University of Huddersfield - The People & Planet University League 2008's Most Improved University

The University of Huddersfield rose a staggering 63 places in the People & Planet University League 2008 to 8th place - giving them a First. They have demonstrated the scale of what can be achieved when an institution is determined to change.

Here they explain how the People & Planet University League 2007 prompted the strategic approach they took to greening their campus.

The People & Planet University League as a driver of Change

A sustainability stall at The University of Huddersfield Freshers stall

University of Huddersfield: Telling freshers why sustainability matters

The student-centred ethos at the University of Huddersfield has enabled us to really identify with the aspirations of People and Planet’s People & Planet University League, appreciating that it was borne out of student interest in their chosen universities’ environmental credentials.

The University recognises the league table as both a positive step and a challenge, and credits it for accelerating work in support of our green agenda.

Jeff Cocker, our Assistant Director of Estates explains:

“While we have always been environmentally conscious, installing our first sustainable initiative on campus in 1974 — a cooling system utilising water from our local canal — the People & Planet University League has focused our thinking.

Following last year’s People & Planet University League results we targeted two key improvements - to maintain our current low carbon emissions within a growing population and to increase recycling on campus from 8% to 25%. This, coupled with considerable investment into our environmental management, has ensured significant recent progress.”

To drive forward sustainability projects, the University has in the last year made two specific appointments, engaging both a Sustainable Travel Coordinator and a full-time Environmental Coordinator.

Considerable improvements have been made to the availability and presentation of environmental information — formalising and making publicly available its environmental policy, four roadshows during the year to promote green initiatives on campus, and hosting sustainability tours of its BREEAM assessed buildings.

Comprehensive audits of energy, water and emissions have continued, and in the last year have been introduced for additional areas such as waste management, biodiversity and transport.

At ground level, a number of new initiatives have been implemented, the most successful being pilot recycling schemes in student and staff areas, producing a five-fold increase in recycling from 8% to 45%. Central to our success have been Recycling Champions, volunteers who act as a key link in managing 150 internal collection points.

In terms of its ‘environmental bottom-line’, the University has successfully maintained its status as the UK university with the second-lowest carbon emissions per head, and actually reduced carbon emissions by a further 13% over the past year. This it puts down to energy saving campaigns, such as seminars provided by the in-house Energy Manager to cleaning staff, increased purchase of carbon neutral energy, its ongoing programme of upgrading insulation, and working to targets provided by benchmarking tools.

Additionally, new measures in this year’s League Table recognise the University’s achievement of year-on-year reductions in water consumption. Always tightly managed, our water conservation measures include a very active leak detection regime in collaboration with our water supplier, ongoing replacement of underground piping and upgrading taps to auto switch-off.

Environmental Coordinator, Emily Rye, sums up:

“A unique part of our environmental approach has been direct investment into initiatives that make the most of our situation and resources we have readily available. Longstanding initiatives have harnessed the benefits of waterways that pass through campus - today 38% of our buildings rely on canal-water cooling, which contributes to keeping our energy usage low. Our new self-contained University Centre Barnsley provided the ideal site to trial our model ‘Total Recycling Facility’, achieving a 69% recycling rate in the first 3 months and a learning experience that helped us maximise recycling success back on our main campus. And not forgetting, the abundance of rainwater in our region has presented an excellent opportunity for us to install a rainwater harvesting system in our newest building!”

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