The University of Worcester has been named the UK’s top sustainable university and will now go on to represent the UK at the global awards at the United Nations next year.
Worcester was named Sustainability Institution of the Year at the Green Gown Awards last night. The awards recognise exceptional sustainability initiatives by universities and colleges and best practice within the further and higher education sector.
The University’s Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor David Green CBE, said: “We are delighted that Worcester’s deep commitment to promoting and practising sustainability has been recognised with this award. This outstanding achievement follows hot on the heels of the University being ranked Number One for Quality Education and Number One for Gender Equality in the Times Higher Education University Impact Tables, which, like these awards, are based on universities’ work to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
“Improving our contribution to achieving these goals is ever more important as the climate crisis intensifies. My thanks to all the colleagues, students, and governors throughout the University, along with our many partners in education, business and public services, who have done so much through practical change, planning, education, research and more to work towards these goals. Let us use this award as a springboard to redouble our efforts, cut carbon emissions and make an even bigger contribution to benefit the people and the planet.”
Chair of Governors at the University, John Bateman OBE, added: ““To win this prestigious award is a fantastic achievement and just reward for the hard work and enlightened leadership of staff, students and governors.
“To be the UK and Irish nomination for the UN’s International Awards will provide the University with a wonderful opportunity to showcase its work and the City on a global stage.”
As well as winning Sustainability Institution of the Year, Worcester was highly commended in the Campus of the Future category of the awards.
The judges said they were particularly impressed by the University’s breadth of activity, impact in the community and willingness to collaborate and share with the sector.
The University, in close partnership with the Students’ Union, has pioneered many initiatives to promote sustainability over the last 15 years, including much improved recycling, promoting walking and cycling wherever possible, and practical changes such as introducing less energy intensive lighting and solar heated hot water. The University has built up an enviable record of sustainability and earlier this year was awarded First Class Honours – for the 11th consecutive year – in the People and Planet University League, which measures sustainability performance at higher education institutions.
The Campus of the Future category focused on the University’s latest successful development of the new Art House, which was opened by the University’s Chancellor, His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester, in February 2019. This highly inclusive, visually stunning facility, on Castle Street, Worcester, was created through a sympathetic renovation of the listed, former Austin House Garage building, transforming the interior into a high quality creative art and exhibition working, teaching and learning space. It is one of very few buildings to achieve the RICS SKA Higher Education sustainability assessment Gold award, with features including intelligent lighting and user controlled real-time energy management, heating, ventilation and cooling. External spaces incorporated increased biodiversity, surface water strategies as well as minimal parking alongside significant cycling infrastructure and electric vehicle charging points.
Other projects the University has recently been engaged in include piloting a community electric bike share scheme and working with Worcester Bosch to improve heating decisions in shared student housing. A ‘white bag’ scheme sees the University working with a number of local partners to encourage recycling, by providing student landlords with free recycling receptacles, information and support, and training student volunteers to mentor their peers. The University also holds an annual on-campus and city-based Go Green Week, offering a number of sustainability activities.