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University of Greenwich named UK’s ’greenest university ever’ 30.05.12


With a record 145 universities participating in this year’s People & Planet Green League ranking and 46 receiving First Class degrees, it is clear student campaigning to green the UK higher education sector is making serious inroads. Source: People & Planet



First time winner University of Greenwich pipped previous winners Nottingham Trent, Gloucestershire and Plymouth to the post, and was joined in the top 5 by new entrant University of Brighton (up 18 places).

Nationally, we’ve seen huge progress in all key indicators measuring universities ‘transition’ to a low-carbon, sustainable future including:

- Sector-wide carbon emissions down 4% on last year


- Double the number of universities integrating sustainability across their curricula


- 86% rise in universities employing at least 1 sustainability staff member


- On average universities are sourcing 72% of their electricity from renewables compared to 63% last year

This, despite central government’s failure to live up to promises of being the “greenest government ever” or respond to student demands for a greener education sector

Louise Hazan, who compiles the People & Planet Green League annually, said

““Now is the time for stronger leadership from Government to help build on the commendable efforts of our greenest universities and encourage those further down the Green League table, and in other industries, to turn over a new green leaf too.”

Students demand greener degrees

Across the country, students are both excited and disappointed by the results, with numerous groups planning actions to highlight progress or failure at their institutions.

Encouragingly, the number of universities scoring full marks for exemplary Staff & Student Engagement has risen 53%. This reflects a broad acceptance within the sector of the need to listen to the 70% of students who want sustainability integrated into their degree courses (according to a new NUS/HEA study out soon).

Neil Garrod, Deputy Vice Chancellor at the winning University of Greenwich, concurs:

“We could never have come so far so quickly without the involvement and commitment of the whole university community”. Willingness to engage with the student (and staff) body on sustainability issues has been key to Greenwich and many other First Class universities’ success. Something which Sarah Norris of York People & Planet laments at York University:

“We have no full-time member of staff dedicated to and experienced in issues of the environment or sustainability to coordinate efforts to improve our campus impact on our surroundings. Staff and student concerns about sustainability therefore go unheard by uncommunicative University management. There is no sense of an urgent problem, when students and teaching staff see that there quite clearly is one.”

Carbon emissions starting to fall

For the first time, we’ve seen a 4% reduction in carbon emissions since last year across participating universities. Winner Greenwich has reduced its carbon footprint by 22% since 2005, an impressive achievement that’s been aided by bold investment in carbon reduction projects which are estimated to save the university well over £3million by 2016.

This year’s People & Planet Green League shows that universities get it: going greener saves money, cuts carbon and provides students with better employability prospects in a future green economy. Worryingly, it seems like our supposed Greenest Government Ever still has much to learn about greening either the education sector or our wider economy.

Check out People & Planet’s interactive Green League website which includes:

Detailed scorecard for each university – click on your university name

Search our database of case studies highlight best practice in key areas

Going to uni soon? Compare your favourite universities using the Custom League creator to see who’s greenest

Peter Shield

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People & Planet

Comment on this article

1 Comment

  • University of Greenwich named UK’s ’greenest university ever’

    31 May 2012 16:46, by Geoff3

    Quite surprising to read this really, considering this is the same university that commissioned a 500,000 volt electrical substation for their new School of Architecture to be built next to a children’s play area!
    Well done, but not well done!

    Reply to this comment

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