2 February 2018

The University of Birmingham wins sustainability award

The University of Birmingham was recognised for its green initiatives across its campuses and the carbon emissions targets it achieved 3 years early than initially planned.

More specifically, the University won the Global Bronze Winner award in the category of education and training at the Green World Awards- an international recognition campaign rewarding the best environmental practice by companies, organisations, and governments.

The University set out its sustainability and emissions reduction strategy in 2012, where it pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

Despite the expansion of activities at its Edgbaston campus- one of the University’s 2 main campuses, the target was impressively met 3 years early.

Trevor Payne, University Director of Estates, said: “The award represents the work of operational and academic colleagues across the institution and the rollout of some really innovative solutions”.

“From the design of new buildings, with high sustainability standards, to the development of alternatively fuelled vehicles in the University's fleet, we have achieved a great deal in a relatively short space of time  The University is proud to be a global leader in environmental sustainability”, he explained.

Energy efficiency was a key to meeting the carbon emissions targets. The University managed to deliver Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) ‘A’ ratings in all its newly constructed buildings and ‘B’ ratings in the refurbished ones- a significant achievement given the challenges presented by the historic nature of the University’s buildings.

To further reduce its energy emissions, the district heating systems were expanded by 2 megawatts (MW) replacing an inefficient combined heat and power (CHP) plant.

Through a staff engagement campaign, employees from various departments have supported the sustainability strategy with carbon initiatives in their fields. For example, laboratories- some of the University’s most carbon-intensive facilities, have now incorporated sustainability principles significantly reducing their energy needs.

The University also addressed mobility emissions through the deployment of a Green Travel Plan, which encourages employees to use sustainable means of transport. According to the University’s statistics, staff and students are 4 times more likely to cycle to work than the national average, and single car occupancy is down to 36.5 percent.

In addition, more than one-third of the University’s fleet is comprised of a mixture of hydrogen fuel cell, electric, and hybrid vehicles. In 2007, the University was already using 17 electric vehicles in a fleet of 102 cars, and its first hydrogen microcab van was put into use for postal services in 2010. 

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