Date of release: Friday, November 29, 2013

The winning teamThe University of Greenwich has won the prestigious Times Higher Education Award for Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development.

The judges said that they chose the university from a shortlist “full of heavyweights” in recognition of the university’s “remarkable achievement” of “attaining and sustaining a standard that not just matches best practice elsewhere but introduces its own innovations”. They commended Greenwich’s “permaculture” change framework, developed by the university to minimise energy consumption, environmental damage and waste, and to maximise synergy, productivity and well-being.

Achievements noted by the judges included: a 22 per cent reduction in the university’s carbon footprint since 2005, with a further 40 per cent cut envisaged by 2020; 200 solar panels installed in student accommodation; 100 per cent of university computers benefiting from power-down software; and achieving ISO 14001 accreditation – which provides assurance that environmental impact is being measured and improved.

“The methodology devised by the university to achieve this was particularly noted as having clear potential for use by other institutions with similar ambitions to make a step change in their sustainability performance,” said judge Patrick Finch, bursar and director of estates at the University of Bristol.

Other initiatives at the university include the £76 million Stockwell Street development, due to open next year, which has already won two innovation credits and an “Excellent” rating for design from the world's foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings, BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method). Housing the campus library and disciplines within the Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities, it will feature a series of landscape roofs, offering innovative living laboratories for teaching and research. An experimental glycerol-fuelled power plant is also being built, part of a €4 million European project, led by Greenwich, to find sustainable sources of green energy.

The winning entry also took into account the fun and engaging side of the university’s green ethos. Sustainability champions among staff and students are completing Green Impact workbooks, architecture students have been building ‘living walls’, and many others have been involved with planting, bee keeping and pond conservation activities.

Professor David Maguire, Vice-Chancellor of the university, says: “Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at Greenwich. It’s about the way in which we manage our buildings and estate; it’s a core theme in our research expertise and knowledge transfer activities; it’s embedded in our teaching; and it’s a key component in our relationships with our local communities. All of these come together in our strategic plan, which underlines our commitment to remain a leader in this field in the years ahead. A great deal has been achieved and I would like to congratulate all the university’s students and staff and thank them for their hard work and commitment.”

The prize was announced at a gala ceremony last night at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. Greenwich also topped the rankings in the People and Planet Green League table last year.

Pictured from left: Keith Jones, Nigel Heugh, Emily Mason, Mary McCartney, Debbie Bartlett, Peter Fotheringham, Kat Thorne, Amanda Hatton, Gerry Bildstein, Pat Harvey, Patrick Finch (one of the judges).

The university’s Sustainability Blog: http://blogs.gre.ac.uk/greengreenwich/

Story by Public Relations