Student Switch Off is a not-for-profit campaign that encourages students to save energy whilst living in university halls of residence. Student Switch Off+ focuses on students who live in the private rented sector, helping them make informed choices when choosing and living in their accommodation, that not only saves energy but also saves them money. In 2012 the campaign won a prestigious Ashden Award – considered the Oscars of the energy-saving world!
As with many offices, schools and hotel rooms, there is generally no financial incentive for students in halls to use energy carefully. Student Switch Off uses prize incentives such as Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, discount cards and communal events as well as focus on peer-to-peer communication and creating a sense of competition to provide incentives that go beyond just being more ‘environmentally friendly’. Last academic year (2017/18) the Student Switch Off campaign achieved a 6.8% reduction in electricity usage on average across all the participating universities – keeping over 1,000 tonnes of CO2 out of the atmosphere.
It’s very important to us that our campaign reaches beyond keen environmentalists. We aim to get even people with little prior interest or knowledge in energy and climate change involved through making the campaign appealing and fun. We hope that Student Switch Off is an entry-point for continued engagement in environmental and social justice issues.
While we recognise that switching things off isn’t the solution to climate change on its own, we think saving energy is a good building block and the actions that we encourage students to adopt will save them money on their bills when they move into private accommodation.
Student Switch Off is part of NUS Charitable Services. NUS champions students to shape education, and create a fairer and more prosperous society for everyone. Sustainability is a huge part of that.
We know that 80 per cent of students want their institution to be doing more on sustainability, and 60 per cent want to learn more about it. Despite the rise in tuition fees and the crash in the jobs market, these figures have stayed the same. This is an issue which students deeply care about. Working across campuses, curriculums and communities, NUS helps all students to leave their time in education as part of the solution to our social, economic and environmental problems.
Student Switch Off is just one of NUS’s award winning behaviour change and institutional reform programmes. You can read more about NUS’s sustainability work here.
This year we are partnering with Friends of Glass who are supporting us to run some additional photo competitions and engagement activities to raise awareness of glass recycling among student audiences. Glass can sometimes be a bit tricky to recycle on campus, however it’s endlessly recyclable and made from natural materials so has lots of environmental benefits for our oceans and wildlife in comparison to plastic products. Further information can be found on participating university pages, or students can find further information here.
We’re hugely grateful to a number of organisations for getting us where we are today – Ben & Jerry’s for supporting us from the start and Carbon Leapfrog (especially Bird & Bird, Andrew Woods and Garry Charnock) for securing us free legal and accountancy advice when we first started up as a not-for-profit.
We are also very thankful to the European Commission for helping us expand the Student Switch Off and Student Switch Off+ campaigns to 7 other European countries through our SAVES and SAVES 2 projects.