UWE shortlisted for sustainability award

Issue date: 22 September 2009

The world The University of the West of England has been shortlisted by the Times Higher Education for a prestigious award recognising its continued commitment to sustainability.

The Times Higher Education Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development Award, will be awarded at a ceremony on Friday 15 October at the Grosvenor House Hotel, as one of the 18 areas in which the Times Higher Education recognises outstanding achievement.

UWE Vice-Chancellor, Steve West said, “We are delighted to have been shortlisted for this award. The Times Higher Education Awards received over 600 entries from 137 higher education institutions in the UK, therefore to even be shortlisted is a huge achievement and further recognition of the progress we have made in meeting the University's sustainability objectives.”

The University has taken significant measures over the past few years to improve its green credentials including investment in transport, buildings, recycling measures, energy consumption and commitment to fair trade and supporting local suppliers.

Significantly part of this commitment includes the growth of education for sustainable development with 130 modules dedicating to teaching sustainability. The University's Institute for Sustainability, Health and the Environment pulls together over 30 research areas dedicated to 'Healthy People + Healthy Planet = Better Together, UWE's strap line.

Mark Webster, UWE's Environment Manager said, “Sustainability is at the heart of what we do at UWE. We are working hard to ensure that sustainability permeates all areas of the University. Successful ideas include being the first university to organise a regular farmers market selling local produce. The University catering facilities also source produce locally and since 2006 we have committed to the Food for Life Partnerships. We have been awarded fair trade status for the past three years and thanks to a £50k investment in office recycling banks and the removal of 1500 under desk bins, over 35% of waste is now recycled.”

Steve Ward, UWE's award winning Travel Planner said, “We have brought a whole host of improvements aimed at encouraging students and staff to use public transport by making these travel options attractive to all. By working in partnership with a local bus company we have set up the Ulink low emission bus network which is also available to the general public and we have seen passenger numbers double in the past twelve months. UWE was instrumental in establishing Hourbike, a copy of the hugely successful cycle hire scheme run in Paris and Barcelona. Staff at the University can join the Cycle to Work scheme enabling tax free cycle purchase. More recently we have introduced a smart card system for bus passengers.”

UWE has been consistently in the top 10 People and Planet university league table for the last three years. At this year's Welcome Weekend to UWE, People and Planet topped the bill with an environmental play to entertain the 6,000 new students. Also a novel cycle powered smoothie machine was on hand to demonstrate the power of sustainable thinking.

Steve West concludes, “We are constantly looking to improve the sustainability of all aspects of what we do. All of our new buildings are carbon efficient and winning environmental awards. We are committed to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 30% by 2012 which includes a 50 % cut in gas consumption partially achieved through a comprehensive boiler replacement programme. We have also recently switched to a green tariff for energy consumption and air quality is monitored from the UWE air quality monitoring station.

“We aim to carry on this good work in all future developments as the University sets to double in size over the next 25 years.”


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