What makes a sustainable university?

Sustainable university rankings

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.

Want to know more? Our work in the University sector covers both staff and students, engaging audiences in key sustainability and wellbeing topics.

Our solutions

Request a 15-minute demo

Find out how Jump can boost engagement within your organisation.

Bethany Fruen

Head of Communications

Bethany Fruen

Since joining Jump fresh out of university back in 2013 I’ve seen many changes in the way we communicate – both as a company and more widely within the sustainability industry. The current shift of sustainability to the mainstream is accelerating at a pace and it’s exciting to be part of this step change.  The insight I get from individual participants in our client programmes is invaluable as it helps me figure out the best way to get our messages across.

My team and I use digital communications to recognise individual and team success, providing information in a fun, meaningful way that encourages people to take action. It’s about creating a feedback loop where people see that their actions are having an impact and this is very powerful in creating positive change within an organisation.


Graham Simmonds

Chief Executive

Graham Simmonds

As CEO of Jump I lead a talented team of professionals committed to sustainability and wellness.  For much of my 35 year career I’ve been immersed in environmental issues, particularly how to engage people in practical action.  Previously I built Trees for Cities from start-up to a global, award-winning charity as its founding chief executive, and I loved developing new initiatives such as The Edible Playground and the Million Trees Campaign.  

In 2011 I set up Jump as I felt organisations large and small want to motivate action amongst their people around wellbeing and the planet, and a professional team dedicated to this purpose would help them accelerate their journey.  I’m also proud to chair the Reward Gateway Foundation which supports organisations and projects that address inequality and disadvantage, with the ultimate mission of making the world a better, fairer, safer and more equal place to work.