Green League 2009 Methodology

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The Green League takes a dual approach - looking both at commitment to systemic environmental management and at performance. We see both as being essential. The performance indicators reveal how well an institution is performing on the ground. The policy criteria demonstrate whether an institution has a systematic means of improving such performance.

Management and Policy

1. Publicly Available Environmental Policy

An environmental policy provides a formal, public and permanent demonstration of intent regarding performance. It is crucial in ensuring there is sustained, strategic improvement in environmental performance. The Green League 2008 revealed that 97% of institutions have some form of environment policy but the policies varied widely in the number of areas they assess.

Point Allocation: (8 points)

The institution has a publicly available environmental policy published in the last five years (2 points)

The institution reports on the environmental policy annually at a senior level of university administration (2 points)

The institution sets targets to reduce environmental impact in the following areas:

Note: points are no longer allocated for targets relating to energy in the environmental policy. This is because we have introduced a new indicator focused on Carbon Management, which assesses policy and targets relating to energy in more depth.

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2. Full Time Environment Management Staff

Without the expertise and championing of full-time professional environmental management staff, it has been repeatedly demonstrated that green initiatives in universities are unlikely to be systematic, well coordinated and resourced, or have significant success. Environmental managers develop objectives and set priorities, with significant, time bound targets, and can co-ordinate the work to fulfil them.

The Green League 2008 revealed that over half of universities have full time environment personnel but given the importance of full time staff dedicated to environmental management this figure should be closer to 100%. Unlike last year the Green League 2009 awards no points for having a part time staff member with part responsibility for environmental management because effectively managing the environmental performance of any university requires more capacity than one such staff member can provide.

Transforming an institution’s environmental performance cannot be done without the engagement and support of staff at all levels and so the Green League 2009 awards additional points if there are formal schemes to involve other staff members - for example departmental eco-rep schemes.

Point allocation: (10 points)

Institution has created a formal scheme to involve other members of staff in environmental management. (2 points)

The institution can qualify for points for either i), ii) OR iii).

i) Less than one full time dedicated staff member. (2 points)

Institution has a part time member of staff with full responsibility for developing and implementing environmental management plans OR has a full time member of staff with part responsibility for developing and implementing environmental management plans.

Note: A staff member has part responsibility for developing and implementing environmental management plans if they are working on only one aspect of environmental management, or have other non-environmental management responsibilities.

ii) One full time dedicated staff member. (6 points)

Institution has a full time member of staff with full responsibility for developing and implementing environmental management plans.

iii) More than one full time dedicated staff member. (8 points)

Institution has one full time member of staff with full responsibility for developing and implementing environmental management plans plus additional part or full time staff with responsibility for developing and implementing environmental management plans. (8 points)

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3. Comprehensive Environmental Auditing

Only by analysing the variety of different environmental impacts - from energy to purchasing and biodiversity - can a university set targets, and assess priorities for improvement.

This year points are not allocated for a single comprehensive baseline review as People & Planet recognises that while a baseline review is ideal, universities are able to effectively monitor a variety of impact areas separately.

In recognition of the rigor and accuracy of external environmental management systems (e.g. ISO14001, EMAS etc) the Green League 2009 awards more points than ever before to the universities that have opened themselves to the external scrutiny of such schemes.

Point Allocation: (8 points)

Institution has audited environmental impacts in the following areas in the last five years

Institution is part of an external environmental management system (e.g. ISO14001, EMAS, Ecocampus etc.) (4 points)

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4. Ethical Investment Policy

A strong ethical investment policy ensures a university’s investments are conducted transparently and in an economically viable and socially responsible manner, not blind to wider social, environmental and humanitarian concerns.

If an ethical investment policy isn’t put into practice then it is not worth the paper it’s printed on. The Green League 2009 therefore awards a point if there is a clear process for regular review, with ongoing opportunities for staff, students and other stakeholders to engage with the policy.

The Green League is focused on testing the environmental impact of universities, therefore the Green League 2009 awards points to those universities that specifically consider the environmental consequences of investment.

Point Allocation: (4 points)

Institution has a publicly available ethical investment policy published in last five years. (1 point)

Institution has a publicly available ethical investment policy which is reported on annually and/or there are ongoing opportunities for staff, students and other stakeholders to engage with the policy. (1 point)

Institution has, on ethical grounds: a) divested, b) invested or c) engaged with companies as a shareholder. (1 point - no extra points for doing more than one)

The ethical investment policy or other investment documents makes specific reference to taking action due to environmental considerations (1 point)

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5. Carbon Management

Combating climate change, and cutting carbon emissions, is the predominant environmental challenge of today. The latest science shows the need for at least 80% carbon reductions in the UK by 2050. Carbon management is therefore central to the future of environmental management in universities. The Green League 2009 awards specific points to those institutions who have created carbon management plans.

To meet the targets in the Climate Change Act universities must not only have carbon management plans but also set targets that are ambitious enough to put the sector on track to meet longer term targets, so points are awarded for the percentage carbon reduction target universities hope to achieve over a 5 year period.

To recognise that universities have a huge power to influence the significant emissions resulting from travel and procurement more points are allotted if the plans cover those specific areas. Early anecdotal evidence suggests that a relatively small number of institutions’ carbon management plans currently cover these areas so it is hoped that when those plans are reviewed institutions will look at these very significant areas.

Why include student travel at the start and end of term?

Students are increasingly taking advantage of cheap flights to travel to and from university at the beginning, end and even during term time. Cheap domestic flights are attracting students who could easily use lower carbon forms of transport to move between home and their term time address. Despite this People & Planet is unaware of any university attempting to limit the environmental impacts of such travel.

Furthermore, the number of international students attending UK universities has increased fivefold in the past fourteen years in part due to a deliberate recruitment strategy by universities. The Higher Education Funding Council for England in ‘Sustainable Development in Higher Education’ has acknowledged the global environmental impact of the flights taken by international students and preliminary research shows that carbon equivalent emissions from flights by international students studying in the UK are similar to or greater than carbon emissions from the whole HE sector’s building stock. Given the high environmental impact of air travel, the emissions from this activity should be investigated.

People & Planet recognises the great benefits international students bring to the HE sector and is not implying that the number of international students attending UK universities should be reduced. However, it is important to recognise the environmental impact of all students’ flying and consider measures to mitigate this impact. Such measures could include providing attractive accomodation over the holiday period to reduce the number of flights taken and the provision of information and subsidies for students using low carbon alternatives methods of transport.

Point allocation: (6 points)

Institution has a publicly available carbon management plan with a specific percentage time bound carbon reduction target with a baseline that includes direct energy use (2 points)

Percentage carbon reduction target institution aims to achieve over 5 years (0 to 2 points depending on how target compares to other institutions targets)

The scope of the carbon management plan baseline includes the following areas:

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6. Fairtrade University accreditation

Fairtrade University certification is an objective standard, accredited by the Fairtrade Foundation, for progressive Fairtrade purchasing in universities. A sustainable university will consider its impacts not just in the UK but also on the wider world particularly through its purchasing policies. Being an accredited Fairtrade University demonstrates that the university is, at least in part, considering this.

Point Allocation: (2 points)

Institution is an accredited Fairtrade University with the Fairtrade Foundation. (2 points)

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7. Environmental Impact of Students’ Union or Students’ Association

From the example they set to students to the phenomenal number of bottles they generate, Students’ Unions and Students’ Associations have a huge environmental responsibility. Universities can play a crucial role in encouraging Students’ Unions to improve their environmental performance because, in addition to some universities owning and managing Students’ Union properties, all universities can share expertise on environmental management and provide grants for environmental improvements and initiatives.

The Sound Impact Environmental Awards scheme was launched by NUS Services Ltd to provide Students’ Unions and Students’ Associations with a framework to create and measure systematic environmental improvements. To achieve the Bronze standard each Union entering the scheme must satisfy 21 essential criteria that range from buying recycled paper to conducting an environmental audit. The highest performing Unions and Associations can go on to achieve a Silver or Gold award by satisfying up to 100 additional criteria.

As only Students’ Unions affiliated to NUS are eligible for the Sound Environmental Impact Award scheme those unions not affiliated to NUS were surveyed for a snapshot of their environmental performance and awarded points accordingly.

Point allocation: (2 points)

Students’ Union or Students’ Association associated to the institution has achieved a Bronze standard, Silver standard or Gold Award in this year’s Sound Impact Environmental Awards (2 points)

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Performance

The Green League 2009 has increased the weighting for the improvement in an institution’s performance over the institution’s absolute performance figures. Increasing the number of points for improvement is a recognition of the diversity of institutions within the HE sector; differences in circumstances will mean some institutions find it more difficult to perform well in the performance related indicators than others and including points for improvements recognises those institutions who face more difficult circumstances but are still making improvements.

It is important to applaud institutions who demonstrate considerable improvement. They are clearly working to tackle their environmental impact. No institution has ever performed so well that they don’t have scope for improvement.

8. Energy sources

Universities have a clear responsibility to rapidly reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases in order to help prevent further climatic destabilisation. Carbon reductions will not be achieved by energy conservation measures alone and it is therefore vital for universities to invest in renewable and decentralised energy.

Unlike last year the Estates Management Statistics data now differentiates between renewable energy sources subject to Levy Exemption Certificates (LECs) and those not subject to LECs. People & Planet has chosen to monitor only renewable energy sources subject to LECs to ensure we are awarding points only for electricity that is generated according to stricter environmental standards.

Point allocation: (6 points)

Percentage total energy from renewable energy sources subject to LECs (0 to 3 points depending on renewable energy compared to other institutions)

Institution has an onsite Combined Heat and Power Plant (CHP) (1 point)

Improvement in percentage total energy from renewable energy sources (0 to 2 points depending on percentage improvement)

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9. Waste

By not recycling, universities are wasting money through contributions to landfill tax as well as contributing to pollution and climate change. Institutions are ranked according to the proportion of total waste mass they recycle.

Recognising that reducing waste is environmentally superior to recycling waste, the Green League 2009 is awarding up to four points for reduction in waste mass per head compared to last year’s figures.

Due to changes in the waste volume to mass conversion factors used by Estates Management Statistics institution’s figures for percentage of waste recycled and waste mass will have changed since last year regardless of what institutions have done. To compensate for this the Green League 2009 will award points based on how an institution’s percentage of waste recycled and waste mass has improved compared to other institution’s improvements.

Point allocation: (8 points)

Percentage of waste an institution recycles (0 to 2 points depending on percentage of waste recycled compared to other institutions)

Change in percentage of waste an institution recycles (0 to 2 points depending on percentage change compared to other institutions)

Change in waste mass per head an institution produces (0 to 4 points depending on percentage change compared to other institutions)

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10. Carbon emissions per head

As well as monitoring universities’ carbon management plans and targets the Green League also aims to track performance in actual emissions.

People & Planet has chosen to measure the carbon dioxide per head for each university. That is, the total kg of CO2 equivalent emitted from energy use (oil, coal, gas, grid electricity, steam/hot water) divided by the population of the university. Population is calculated according to a ‘full time equivalent’ measurement, for both staff and students.

The criteria only quantifies direct emissions from energy, heating and electricity. It excludes significant other indirect emissions, for example from procurement, travel or flying. And it does not take account of varying circumstances on campus such as the age of buildings, more energy-intensive research, how many animals are kept on site (apologies to the Royal Veterinary College) or the extent of campus-provided accommodation. Alternative indicators such as CO2 per metre squared of building space or per pound spent are equally open to such criticism.

Due to changes in the electricity to carbon emissions conversion factors used by EMS all institutions’ carbon emissions from electricity will appear to have risen significantly over last year. In light of this the Green League 2009 will not be awarding points on how carbon emissions have increased compared to last year. The Green League 2009 will instead award points based on how an institution’s carbon emissions reduction compares to other institutions’ reductions.

Point allocation: (8 points)

Institution’s carbon emissions per head (0 to 4 points depending on carbon emissions per head compared to other institutions)

Change in carbon emissions per head relative to other institutions (0 to 4 points depending on percentage improvement compared to other institutions)

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11. Water consumption per head

Each person in the UK currently uses about 150 litres of water every day. This has been rising by 1% each year since 1930. This is not a consumption level which is sustainable in the long-term. On current trends, over the next 20 years humans will use 40% more water than they do now.

Some universities are beginning to take steps to reduce their water consumption by installing grey water systems (for example). We applaud these initial efforts and encourage other institutions to follow suit.

To recognise the different water needs of institutions points will be awarded for the percentage improvements in water consumption per head as well as overall water consumption.

Point allocation: (8 points)

Water consumption per head (0 to 4 points awarded depending on water consumption per head compared to other institutions)

Change in water consumption per head (0 to 4 points depending on percentage change compared to other institutions)

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Grades

Grade boundaries will be set after the scores are collated.

Which universities are assessed?

People & Planet will assess 131 UK universities based on the full membership of Universities UK.

How has the information been collected?

Research for criteria 1-5

Information for criteria 1-5 is gathered by the Green League 2009 which is submitted to universities as a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act / Environmental Information Regulations. The responses to this questionnaire will be analysed by a team of student researchers.

Research for criteria 6

Fairtrade University accreditation information is supplied directly by the Fairtrade Foundation.

Research for criteria 7

Sound Impact Environmental Award accreditation information is supplied directly by NUS Services Ltd.

Research for criteria 8-11.

The remaining criteria relate to on-the-ground environmental performance outcomes. This information comes from Estate Management Statistics (EMS), obtained through a freedom of information request to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and computed by People & Planet.

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