School of Medicine sustainability activities

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We hope you will be interested to see in our regular newsletter how sustainability is improving across the school. We welcome input, thoughts and suggestions, send to

Medical School membership of IMECCS

The Sustainability Committee are pleased to announce that we are now a member of the International Medical Education Collaboration on Climate and Sustainability (IMECCS) via the University of Southampton, who lead the UK in this collaboration.

This allows us access to the IMECCS Resource Bank. One just registers using the university email address. Once registered a number of PowerPoint presentations are available to download on Health and the Climate.

IMECCS mission is to empower healthcare students and faculty members worldwide to integrate climate and sustainability education into their curricula. We will do this by creating open source educational content and guides for implementation.

Sustainability Week 27 – 29 November 2023

Sustainability week was opened by the Dean on 27 November in the new ‘Sustainability Corridor’.

The 3 days were a great success, with stands on air pollution, biodiversity, plants, and information on activities in the Medical School and Life Sciences. Thanks to all who attended.

Sustainability corridor and book nook in Medical School

The new sustainability corridor was opened on 27 November by the Dean of School of Medicine, Rory McCrimmon. In addition to displaying the University of Dundee/United Nations Sustainability Goals, there is a wide-screen TV with all our sustainability news.

Below, in the Ian Lowe Centre, we now have the 'book nook', a sustainable way to use books. "Bring a book, take a book, or just read a book in the nook"

Growing things

We have had a successful free plant day, with another planned. The student reception area now has a plant wall, and a bid is going in for an internal tree for the café. Students are volunteering in the Ninewells Garden, and external University areas have been planted with Wildflowers 

My Green Lab - Freezer Challenge

The School of Medicine are planning on taking part in the My Green Lab Freezer Challenge 2023. Ultra- low  (ULT) temperature freezers are one of the most energy-intensive pieces of equipment found in labs. A solitary freezer running at -70°C instead of -80°C can produce 30% energy savings. This equates to around financial savings of £300 annually.

Therefore to try and improve the energy consumption especially by these ULT Freezers we wish labs to undertake a few tasks, some such as changing the freezer setting from -80c to -70c are very straight forward, other tasks involve a little more input. These will include: -Inventory of  freezer contents, removing/ destroying old samples/ reagents etc., removing ice build-up & or preferably defrosting freezers.

Each lab group will be given a set of tasks under the headings good management practices, temperature tuning, retirements and upgrades, sharing and room temperature sample storage. A representative of the SOM Sustainability Group will guide you through this process. Each group with then individually answer questions associated with these tasks, please see examples below. The answers will them all be combined for the whole school and submitted to the international My Green Lab Freezer Challenge 2023.

Logo for the My Green Lab Freezer Challenge

Access to water fountains - Plastic bottles no more!

You may have noticed that we now have 3 water fountains placed in each of level 6 and 7 lab block, and two in the student area on levels 7 and 8. We have significantly reduced our plastic waste by removing the big plastic water containers. We are currently recycling two water fountains from the Mackenzie building to be placed on level 5 lab block and in the blue lino student area. #StopPlasticWaste

A metal drinking fountain against a white wall

Students for trees - Come help plant November 2023

As global temperatures continue to rise, we need to use every tool available to fightback against climate change. One of the greatest weapons we have is trees. Trees are fantastic for absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and protecting nature and wildlife from the adverse impacts of climate change, and we need more of them!

The Woodland Trust are organising a big planting season over November 2023, where student communities across the UK will be planting trees to help combat climate change. With the Ninewells Garden we have applied for a 30 sapling pack will cover around one tennis court, or create 6-8 metres of double-row hedging. We will be looking for staff to help with our ‘medical student planting weekend’ in November. More info to follow nearer the time.

Silhouette of trees beside a lake or loch in autumn or winter time

Switch on to switching off!

Do your colleagues remember to switch off lights, computers etc? Are there key pieces of equipment that must not be switched off by over-enthusiastic sustainers? Help save energy, and protect your equipment, with labels available from Trudy on Email and request the sticky labels you need, stating the number you require and your postal address. Trudy will send you these through internal mail.

A set of labels advertising sustainability initiatives

Art on display

As we continue our refurbishment across the Ninewells Campus, three new pieces of art are currently on display. These pieces all have one thing in common, Sustainability and Nature.

One piece is from award winning Dundee artist Katie Parkin with one of her pieces on display in the CRC reception area. The piece Auchmithie retinoates from her work exploring the geology of Scotland's coast through tactile natural materials such as ground rock from the cliffs together with charcoal as she investigates the rock formations, drawing attention to their variation and beauty while highlighting how erosion will change this coastline as sea levels continue to rise. As the School and the wider society becomes more aware of our footprint on the environment, Katie utilises mediums drawing and lithography to challenge the perception of nature as an untouched Eden.

Charcoal drawing of a cliff face

Plants for work

Having a growing plant in your room at work provides a pleasant ambiance, and is ‘said’ to reduce stress. This article probably wouldn’t be returned in REF but we do believe plants are great to have in the office.

Seven benefits of having plants in your office

On Wednesday 3 May there will be FREE plants available on Level 7 for anybody to have.

If you have plants at home, and wish to contribute, please take a cutting and grow it up and bring it along on that day. Exact venue will be posted nearer the day. This picture shows a Spider Plant & according to some “it is an antioxidant as it effectively removes ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde and xylene. The plant is extremely easy to grow and quickly improves air quality. A study found that within just two days, the plant removed up to 90% of the toxins found in indoor air.”

Well, no peer reviewed paper to confirm this, but there will be plenty to pick up and take away on the day.

Close up of Christmas Cactus flowerheads

Community engagement

Part of our submission for the Planetary Health Report Card involves Community Engagement. It is important as an institution that we directly engage with our communities. We will assess and support our engagement within the community of the whole of Tayside, in terms of Planetary Health, and encourage lecture, papers and podcasts for such activities. Contact us if you have any ideas and wish to get involved with this aspect.

People browse a collection of plants for sale arranged on a table at Dundee Botanic Gardens

Sustainable waste

Sustainable Waste – Working with our colleagues in NHS Tayside we are now setting the ambitious target of achieving a recycling rate of 80% and are also working with our waste contractors to set targets to reduce our total waste output.

Eden wildflower meadow

The planned Eden wildflower meadow is going to be planted at the front of the Medical School library building on Monday 15 May 2023 from 10:00 - 12:00 weather permitting. This will be a community sowing event so there will be information sent out over the next week to invite staff, students and the community to get involved. The larger meadow at the back of the hospital will be planted in September.

A wildflower meadow

Coffee pod recycling 

Members of staff may have noticed Nespresso, Dolce Gusto, Tassimo, or similar coffee machines in and around our offices. Staff who use these machines should be aware the pods are fully recyclable, can be collected in free bags, and returned for recycling using a freepost label. Podback is a coffee pod recycling service, designed to make recycling coffee pods easy.

A collection of used coffee pods in various different colours

Undergraduate Teaching

Objectives: To embed the topics of planetary health and sustainable healthcare into the undergraduate medical curriculum, so that the default way of thinking for a Dundee Medical Graduate is to view the practice of medicine and clinical decision making through the lens of ecological sustainability, this will benefit patients, public health and the natural environment. 
We have now Sustainability Education in all years of the medical school.

Undergraduate Year 1: Introduction to Planetary Health, Sustainable Healthcare, and Environmental Advocacy (Lecture); Sustainable Nutrition (Lecture); Planetary Health (SSC)

Undergraduate Year 2: Climate Change and Health (Workshop)

Undergraduate Year 3: Our Natural Health Service (SSC)

Undergraduate Year 4: Environmental Sustainability (Online module)

Undergraduate Year 5: Environmentally Sustainable Clinical Practice (Sustainability in Quality Improvement framework (SusQI) SSC)

We also have 2 electives and 4SSCs

The students are very much involved in our submission of the Planetary Health Report Card

Undergraduate student in School of Medicine working on a black board together.

Staff Education

Objective: To integrate Sustainability training with formal OPD for the School of Medicine.

Working with OPD we are setting up a Medical School specific, OPD approved session for staff training. Additionally, we have discussed university-wide modules which are under preparation. We are developing a ‘Sustainability Corridor’ which will open in November, with wide screen information and a pop up ‘Vintage shop’.

We have set up a staff questionnaire to determine needs, and to gather ideas.

Community Engagement/Education

Over the past 6 months we have given 7 lectures on various topics including Health, Climate Change and Air Pollution’. We have engaged with the Scottish Government Net Zero Committee, attended Scottish Government Climate change workshop; We are participating in Sustainable Dundee as a partnership of organisations working together to tackle the Climate Emergency by supporting low carbon living and enhancing nature to help the City achieve its target of Net Zero Greenhouse Gas emissions before 2045. We are collaborating with a range of organisations on improvement/design projects – Community gardens, Eden project, Botanic gardens, RSPB, Green health partnership, V & A . Patient information posters are being prepared for OP Clinics eg Vaping and healthy eating projects with community food larders and community garden.


We have a Sustainability SharePoint accessible through a QR code, a webpage, a regular newsletter, and the Wide-screen in the Sustainability Corridor will rotate through various themes.

Reduce Reuse Recycle

The pop up shop will have re-usable stationary items, we already re use these and give to the students. Reusable plastic is being explored for the labs. An obsolete MRI scanner has been given to a country that needs it, as have laryngoscopes and other medical equipment. A large amount of PPE has been sent to Africa. Textbooks have been recycled via simply text book. General recycling is undertaken with NHS Tayside (aluminium/paper/plastic/glass). Food is composted.


Car sharing initiatives being discussed, staff can book bikes to ravel to city campus through booking scheme, enquiries are being made about salary sacrifice for eCars, we already have a scheme for bikes.