INFRASTRUCTURE

University of Gloucestershire tops Sustainable Universities rankings

SOURCE: Aaron Burden/Unsplash
People & Planet release the sustainable rankings each year to highlight the importance of sustainable practices.


By U2B Staff 

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The University of Gloucestershire has been named the most sustainable university in the UK, according to People & Planet’s latest university league, narrowly beating out Manchester Metropolitan University.

The student network, focused on social and environmental justice, release their Sustainable Universities Rankings each year in a bid to highlight the importance of sustainable practices and ensure environmentally conscious students are making the right choices in where to study.

This year, Gloucestershire topped the list, followed by Manchester Metropolitan, Nottingham Trent, and Northumbria University, with City, University of London and the University of Worcester tying in fifth place. All of those placed in the top 30 received a “first-class” rating from the student activists.

Down the bottom end of the rankings, a few big names appeared in the “failed universities” category. These include Imperial College London in 130th place, St. Mary’s University College Belfast in 138th, and London Business School in 140th place.

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Right at the bottom of the list in 154th place is Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance.

Sustainability has become a key issue for universities worldwide and the UK is no exception. In July, more than 7,000 colleges and universities across the globe declared a climate emergency and unveiled a three-point plan to collectively commit to addressing the crisis.

The announcement marked the first time further and higher education establishments have come together to make a collective commitment to tackle climate change. The plan commits signatories to going carbon neutral by 2030 or by 2050 at the very latest. It also features pledges to mobilise more resources for climate research and skills creation, as well as improving the delivery of environmental and sustainability education.

Many UK universities are adopting this pledge and making it central to their operations and ethos, understanding the major role higher education plays in minimising the impact of global climate change.

At the beginning of the month, the University of London launched its Zero Carbon Estates Handbook. The project brought together over 200 people from across society, to layout a masterplan for change. This 44-page document aims to provide UK and Ireland’s higher education professionals the tools to combat the problem and consider how they can influence their universities on the drive toward zero carbon.

To earn itself the top spot in the Sustainable Universities rankings, the University of Gloucestershire has implemented a whole raft of features and policies to ensure its whole campus is working at safe sustainable levels – and the results are impressive.

The university has reduced the amount of waste going to landfill by 98 percent in comparison with their 2010 baseline. A large majority (71 percent) of all waste is now recycled and its carbon dioxide emissions from water supply and consumption have significantly reduced.

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They now emit over 2,000 fewer tonnes of carbon each year than they did ten years ago. That’s the equivalent of 250 typical UK homes worth of emissions. Over that same time period, they have reduced electricity use by 19 percent and gas by 37 percent.

With young adults wising to up to the reality that climate change is the world’s biggest problem, they are increasingly placing environmental issues at the centre of their decisionmaking and seeking out sustainable universities when looking for a college.

This shift towards sustainability could not only end up benefiting the environment and a university’s spending, but also attracting the interest of more prospective students.