This week saw the latest release of People & Planet’s University League, which ranks UK universities on their sustainable credentials. But what does it really take to make a sustainable university?
A big focus on people
What is clear from the rankings is that a sustainable university needs to invest in and support its people. First up, have a named individual or team responsible for sustainability, and give them the resources to achieve their goals. Secondly, have a clear environmental policy in place so that there are targets to work towards. Thirdly, ensure all new staff learn about sustainability during their induction. Lastly – and perhaps most importantly – get both students and staff engaged in the topic of sustainability. You could provide opportunities for them to get involved in policy development and monitoring, or resources to fund their own projects. Communicate your achievements and reward those that go the extra mile – like the University of Chichester do with their annual Jump awards!
Don’t forget the facilities
Of course, the physical impact of each University’s operations is taken into account – carbon management, energy sourcing, waste and recycling and water management are all factored into the rankings. Your organisation should consider taking steps such as divesting from fossil fuels and investing in renewable energy.
If your organisation isn’t quite at this stage yet, then it’s important to start with the basics. Make sure robust carbon measurement and management systems are in place so you can track your impact and adapt accordingly. Ensure recycling facilities are widely available and easy to use, and that energy efficient equipment is standard.
Could yours be a sustainable university?
Out of more that 154 institutions, five of our University clients received a first class rating from People & Planet, with Nottingham Trent University coming in third overall! Their Green Rewards programme has helped to embed a culture of positive behaviour change at the University. Meanwhile, Swansea University came 9th and the University of Bristol achieved 11th in this year’s rankings.