or may not have gifted with a stated purpose. Most are designed to keep the principal amount intact while using the investment income for organisational operation in line with charitable objectives. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
Energy champion An employee that actively champions energy efficiency within their department or the whole organisation.
Energy champions See Energy champion
Energy efficient bulb There are two main types of energy efficient light bulbs available in the UK. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).
Energy Saving Trust The Energy Saving Trust is a not-for-profit organisation that seeks to achieve the sustainable use of energy and cut carbon emissions. Find out more about the Energy Saving Trust here.
Energy Technology List The Energy Technology List is a government list of energy-efficient plant and machinery. Find out more about the Energy Technology List here.
Environmental aspect An element of an organisation's activities, products or services that can interact with the environment. An example would be a boiler producing carbon dioxide, or an event producing waste bar glass.
Environmental aspects See Environmental aspect
Environmental Assessment Process of estimating and evaluating significant short-term and long-term effects of a program or project on the quality of its location's environment. It also includes identifying ways to minimize, mitigate, or eliminate these effects and/or compensate for their impact. An environmental impact assessment is prepared on the basis of an EA. Also called environmental evaluation

Environmental impact Any change to the environment, whether adverse or beneficial, wholly or partially resulting from an organisation's environmental aspects. Using the examples under environmental aspects, above, an environmental impact of the boiler would be a contribution to global warming, whilst an environmental impact of the event producing waste bar glass might be the environmental problems associated with landfill.
Environmental impacts See Environmental impact
Environmental legislation Legislation relating to the protection of the natural environment. A full list of UK environmental legislation can be found here and environmental guidance for Northern Ireland & Scotland can be found here.
Environmental legislation - Air pollution The main instruments applicable to the UK are the Clean Air Act, Environmental Protection Act 1990, Environmental Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) Regulations 2002 SI 528, Ozone Depleting Substances (Qualifications) Regulations 2009 SI 216, The Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations 2009, Climate Change Act 2008, Climate Change Levy (General) Regulations 2001 SI 838 and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2007 SI 465.
Environmental legislation - Animals, plants and habitats The main instruments applicable to the UK are the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, Wildlife and Countryside (Amendment) Act 1991, Environment Act 1995, Conservation (Natural Habitats etc) Regulations 1994 SI 2716.
Environmental legislation - Contaminated land The main instruments applicable to the UK are the Environment Act 1995, Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Contaminated Land Regulations for each country.
Environmental legislation - Hazardous substances The main instruments applicable to the UK are the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, Pesticides Act 1998, Environmental Protection Act 1990, Environmental Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) Regulations 2002 SI 528, Fluorinated Greenhouse Gas Regulations 2009 SI 261, Ozone Depleting Substances (Qualifications) Regulations 2009 SI 216 and the Reach Enforcement Regulations 2008 SI 2852.
Environmental legislation - Noise The main instruments applicable to the UK are the Control of Pollution Act 1974 Part III (as amended), Environment Act 1995, Environmental Protection Act 1990, Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 and the Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993.
Environmental legislation - Solid waste The main instruments applicable to the UK are the Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989 c.14, Environmental Protection Act 1990, the Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations SI 1991/2839, Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 SI 507, Controlled Waste (Amendment) Regulations 1993 SI 566, Special Waste Amendment (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2004 SSI 204, Packaging (Essential Requirements) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 SI 1504, Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) Regulations 2008 SI 413, Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (Amendment) Regulations 2007 SI 3454, End-of-Life Vehicles (Producer Responsibility) Regulations 2005 SI 263, End-of-Life Vehicles Regulations 2003, SI 2635, and the Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009.
Environmental legislation - Water discharges The main instruments applicable to the UK are the Water Industry Act 1991, Environmental Liability (Scotland) Regulations 2009, Environmental Damage Regulations 2009 (England), Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) (Wales) Regulations 2009, Environmental Liability (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009 SR 252, Water Resources Act 1991, Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (England) Regulations 2001 SI 2954 and the Water Environment (Oil Storage) (Scotland) Regulations 2006 SSI 133.
Environmental Management System A formal, site specific, documented system which enables an organisation to manage the environmental aspects of its operation in a manner that is proactive, continuing and systematic. EMAS and ISO14001 are examples of accredited environmental management systems.
Environmental Management Systems See Environmental Management System.
Environmental performance The efficiency at which an organisation uses resources, such as electricity, gas and water. The more efficient an organisation, the better its environmental performance.
Environmental policy A written document that outlines the procedures and actions that an organisation, and all its employees, will implement in an attempt to reduce the organisations negative environmental impacts.
Environmental Social Governance (ESG) ESG describes a set of standards for a company’s operations that responsible investors use to screen potential investments. Used increasingly in the investment sector to generally describe ethical investment. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
Environmentally-friendly kettle Kettles that only boil the amount of water required. Find some examples here.
Environmentally-friendly kettles See Environmentally-friendly kettle.
Envirowise Envirowise offers UK businesses free, independent, confidential advice and support on practical ways to minimise waste and reduce environmental impact. Find out more about Envirowise here.
EPC An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) contains information about how much energy is used in a home or business premises, along with details of how much the energy used actually costs.
Ethical investment Values-led investment. Ethical investors are interested in generating financial return but not at any cost - investment opportunities must first meet a set of moral standards set by the investor. Ethical and responsible can be used interchangeably but have subtle differences. See ShareAction’s What’s in a definition? document here for more detail.
Ethical or environmental issue Ethical issues usually refer to the compromise of ethical values, such as infringements of rights, discrimination, unfair exploitation, or abuse. Examples of ethical issues include the use of 'sweatshop' working conditions in areas of low human development, the use of child labour, the testing of cosmetics on animals, etc. Environmental issues tend to relate to the damage of the local or global environment and the organisms that live within it. Examples of environmental issues include, global warming, deforestation of natural forests, oil spills, etc.
EU energy label By law, the EU energy label must be shown on all refrigeration and laundry appliances, dishwashers, electric ovens and light bulb packaging. The label rates the products from A (the most efficient/least energy used), down to G (the least efficient/most energy used). Find out more about the EU energy label here.
Expanded polystyrene Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is best known in its expanded form, as the white foamy product used for packaging and fast food containers.
Unexpanded polystyrene takes the form of a clear plastic, sometimes used for disposable drinking cups in water coolers.
F-gas See fluorinated gas
Fairtrade guarantees that a minimum price has been paid to the independent grower that has grown the product, or part of the product, displaying the Mark. A guaranteed price helps address the negative implications for small growers of fluctuating commodity prices on the world market, as well as preventing unscrupulous middle men from exploiting small growers. All Fairtrade products also carry a small social levy (known as a Fairtrade Premium) that allows growers to invest in their communities and businesses, contributing to sustainable livelihoods. Fairtrade products commonly available include tea, coffee, sugar, cocoa, fruit, wine and chocolate. Find more information on buying Fairtrade here.
Fairtrade Fortnight A two-week annual event that brings together consumers, retailers, producers and campaigners nationwide to promote awareness of Fairtrade products and campaign on issues of trade justice. It is usually held in February or March each year. Find out more about Fairtrade Fortnight here.
Fairtrade Foundation An independent non-profit organisation that promotes Fairtrade in the UK, as well as licences the use of the FAIRTRADE Mark. It also jointly runs the Fairtrade University & College Award with SOS-UK. Find more information here.
Fairtrade Universities and Colleges An SOS-UK and Fairtrade Foundation accreditation. To gain the accreditation, an education institution and its students' union need to be able to demonstrate that they meet 11 basic criteria that support Fairtrade, with many more optional criteria that can be completed. Find more information here.
False ceiling False ceilings usually comprise of a suspended metal framework covered with expanded polystyrene tiles, effectively lowering the ceiling. False ceilings are often installed in offices to bring lighting lower, and to reduce heating or air conditioning costs.
False ceilings See False ceiling
Feed in Tariff The Feed in Tariff (FITs) scheme guarantees a minimum payment for all electricity generated by the small scalre renewable energy system, as well as a separate payment for the electricity exported to grid. These payments are in addition to the bill savings made by using the electricity generated on-site.
Finance committee Finance committees are a group of internal representatives, from different stakeholders, and
external governors with specific expertise, whose main duty is to provide financial oversight for the institution. Usually there should be a student representative on this committee, likely to be the students’ union president. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
Finance return Money generated on an investment that is then the universities to spend. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
Fluorinated gas Fluorinated gases (F-gases) are man-made gases that can stay in the atmosphere for centuries and contribute to a global greenhouse effect. There are four types: hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3).
Food bank A place where stocks of food, typically basic provisions and non-perishable items, are supplied free of charge to people in need.
Food surplus Food surplus is edible food waste that can be redistributed to people, used as animal feed or in bio-based/biochemical processing. UK households waste 6.5 million tonnes of edible food each year. Ideally this food should not become surplus. Find out more about how to save food and reduce food surplus here. Also see Food waste.
Food waste Food waste can be edible or non-edible. We refer to edible food waste as Food surplus. Inedible food can include fruit and vegetable peelings, egg shells, fish discarded to sea, unharvested crops and drink/liquid waste. This food waste is likely to end up in anaerobic digestion, an incinerator, landfill, sewerage systems, ploughed back into fields, or composted. Composting is the ideal option as the nutrients are recycled and it can help reduce the need for harmful artificial fertilisers that are manufactured from petrol or natural gas.
Forestry Stewardship Council The Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent non-governmental organisation established to promote the responsible management of the world's forests. It provides standard setting, trademark assurance and accreditation services for companies and organisations interested in responsible forestry. Find out more about the Forestry Stewardship Council here.
Fossil Free People & Planet's Fossil Free campaign aimed at encouraging universities to pull their investments out of the fossil fuel industry. Find out more about the Fossil Free campaign here.
Fossil fuels Naturally occurring combustible resources such as crude oil, natural gas and coal. They are extracted through mining and drilling. When burnt, fossil fuels provide energy and carbon dioxide (a contributor to global warming). On a global perspective, the majority of the power stations currently run on fossil fuels. However, fossil fuels are finite, meaning that our reserves of them will eventually run out (see renewable energy). Fossil fuels cause serious environmental damage and direct negative consequences on local communities at every stage in their use: extraction, transportation, and consumption of the fuels.
Free range eggs Free range eggs are from hens that have continuous daytime access to outdoor runs. These chickens have higher welfare standards than barn and battery hens that are more intensively reared and do not have outdoor access, but have lower welfare and environmental standards compared to eggs from certified organic chickens. Also see Free range.
Free-range Free range is a label that confirms farm animals e.g. hens, pigs and dairy cows, have had continuous daytime access to outdoors. These animals have higher welfare standards than indoor bred animals that are more intensively reared and do not have any outdoor access. Other sustainable food links of interest may be Free range eggs, MSC, RSPCA Assured and certified organic.
Freedom Food See RSPCA Assured.
Fridge saver plug A fridge saver plug works on the basis that when a fridge is running, its compressor is not fully loaded all the time. The plug senses this and cuts out power to the motor in rapid short bursts without changing the operation of the fridge, saving considerable amounts of energy. Find more information here.
FSC See Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC).
GIPA See Green Impact Project Assistant.
Give it a Go A coordinated event, usually held at the beginning of the acacdemic year, giving students the opportunity to try out lots of different new activities without making any commitment to continue.
Global warming Greenhouse Gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, trap the Sun's heat in the upper atmosphere causing a warming of the Earth's atmosphere. Although this 'greenhouse effect' is a natural phenomenon, it is now widely accepted that this process is being sped up by humans, primarily as a result of the burning of fossil fuels, leading to an increase in the overall temperature of the atmosphere. As our atmosphere warms, it is predicted that global sea levels will rise (through thermal expansion and through the melting of polar ice) causing flooding, and changes to established weather patterns including more severe weather.
Global warming potential Global warming potential (GWP) measures the influence a greenhouse gas has upon the 'greenhouse effect'. Carbon dioxide has a GWP of 1 and all other greenhouse gases are measured against this. Other greenhouse gases have a much higher GWPs than carbon dioxide (e.g. methane has a GWP of around 21) but because their concentration in the atmosphere is much lower, carbon dioxide is still the most important greenhouse gas.
Good Money Week Good Money Week is the campaign to help grow and raise awareness of sustainable, responsible and ethical finance. The campaign consists of a week of events, organised by participating organisations, including conferences, debates and meetings. This is coordinated by UKSIF, a network of members working on sustainable finance in the UK, and sponsored by a range of financial service firms. It should be noted that many of these organisations are not meeting minimum climate standards, for example halting the funding of new fossil fuel infrastructure. Find out more about the Good Money Week campaign here.
Green Gown Award The Green Gown Awards recognise exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges across the UK. With sustainability moving up the agenda, the Awards have become established as the most prestigious recognition of best practice within the tertiary education sector. The awards are organised by the Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education. Find out more about the Green Gown Awards here.
Green Gown Awards See Green Gown Award
Green Impact Green Impact is a United Nations award-winning programme delivered by SOS-UK which is designed to support environmentally and socially sustainable practice within organisations. Green Impact has supported organisations since 2012 in engaging staff and students with sustainability. Through Green Impact, SOS-UK has worked with over 1,100 organisations from universities and students' unions to hospitals, to museums and city and county councils in embedding over 410,000 sustainability actions in places of work, living and study. Find out more about Green Impact here.
Green Impact Project Assistant Green Impact Project Assistants (GIPAs) are student volunteers trained to support a Green Impact team at their education institution with their Green Impact project/submission. GIPA's roles can vary depending on what each Green Impact team needs, but they can support with toolkit admin, creating resources and communication materials right through to encouraging other students and colleagues to join Green Impact and to take those first small steps towards making a big difference! Read about Holly (student at the University of York) and her experience of being a GIPA in 2019/20 here.
Greenhouse gas Natural greenhouse gases include: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, water vapour and ozone. There are also a range of man-made greenhouse gases including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which can be thousands of times better at absorbing heat than carbon dioxide (see global warming potential). Despite CFCs being banned because they were found to destroy the ozone layer they will remain in the atmosphere for at least another 50 years. Their replacements, HCFCs and HFCs, whilst being relatively harmless to the ozone layer, are equally potent greenhouse gases. The amounts of these gases are increasing in the atmosphere contributing to global warming.
Greenhouse gases See Greenhouse gas
Ground source heat Heat that is taken from the ground and used as a way of heating buildings. The deeper you go the warmer the soil and the more heat can be extracted.Find more information here.
Hazardous waste Some wastes are harmful to human health or to the environment, either immediately or over an extended period of time. These are called hazardous wastes. If your department produces hazardous waste you have a duty of care to make sure it's disposed of properly.
Hazardous wastes See Hazardous waste
HE Higher education (HE) primarily describes post-18 learning that takes place at universities, as well as other colleges and institutions that award academic degrees, professional qualifications and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) modules.
Heat exchange system A system that can be fitted to dairy-deck fridges to take the waste heat away from the units and dispose of it outside. You can often tell if a fridge is fitted with one by the presence of a insulated pipes leaving the fridge and going to a remote condensing unit outside. Fridges with heat exchange systems should not give out any heat in to the room from the back of the fridge.
HFC-free fridge HFC-free fridges are also labelled as 'CFC & HFC-Free', or 'hydrocarbon fridges'. They do not contain HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons), greenhouse gases with a global warming potential of around 3,200 times that of carbon dioxide.
High loading Some machinery uses the same amount of energy whether full or empty. A high loading means that it is full or almost full, which saves on energy rather than running the machine many times when almost empty. For example, dishwashers, drying ovens or autoclaves.
IEMA See Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment.
Impact investment Investments made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental
impact alongside a financial return. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
Imperialism Imperialism is a set of policies or practices that extend the power and control of one nation over the political, economic, and cultural life of other ones. Imperialism can be understood as the logic that drives
colonial projects - it is used to gain or maintain an empire. Definition taken from NUS' Divest to Decolonise Toolkit, which you can find here.
Instant water boiler See Zip hydroboils.
Instant water boilers See Instant water boiler
Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) is the largest professional body for environmental practitioners in the United Kingdom and worldwide, with nearly 15,000 members. SOS-UK Green Impact student environmental auditor training is accredited by IEMA. Find out more about IEMA here.
International Labour Organisation The UN specialised agency which seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally recognised human and labour rights. The ILO formulates international labour standards in the form of conventions that set minimum standards of basic labour rights, including:
-freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
-the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour;
-the effective abolition of child labour; and
-the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
Find out more about the International Labour Organisation here.
Investing in Volunteers Investing in Volunteers is the UK quality standard for all organisations which involve volunteers in their work. The Standard enables organisations to comprehensively review their volunteer management, and also publicly demonstrates their commitment to volunteering. Find out more about Investing in Volunteers here.
Investment committee An investment committee is the governing group within the university who are responsible for
the university’s investment activity. The committee will usually be comprised of both internal
and external members, with relevant expertise in finance and investment. Currently, it is
unusual for the university to have a specific student representative on this committee. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
Investment portfolio A collection of different investments held by an investor. A portfolio is normally designed to
obtain a target financial return whilst preserving the initial amount of money invested. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
Investors in People The Investors in People Standard is an accreditation for delivering business improvement through people. Find out more about Investors in People here.
ISO 14001 As with EMAS, ISO 14001 is a voluntary industry standard that provides a framework for organisations to manage their environmental issues. The standard focuses on organisational processes, and specifically how to manage and control a organisational system so that it continually improves the environmental aspects of its operations. ISO14001 differs from EMAS in that there is no requirement to make information publicly available.
ISO14001 See ISO 14001
Issues related to Responsible Futures ‘Issues related to Responsible Futures’ is the overarching phrase used throughout the toolkit to encompass all related topics, to ensure that the variations in language at individual institutions is included. This term includes, but is not limited to, the following: environmental sustainability, social responsibility (ethics, well-being, social justice, global citizenship, moral responsibility), social and environmental responsibility, education for sustainable development, and sustainability learning. Also see SRS.
Items suitable for creative play See Children's Resource Centres.
LCD monitor A Liquid Crystal Display monitor is a very thin TV-type screen that uses less energy than the equivalent CRT monitors. The technology was developed for laptop computers but is now the standard monitor supplier with new PCs.
LCD monitors See LCD monitor
LED bulbs LED or Light Emitting Diode bulbs are a new low-energy technology that have an excellent bulb life expectancy, typically over 50,000 hours. Not to be confused with plain LEDs which have a variety of uses and are often found in Students' Union nightclubs.
Lighting and equipment responsibility plan A written plan stating which individual is responsible for ensuring that specified lighting and electrical equipment is not left on unnecessarily. The plans are usually organised by building layout and cover all significant areas lit by artificial lighting (bars, shops, individual offices, washrooms, etc.), as well as electrical equipment that has a high energy consumption (air conditioning, ventilation equipment for bars, heating, CRT or cathode ray tube PC monitors, etc.).
Low carbon transition plan A plan that outlines what changes an organisation will put in place to enable them to function in
a low carbon society. This is often used in reference to an investment portfolio, moving from
reliance on high-carbon investments to low carbon. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
Mains voltage Mains voltage is the voltage that the electric power supply is delivered into homes and most businesses. In the UK this is around 240 volts (compared to 220 volts on the continent). Some appliances in homes and businesses run on low voltage, meaning that a small transformer on the plug or cabling reduces the voltage to around 20 volts so that if there is an electrical fault any electrical shock will not be life threatening. This is typically the case for items that are regularly handled, such as laptops, printers, and mobile phone chargers, and also lights in bathrooms where contact with water could create an electrical shock. Voltage transformers use energy consistently when they are plugged in to a switched on socket and are a major cause of electrical leakage.
Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) are a global organisation working with fisheries, seafood companies, scientists, conservation groups and the public to promote the best environmental choice in seafood. The MSC certification and ecolabelling program is for sustainable seafood. Look for the blue MSC ecolabel when shopping or dining out, or refer to the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide to understand which fish should be avoided and which are considered the most sustainable options. Find out more about the MSC here. Find out more about the MCS Good Fish Guide here.
Maximum demand Maximum demand (often referred to as MD) is the largest amount of power supplied to a building over a given time. If a Union was to switch on all of its lights and electrical appliances at the same time, it would create a high maximum demand. In a non-air conditioned building, the greatest maximum demand often occurs at 9am on a particularly cold winter Monday morning when staff switch on lights, supplementary electric heaters and boil the kettle. Depending on your electricity contract and tariff, the larger your maximum demand, the more you will pay for your available supply capacity.
Missing Maps Missing Maps is a project led by a collective of organisations working towards a common goal of creating accessible map data where humanitarian organizations are operating. Find out more about Missing Maps here.
Mixed paper There are several types of paper such as glossy magazines, newsprint, white office paper, and brown envelopes. Mixed paper refers to a combination of different paper types, rather than any one type.
Modern slavery The severe exploitation of other people for personal or commercial gain. Modern slavery is all around us, but often just out of sight. People can become entrapped making our clothes, serving our food, picking our crops, working in factories, or working in houses as cooks, cleaners or nannies. Find more information on modern slavery here.
MSC See Marine Stewardship Council.
Mulching Mulching is the process of using materials to cover the soil’s surface, including bark chippings, leaf mould, well-rotted farmyard manure or crushed shells to provide nutrients for plants, lock in moisture, form a barrier against weeds and can help to insulate the roots of vulnerable plants from winter cold.
NAPM This certification is no longer in operation. See PEFC.
National Association of Paper Merchants (NAPM) This certification is no longer in operation. See PEFC.
Natural pot plant See pot plant.
NUS The National Union of Students of the United Kingdom. Find out more about NUS here.
Occupancy sensor Sensors that detect movement. Occupancy sensors (also known as motion sensors) are often used to ensure that lighting in communal areas only comes on when it is needed.
Occupancy sensors See Occupancy sensor.
Organic Food can only be labelled as organic if at least 95% of the ingredients are organic and all other ingredients are permitted within organic regulations. Producers of organic products must be registered with one of the UK organic control bodies in order to be certified. See Certified organic.
Organic certification See Certified organic.
Organic foods See Organic and Certified organic.
Ozone See Ozone layer.
Ozone layer The ozone layer in the stratosphere blocks out the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Depletion of the ozone layer is being caused by emissions of man-made chemicals containing chlorine and bromine, specifically chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), carbon tetrachloride, 1,1,1 trichloroethane, halons and methyl bromide. As a result, holes in the layer have appeared over polar regions.
Partnership The Partnership is the collaboration between the institution (college or university) and their respective students’ union.
Patio heater Any type of gas or electric heater or heating system that is used to provide heat in a non-enclosed outdoor space. Heaters using 100% waste heat through a heat exchanger are not classed as patio heaters.
Patio heaters See Patio heater
PEFC See Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.
Pension fund Big funds that pool together pension contributions made by individuals and their employers, and
then invest it on their behalf. The money is accessed by individuals (workers) after they retire.
For example, USS (Universities Superannuation Scheme), is a major pension fund for academic
staff of universities. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
People & Planet People & Planet is the largest student network in Britain campaigning to alleviate world poverty, defend human rights and protect the environment. The People & Planet network consists of groups at universities and colleges; sixth form groups; individual campaigners; and a support office. Find out more about People & Planet here.
People and Planet See People & Planet.
Percussion taps The flow of water from a percussion tap is activated by pressing down on the top of the tap. Once the tap has been activated, water flows for a set period of time, after which it will automatically shut off.
PET PET or Polyethylene terephthalate is a clear, strong plastic that is commonly used for soft drink, water and beer bottles. It can be identified by polymer identification code number 1 (see picture). Find more information on plastics recycling see here.
PIR system A passive infrared (PIR) sensor is an electronic sensor that measures infrared light radiating from objects in its field of view. It can detect movement of people in a room to automatically activate a lighting system when there are people present.
Planogram A planogram is a diagram of fixtures and products that illustrates how and where retail products should be displayed, usually on a store shelf in order to increase customer purchases. Planograms are available to members of the Retail Opt-In Group.
Poly-wrap Poly-wrap is the clear material often used as an alternative to envelopes.
Pool bike system A workplace pool bike system provides bikes, which are well-maintained and safe to ride, and safety equipment for employees to use. Pool bikes can be offered to employees for any kind of journey, but are typically used for work related trips, such as local meetings, travel between sites and visiting clients. Generally pool bikes are kept in a central location and can be booked out by any staff member who is competent to cycle safely on public roads.
Portfolio diversification Holding a range of different investments in a portfolio to reduce risk and avoid ‘putting all their
eggs in one basket’. A diversified portfolio might suffer a loss in one of its investments, but gain
on other investments, thus becoming less volatile on average. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
Poster Fatigue Poster Fatigue occurs when posters start to blend into the background and thus lose their effectiveness.
Pot plant Defined as all the plants growing in a single pot or container. Many plants are grown in peat. Alongside the loss of habitats, the harvesting of peat is unsustainable and unrenewable. Find information about peat-free alternatives here.
Pot plants See pot plant.
Power-saving mode A setting that causes a computer (or other electrical equipment) to enter a low energy use mode after a set period of time. Computers with a Windows operating system usually have the settings for power saving modes alongside the screensaver options, accessed by right mouse clicking on the desktop.
Primary research Primary research is new research, carried out by the union (or partners in the institution) to answer specific issues or questions. It can involve questionnaires, surveys or interviews with individuals or small groups. This is defined as opposed to secondary research which makes use of information previously researched for other purposes and/or that which is publicly available.
Pro-environmental behaviour change project A behaviour change project supports a step change in behaviours that can be measured, using a baseline from before the project starts and monitoring through out - i.e. using electricity meter data to measure a reduction in electricity use in a building as a result of a project designed to raise awareness of energy saving actions that changes building user activity over time.
Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is an international non-profit, non-governmental organisation dedicated to promoting Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) through independent third-party certification. PEFC UK was established in 2000 and is the member of PEFC International. PEFC International is an umbrella organisation that endorses national forest certification systems developed through multi-stakeholder processes and tailored to local priorities and conditions. PEFC works throughout the entire forest supply chain to promote good practice in the forest and to ensure that timber and non-timber forest products are produced with respect for the highest ecological, social and ethical standards. Thanks to its eco-label, customers and consumers are able to identify products from sustainably managed forests. Find out more about PEFC here.
Public and private markets As simple as it sounds - anything on the public market is open to all investors, and can be brought and sold by those investors. By contrast private market investments are not open to all, may have restrictions on who can invest, and tend to be more specific. For example, an investment in Shell is on the public market, but an investment directly funding a local business is on the private market. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
Rainforest Alliance The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behaviour. Those businesses that meet the standards for their field earn access to the Rainforest Alliance family of marks, which distinguish their products and services in the marketplace. As little as 30% of some products can be produced to Rainforest Alliance standards but still gain the accreditation. Rainforest Alliance is not a Fairtrade label and tends to be used by large businesses. Find out more about the Rainforest Alliance here.
Rainwater harvesting Rainwater harvesting allows you to capture the rain in a water butt or other device to use for your garden or other activities. This is a more environmentally friendly way of sourcing water as it is naturally transported to you and requires no energy for extraction.
Red Tractor The Red Tractor scheme certifies the food was produced in Britain and to certain quality standards for food safety, hygiene, and the environment, and reflects standard industry practice in the UK. The mark is licensed by Assured Food Standards, a British organisation that promotes and regulates food quality. Find out more about the Red Tractor mark here. For higher standards see Certified organic, Free range, Free range eggs, and RSPCA Assured.
Renewable energy Renewable energy is energy that is derived from an inexhaustible (wind, sun, sea) or replaceable (waste products, crops) source.
Reporting period A reporting period should cover a complete calendar year. For the purposes of the Green Impact Students' Unions the start date of the reporting period does not matter. i.e. It doesn't matter whether it is from June to June or January to January, so long as it is a full calendar year.
Responsible Futures Responsible Futures is NUS and SOS-UK's externally-assessed accreditation mark to assist all institutions in helping students to gain the skills and experience they need to thrive as global citizens. Find out more about Responsible Futures here.
Responsible investment Responsible investment is an approach to investment that explicitly acknowledges the relevance
to the investor of environmental, social and governance factors, and of the long-term health and
stability of the market as a whole. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
Restricted funds Funds given to the university with a specific purpose and can therefore only be spend on related
activity. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
Retail Opt-in Group Retail Opt-In Group is a student focused promotional programme available through NUS Services. It is designed to support Unions who want to develop their retail outlets and compete effectively with the high-street. Members of Retail Opt-In Group have access to a number of industry standard retail activities which are proven to drive footfall, increase sales, encourage loyalty and maximise profitability.
Return to supplier Some companies offer 'return to supplier' schemes for old equipment (primarily WEEE), where they take back to old equipment when they deliver new equipment. Often it is recycled or reused for parts. Similar options are also often available for packaging, where the supplier will take back unwanted packaging after delivery of a piece of equipment. Also known as a take back scheme. The government now has a WEEE Distributor Take back Scheme (DTS) that companies can join instead of taking the waste back themselves. Find out more about the WEEE DTS here.
Reusable plastic drinking vessels Plastic drinking vessels that are manufactured from toughened unexpanded polystyrene. They are shatterproof, have thick walled construction for durability, reinforced rims and bases and are usually dishwasher safe to withstand in excess of 100 cycles at 100oC.
Reuse scheme Any charitable or community project that makes use of items that would otherwise go to waste. Examples include Better World Books, Children's Resource Centre, Community Repaint and Computer Aid.
Roller towels A towel with the ends sewn together, hung on a roller. These are provided and serviced by a number of national organisations, such as PHS.
RSPCA Assured (formerly Freedom Food) RSPCA Assured, previously Freedom Food, is the RSPCA’s ethical food label dedicated to farm animal welfare. This label makes it easy to recognise products from animals that have been reared and treated according to the RSPCA's animal welfare standards. The scheme covers both indoor and outdoor rearing systems. Also see Certified organic, Free range and Free range eggs.
School Switch Off Inter-school energy saving competition.
Scope 3 Emissions Are indirect emissions, such as the extraction and production of purchased materials and fuels, or transport-related activities.
Screen printed See Screen printing.
Screen printing Screen printing is the process of transferring a stencilled design onto a flat surface using a mesh screen, ink and a squeegee. Screen printing is often used to print logos or motifs onto clothing.
Seasonal produce Growing fruit and vegetables in season requires lower levels of artificial inputs like heating, lighting, pesticides and fertilisers than at other times of the year. Therefore, as long as it is also local, seasonable produce has a lower environmental impact than out of season produce. Find more information on eating seasonally here.
Separately metered A building or unit that has its own metered supply. This can be for electricity, gas or water.
Seven-day timer plug Timer plugs can be programmed to switch the power supply to appliances on and off at set times. Seven-day digital timer plugs, such as the Timeguard ETU17, are particularly useful for switching off office appliances that are not needed overnight and at weekends, such as tea urns and laser printers. The plugs have battery back-up for power cuts. It is best practice to set the plugs to come on at least an hour before required, and to go off at least an hour later than required so that you do not have to reset them when the clocks go forward or backwards.
Seven-day timer plugs See Seven-day timer plug.
Shareholder resolution A proposal submitted by the shareholders of a company to be voted on at the annual general
meeting (AGM), directing the board to take some form of action. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
Shares Represent exactly what their name suggests: percentage ownership of a company, its assets and, above all, its cash flow. You are one of the owners of the company, with all the rights, opportunities – and risks – this brings. Also called equity and stocks. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
Skype A telecommunications platform which allows you to make free calls from your computer to other people on Skype. Find out more about SKype here.
Slow Food Slow Food is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.
SMART action plan A written action plan that contains targets that are specific, measurable, achievable, resourced and timed.
Smart meter A smart meter is an advanced meter (usually an electrical meter) that records consumption in intervals of an hour or less and reports or communicates the information.
Smart meters See Smart meter
SMART targets Targets that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Resourced and Timed.
Solar gain Solar gain (also known as solar heat gain or passive solar gain) refers to the increase in temperature in a space, object or structure that results from solar radiation. In summer, solar gain resulting from light coming in through the window may mean air conditioning has to work harder to maintain a cooler temperature.
SOS-UK Students Organising for Sustainability UK (SOS-UK) is a student-led education charity created by students and staff at NUS in 2019 in response to the climate emergency and ecological crisis. out more about SOS-UK here.
SOS-UK consultancy SOS-UK offers a range of services and solutions to help drive sustainability through organisations, including:
-Training, workshops and events.
-Audits, assessments, consultation, evaluation and research.
-Development, delivery and mentoring.
Find more information here.
SOS-UK Learning Academy SOS-UK offer a range of learning opportunities and events to support sustainability action across the education sector, and beyond. Find more information here.
Split air conditioning The most common residential split-system air conditioner is an air conditioning unit made up of two units — an outside unit, the compressor, and an inside air outlet unit, usually referred to as the “wall hung head unit”. The two units are connected by pipes that carry refrigerant. It can be used for cooling or heating. Find more information here.
Split air-conditioning See split air conditioning.
Split system air conditioning See split air conditioning.
Split system air-conditioning See split air conditioning.
Spray heads A shower-type tap head. These are especially useful for Unions with high water pressure as they reduce the volume of water let through taps (also see percussion taps). Spray heads might not be suitable for Unions that have problems with lime scale deposits caused by hard water.
SRS SRS stands for Social Responsibility and Sustainability. We use it when we talk about the SRS issues (e.g. climate change, poverty, Fairtrade, etc.), rather than the educational issues relating to them (education for sustainable development, etc.), which we typically cover with the phrase 'issues related to Responsible Futures'.
Student Eats Student Eats was a project led by NUS and SOS-UK and delivered in partnership with the Soil Association and Sustain between 2016 and 2021. It supported the creation of 65 new student-led social enterprises to sell sustainable food on university and college campuses across the UK. Find more information on the impact of the project here.
Student Switch Off Student Switch Off is a campaign that forms part of SOS-UK's sustainability engagement work in student halls of residence. Find participating universities here. Find out more about SOS-UK's sustainability engagement work in halls of residences here.
Sustainability When we refer to sustainability, we mean holistic sustainability which incorporates society, environment and the economy co-existing in a just, safe and long-lasting way.

Social responsibility is not separate to sustainability, but embedded within it.

Sustainability is inclusive of social, environmental and climate justice.
Sustainability champion A sustainability champion is an employee that actively champions sustainability within their department or the whole organisation.
Sustainability Skills Survey Each year NUS and SOS-UK ask students about their attitudes towards learning for sustainable development. We know that students care about sustainability. We see it from the actions thousands are taking on their campuses and in their communities. This research found that approximately 80 per cent of students want their institution to be doing more on sustainable development. We’ve conducted this research since 2010-11, and these results have remained constant; despite changes such as the rise in fees, and the crash of the jobs market, the demand for action by their institutions and desire to learn about sustainability has remained constant. Find more information here.
Sustainable Development Goals The UN Sustainable Development Goals or Global Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all". The SDGs were set up in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and are intended to be achieved by 2030.
Sustainable food Sustainable food is food that is produced, processed, distributed and disposed of in ways that avoid damaging or wasting natural resources and do not contribute to climate change or the nature crisis, but do contribute to thriving local economies and provide everyone with safe and nutrient-dense food. Sustainable food should also positively contribute to food justice and land justice. Food certification schemes can help you identify food products that are more sustainable (e.g. Certified organic, LEAF, Free range, Free range eggs, RSPCA Assured, Marine Stewardship Council). Find advice on what foods are in season at what times here. Find out more about food justice, land justice and food sovereignty here. Find out about 8 actions institutions can take and 15 actions students can take in SOS-UK’s Sustainable Food Guide here.
Sustainable Food Guide Find out about 8 actions institutions can take and 15 actions students can take in SOS-UK’s Sustainable Food Guide here.
T12 tubes T12 tubes are the most inefficient type of fluorescent tube and are noticeably thicker than T8 tubes. Although they come in various different lengths, they all have a diameter of 38mm.
T5 tubes The 'T' number refers to the diameter of the tube. The lower the 'T' number, the more modern and efficient the tube is. T5 is simply a collective term for 16mm diameter fluorescent light tubes. T5 tubes are the most efficient light tubes currently available for office lighting (there are T2 tubes available, but these are not used for office lighting), and are not very common yet. T5 tubes are noticeably thinner than T8 tubes.
T8 tubes T8 tubes are the most common fluorescent tube in use in Students' Unions. Although they come in various different lengths, they all have a diameter of 26mm (1 inch). T8 fluorescent tubes typically provide 40% energy savings with no loss of light over T12 tubes.
Take back scheme Similar to a return to supplier scheme for packaging. The government has a Distributor Take back Scheme (DTS) that companies can join instead of taking the waste back themselves.
Teleconference A teleconference is a phone call comprising three or more participants on separate lines. You do not need a special phone to join a teleconference, you just need to dial a pre-arranged number also given to other participants.
Teleconferencing See Teleconference.
The Age of Stupid The Age of Stupid is a drama-documentary-animation hybrid in which Pete Postlethwaite stars as an old man living in the devastated world of 2055, watching ‘archive' footage from 2008 and asking: why didn't we stop climate change while we had the chance? Find more information here and here.
Thermostatic radiator valve A thermostatic radiator valve (TRV) is usually located on the pipe work at the top or bottom of your radiator. It gives you greater control over the heat from each individual radiator. Each TRV can be set to a temperature to suit you, so you can have different temperatures in different rooms. If one room warms up quickly (such as if the sun is shining in to the room), the TRV will reduce the flow of hot water to the radiator and prevent the room from being overheated.
Thermostatic radiator valves See Thermostatic radiator valve.
Timer plugs Timer plugs can be programmed to switch the power supply to appliances on and off at set times. Seven-day digital timer plugs, such as the Timeguard ETU17, are particularly useful for switching off office appliances that are not needed overnight and at weekends, such as tea urns and laser printers. They can also be used to switch off bottle chillers in bars that are used only occasionally, but are used on the same evenings on a regular basis. The plugs have battery back-up for power cuts. It is best practice to set the plugs to come on at least an hour before required, and to go off at least an hour later than required so that you do not have to reset them when the clocks go forward or backwards.
Travel Plan A travel plan is a package of actions designed by a workplace, school or other organisation to encourage safe, healthy and sustainable travel options. By reducing car travel, Travel Plans can improve health and wellbeing, free up carparking space, and make a positive contribution to the community and the environment.
TRV See Thermostatic radiator valve
Tube adaptor A small adaptor fitting that allows you to fit an efficient thin T5 tube into an existing wider T8 or T12 fitting. An example of a British manufacturer selling tube adaptors can be found here.
Tungsten filament bulbs An electric light in which a filament is heated to incandescence by an electric current. Tungsten filament bulbs are much less efficient than compact fluorescent bulbs. Halogen downlights/spotlights are a type of tungsten filament bulb.
UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association The UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) is membership organisation of financial services firms looking to expand, enhance and promote sustainable finance and investment. Members are supported to move further and faster to ensure a sustainable and responsible financial system. However, it should be noted that there are no requirements of members to take action or make commitments, any organisation can join UKSIF as long as they can pay the membership fees. Find out more about UKSIF here.
UKSIF See UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association.
Unbreakable plastic drinking vessels Plastic drinking vessels that are manufactured from polycarbonate to withstand in excess of 500 uses. These include all of the features of the re-usable plastic drinking vessels with the added benefit of withstanding in excess of 300 dishwasher cycles.
University Council (/Court) This is the governing body of the University, responsible for responsible for all financial matters,
the buildings and the appointment of the vice-chancellor. The group is made up of external
members, with relevant expertise and some internal representatives, such as students’ union
presidents and staff representation. Definition taken from SOS-UK's Invest For Change guide, which you can find here.
Unregulated urinals Urinals that flush at a regular interval regardless of whether the urinal has been used. Unregulated urinals waste significant volumes of water by flushing unnecessarily.
Upcycling Upcycling is taking the act of taking something no longer in use and it a second function and a new lease of life.
Vegetable-based inks Some of the pigments used in ink contain metallic substances, such as cadmium, lead and mercury, which are harmful to the environment. Conventional printing inks are petroleum-based used with alcohol-based solvents leading to the release of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). VOCs are an atmospheric pollutant reacting with nitrogen oxides to create ozone pollution and smog. Vegetable-based inks are made from plant products and have lower rates of VOC emissions, are biodegradable and are easier to remove from paper for recycling.
Vehicle Excise Duty band All new cars are classed in one of six bands based on their fuel efficiency (bands A to F, with A being the most fuel efficient). Find more information on Vehicle Excise Duty here.
Vehicle Excise Duty bands See Vehicle Excise Duty band
Video-conference A video conference is a televised meeting held over two locations. Each meeting site has a video camera and a large TV screen so that each party can see the participants from the other site. You need special video-conference facilities to hold a video-conference. A cheap version of video-conferencing is using webcams and Skype, but this is only really suitable for meetings with a small number of participants.
Video-conferencing See Video-conference
Voltage optimisation A term used to describe the reduction of voltage. The lower the voltage the dimmer your tungsten filament bulbs and the slower your electric motors will run, therefore saving energy. Voltage can be reduced in two ways. If your voltage is in excess of 240v and you are supplied through a dedicated transformer you may be able to get your energy supplier to tap down your transformer to 240v. Alternatively you can fit a voltage optimiser to your input cable - such as a Powerperfector - and reduce it down as far as you want (216v is a recommended level) although these typically cost around £10,000.
Walking Routes OutdoorActive and Ordnance Survey provide you with details of useful walking routes.
Waste electrical and electronic equipment WEEE stands for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment. In 2006 the government introduced regulations surrounding this items to ensure that producers are required to take financial responsibility for the environmental impact of products they place on the market, especially when
those products become waste. Find more information here.
Waste hierarchy The waste hierarchy states that it is better to reduce than reuse, to reuse than recycle, to recycle than to dispose.
Waste office paper Office paper that has been separated to ensure that it is only good quality white paper - such as copier paper, letter paper, etc. Other paper types, such as glossy magazines, newsprint and brown envelopes have been segregated.
Waste transfer note A waste transfer note is a document which must be completed and accompany any transfer of waste between different holders.
Waste transfer notes See Waste transfer note
Wastes A waste is any substance which constitutes a scrap material or an effluent or other unwanted surplus substance arising from the application of any process. There are four categories of waste: Directive Waste; Controlled waste; Special waste; and Hazardous Waste. Also see Food waste.
Water Efficient Enhanced Capital Allowances The Government's Water Efficient Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme provides a 100 per cent first year allowance for some water efficient technologies. Find out more about Water Efficient ECA here.
Water saving device Flow restrictors are devices that restrict the flushing of cisterns. Flush control valves ensure that urinal cisterns are only topped up when hand basins are used, meaning that flush frequency is proportional to use. Find options from Cistermiser here.
Water saving devices See Water saving device
Water saving valve Water saving valves can cut water flow by 70%, and will have associated heat savings for hot water. They are especially useful for Unions with high water pressure. The CP961 water saving valve is produced by Cottam and Preedy. Find more information here.
Water saving valves See Water saving valve.
Waterless offset printed See waterless offset printing.
Waterless offset printing A printing technology that does not use a fountain solution, thus not using the vast quantities of water used in conventional printing. Find more information here.
Waterless urinal A special fluid is held in the trap of the urinal that allows urine to pass through but continuously seals the drainage from the atmosphere, preventing any odours from emerging. The absence of water flushing saves substantial volumes of water.
Waterless urinals See Waterless urinal
WEEE See Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment.
Whole lifecycle costing A method of determining the costs associated with a given product over the expected lifecycle of that product. Whole lifecycle costing is especially useful in justifying investment in high efficiency or high quality technology. The method can include examining any direct running costs, indirect costs, administration costs, and costs of disposal. Find more information here.
Whole lifecycle costings See Whole lifecycle costing.
Workers Rights Consortium The Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) is an independent, labour rights monitoring organization. It conducts investigations of working conditions in factories around the globe. They aim to combat sweatshops and protect the rights of workers who make apparel and other products. Find out more about the Worker Rights Consortium here.
World Wildlife Fund The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is a prominent conservation organisation. Find out more about WWF here.
Wormery A Wormery is a plastic or wooden container that contains composting worms. A compost worm differs from a normal garden worm in that it eats and lives on the decaying foods on the surface, whereas a garden worm burrows deep into the ground. Find out if your local council subsidies wormeries here.
WWF See World Wildlife Fund.
Zip Hydroboil Zip Hydroboil is a type of water heater that boils on demand. Find out more about Zip Hydroboil here.
Zip Hydroboils See Zip Hydroboil.
Zooniverse Zooniverse is the world’s largest and most popular platform for people-powered research. This research is made possible by volunteers — more than a million people around the world who come together to assist professional researchers. Their goal is to enable research that would not be possible, or practical, otherwise. Find out more about Zooniverse here.