Suffolk/Essex: How green is your university?



The region’s universities have all lost ground in a league table that assesses their ethical and environmental credentials.

The People & Planet Green League 2013 has examined 143 institutions, including University Campus Suffolk, The University of Essex and The University of East Anglia (UEA) and awarded them degree grades based on their actions and attitudes towards green living.

The league shows the UEA is top of the class in the region and was handed a first, although since 2012 the university has dropped to 28th to 11th position and was awarded 32 out of 40 for its policy and 13 out of a possible 20 points for its performance.

But University Campus Suffolk was handed a third for its efforts and fell from 95th to 109th, picking up 19.5 marks for policy and just eight for performance. The University of Essex fell four places to 79 and was awarded a 2:2.

Phoebe Cullingworth, climate change campaign coordinator at People & Planet and who helped to compile the Green League said it was “disappointing” to see UCS and Essex underachieving.

Both Universities have dropped a number of places having not made improvements on their scores from 2012. Suffolk has dropped to a third class award while Essex this year scores a lower second class, both down one grade ranking.

“They both have some catching up to do with the rest of the higher education sector, particularly in the areas of environmental auditing, renewable energy and ethical investment where both Universities scored few or no points.

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“However, we’re hopeful that both Universities will be able to reverse this downward trend over the next year, particularly with Essex students and staff recently launching a Transition University project.”

Steve Marsden, Sustainability Officer, says: “UCS is committed to continuous improvement in all aspects of its sustainability performance and our new buildings on Ipswich Waterfront are a testament to this, having been independently assessed as ‘Excellent’ under the Buildings Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method. Although our performance in several key areas has strengthened over the last year, for instance carbon management, environmental auditing, renewable energy and supporting the growth of a green economy, these improvements are not reflected in the Green League rankings. Our main priority is to continue to focus on our sustainability strategy, which focuses on the needs of our students, employers and other stakeholders across Suffolk“.

A spokeswoman for the University of Essex said: “Despite falling a very small number of places in the 2013 People and Planet Green League of UK universities, the University of Essex remains committed to becoming one of the greenest universities in the country with sustainability a core principle of all our research, teaching and business activities.

“Sustainability is at the heart of our building programme. Work started this spring on what will be the University’s greenest ever building: the new home of Essex Business School will feature low and zero carbon technology, an interior winter garden which will act as an environmental buffer zone, a ground source heat pump and photovoltaic panels.”

She added: “Initiatives to encourage staff and students adopt green principles have included the introduction of binless offices, a greater number of accessible recycling bins, incentives and discounts for staff and students wanting to use sustainable methods of transport and a popular car-sharing scheme.”

The ranking combines data obtained directly from universities through the Freedom of Information Act with raw estates data obtained from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

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