Plymouth ranked UK’s greenest university while others spurn eco principles

Plymouth University leads the league table of the UK’s most sustainable universities. The People & Planet University League 2015, which ranked 151 universities by ethical and environmental criteria, places Worcester, Manchester Metropolitan, Nottingham Trent, and City University London in the UK’s best five with University of Hull, Bolton, London Business School and the Royal Veterinary College among those trailing at the bottom of the table.

Professor David Coslett, interim chief executive at Plymouth University said: “Plymouth has been on a journey to explore what sustainability means to us as a university, and it’s one that we’ve now placed at the very core of the way we do things. It is threaded through the way we run our campus and manage our relationship with suppliers; through our teaching and curriculum; and it drives much of our research as we look to tackle some of the most urgent scientific and socio-economic issues of the day.”

Criteria assessed in the ranking include: environmental policy, audit and human resources, and performance in areas such as carbon reduction, waste and water recycling, student engagement, curriculum for sustainable development, energy efficiency, sustainable food and workers’ rights.

Over half of all university senior management teams now receive an annual report evaluating the performance of their institution’s environmental policy and the latest figures show an overall reduction in university carbon emissions of 3.6% on last year’s figures. Overall 44% of universities now demonstrate a commitment to integrate sustainable development across all aspects of teaching and learning.

Meanwhile, many of the universities at the bottom of this year’s league table refused to answer questions about their progress on environmental sustainability. Jonathon Porritt, founder of Forum for the Future and chancellor at Keele University, said: “There are still too many universities who do not give sustainability the attention or significance it deserves.”

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