Aston University - People & Planet University League 2021: Full results

Overall Summary

People & Planet University League award class: 1st

Aston University scored 69.5% and ranked 17th equal

Section 1: Policy and Strategy

 

1.1 Publicly Available Policy

We looked at Aston University's publicly available environmental policy - you can read it here if we found one - but if we didn't find a policy on the university website then you won't find a link:

www.aston.ac.uk/sites/default/files/sustainability-strategy_1.doc" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">www.aston.ac.uk/sites/default/files/sustainability-strategy_1.doc

We wanted to see that the policy wasn't just sitting in a dusty desktop year after year and we needed to know that the policy meant something to staff, students and decision makers at the university. So to score 50% here, the policy needed to have been published within the last 5 years and demonstrate that it was reviewed regularly by someone sitting in a senior position at the university.

1.1 Aston Universityscored: 50%/ 50% for their environmental policy

1.2 Targets and Strategy

The university could only score the full marks of 50% if they had set SMART targets in all 8 of key areas below, and if we could see that the strategy had been reviewed in the last 5 years, (much like the environmental policy, a strategy only works if people are using it), and we didn't give credit for strategies that were out of date. We decided that if a university wasn't setting targets for more than 5 key areas then it didn't amount to a comprehensive and they would score zero. Scores increase in line with the number of key areas the university had set targets for when considering:

  • Construction & Refurbishment
  • Emissions & Discharges
  • Community involvement
  • Biodiversity
  • Waste management
  • Travel and Transport
  • Sustainable procurement
  • Water

We found that Aston University is working towards targets in the following areas:

Waste management, Water, Construction and Refurbishment, Emissions and Discharges

Therefore...

1.2. Aston University scored 0%/50% for their sustainability strategy

Section Total: 50%

  • 50%/50 Publicly available policy
  • 0%/50 SMART Targets

Section 2: Staff

 

2.1 Senior Staff Responsibility

We looked to see whether someone in the university senior management team has responsibility for sustainability. It really helps when climate change and ethical issues are the responsibility of someone who can make decisions about how the action points can be resourced. If a senior member of staff has responsibility for sustainability, you can find them here:

www2.aston.ac.uk/environment/Contact%20Us" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">www2.aston.ac.uk/environment/Contact%20Us

2.1. Aston University scored 20%/20% for senior responsibility for sustainability.

2.2 Number of Sustainability Staff

We also wanted to see how many staff were currently employed to work on sustainability issues, and whether students and staff could find them easily online and contact them. We thought the number of sustainability staff should be relative to the number of staff and students at the university.

Aston University has more than 15000 students students and 7.00 sustainability staff

Therefore...

2.2 Aston University scored 30%/55% for dedicated and expert staff

2.3 Sustainability Budget

Once a university has employed staff, it can be hard for them to do their job without money available. People & Planet looked for evidence that the sustainability strategy was resourced with a budget and that costs were included as part of the commitment.

2.3 Aston University scored 10%/10% for staff sustainability budget

2.4 All Staff Participation

We looked at whether the university supported a staff engagement scheme (like Eco-Champions or inter-departmental green team competitions) to engage all staff across the university in environmental and ethical practice through training, workshops and projects.
 

2.4 Aston University scored 15%/15% for all staff participation

Section Total: 75%

  • 20%/20 Senior Staff
  • 30%/55 Sustainability Staff
  • 10%/10 Budget
  • 15%/15 Staff Engagement

Section 3. Environmental Auditing & Management Systems

3.1a Externally Verified Environmental Management System (EMS)

 

If Aston University has been externally audited you will see the EMS scheme and level awarded below

IS014001 Full estate

3.1a Aston University scored 100%/100% for its externally verified EMS

Section Total: 100%

  • 100%/100 External EMS

Section 4: Ethical Investment and Banking

4.1a Ethical Investment Policy

Investments in the fossil fuel industry or arms trade can be contradictory to an institutions broader sustainability aims and goals. A strong ethical investment policy makes sure an institution’s investments and banking practices are conducted transparently and in an economically-viable, socially-responsible manner. Points were awarded for covering the full scope of an institution's investments and being signed off by a senior member of staff. If Aston University has an ethical investment policy, it can be found below:

www.aston.ac.uk/sites/default/files/ethical-investment-policy-revised-2019-final-30oct.pdf" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">www.aston.ac.uk/sites/default/files/ethical-investment-policy-revised-2019-final-30oct.pdf

4.1a Aston University scored 10/10% for its ethical investment policy

4.1b. Specifics within the policy:

Addititonal points were awarded for specific within the policy:

  • include student representation on their investment committee
  • publicly listing their investments annually

4.1b Aston University scored 10/15% for specific within its ethical investment policy

4.2 Commitment to screen out specific sectors

Universities who have made a commitment in policy to screen out specific sectors, such as fossil fuel companies, arms companies and companies in violation of international law.

4.2a Aston University scored 35/35% for its commitment in policy to screen out fossil fuel investments

4.2b Aston University scored 5/10% for its commitment in policy to screen out investments in arms companies

4.2c Aston University scored 5/5% for its commitment in policy to screen out investments in companies in violation of international law

4.3 Reinvesting Divested Funds

Universities were awarded points for commitments in policy to reinvest divested funds in renewable energy or on community-owned energy on campus.

4.3 Aston University scored 0/10% for its commitment in policy to reinvest divested funds

4.4 Ethical Banking

Universities were awarded points for having an ethical banking policy reported on at senior level. If Aston University has an ethical banking policy you will find it below

www.aston.ac.uk/about/statutes-ordinances-regulations/publication-scheme" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">www.aston.ac.uk/about/statutes-ordinances-regulations/publication-scheme

4.4a Aston University scored 0/5% for its ethical banking policy

4.4b Aston University scored 0/5% for excluding banks that finance fossil fuels in its ethical banking policy

4.5 Transparency and accountability

In the interests of transparency and accountability, universities were rewarded for hosting key policy documents publicly on their websites.

4.5a Aston University scored 1/1% for having an easily accessible and public ethical investment policy.

4.5b Aston University scored 0/1% for having an easily accessible and public annual list of investments.

4.5c Aston University scored 1/1% for having an easily accessible and public list of committee members that oversee investments.

4.5d Aston University scored 0/1% for having an easily accessible and public meeting minutes that provide updates on investment policy reviews and divestment/investment status

4.5e Aston University scored 0/1% for having an easily accessible and public ethical banking policy.

Section Total: 67%

  • 10/10 Ethical Investment Policy
  • 10/15 Specifics in Policy
  • 35/35 Fossil Fuel Exclsuion
  • 5/10 Arms Company Exclusion
  • 5/5 International Law Exclusion
  • 0/10 Reinvestment
  • 0/5 Ethical Banking
  • 0/5 Exclude Fossil Fuels
  • 1/1 Has Policy
  • 0/1 Has Investment List
  • 1/1 Lists committee
  • 0/1 Meeting Minutes
  • 0 Ethical Banking

Section 5: Managing Carbon

 

5.1 Carbon Management Plan

Universities should all have a plan for managing and reducing their carbon emissions, if Aston University has a carbon management plan you will find it below:

www2.aston.ac.uk/environment/Documents/Carbon%20Managment%20Plan%20-%202019.pdf" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">www2.aston.ac.uk/environment/Documents/Carbon%20Managment%20Plan%20-%202019.pdf

We awarded points for specifics within that carbon management plan:

5.1a Aston University scored 5/5% for a carbon emissions baseline for 2005 or later which covers all scope 1 and 2 emissions.

5.1b Aston University scored 5/5% for  a carbon reduction target for covering scope 1 & 2, consistent with an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 at a minimum AND at least one milestone towards this target before 2030

5.1c Aston University scored 5/5% for a budget for the carbon reduction plan.

5.1d Aston University scored 5/5% for named persons or titles responsible for the carbon reduction plan.

5.1e {Aston University scored 5/5% for a reporting mechanism for monitoring the carbon management plan.

5.2 Carbon Management and scope 3 emissions

5.2a Aston University scored 5/5% for including scope 3 emissions in the carbon management plan

5.2b Aston University scored 5/5% for reporting scope 3 emissions to HESA via the EMR record

5.2c Aston University scored 0/5%* for calculating total carbon emissions relating to residential accommodation.

*A software error in the recording of Q5.2c data resulted in the scoring of this question being omitted for all universities in the 2021 League Table.

5.3 Scope 3 Baselines and Targets

Aston University's carbon management plan was found to have scope 3 baselines in the following areas:

Waste, Water, Procurement, Travel: business trips, Travel: commute

5.3a Therefore they scored 25%/30% for the scope 3 baselines in their carbon management plan

Aston University's carbon management plan was found to have scope 3 targets in the following areas:

Waste, Water, Procurement, Travel. business trips, Travel. commute

5.3b Therefore they scored 25%/30% for the scope 3 targets in their carbon management plan

Section total: 85%

  • 5/5 2005 emissions baseline
  • 5/5 CO2 Target
  • 5/5 CO2 Reduction Budget
  • 5/5 Named Persons
  • 5/5 Reporting
  • 5/5 Scope 3 in CMP
  • 5/5 Scope 3 to HESA
  • 0/5 Residential*
  • 25/30 Scope 3 Baselines
  • 25/30 Scope 3 Targets

*A software error in the recording of Q5.2c data resulted in the scoring of this question being omitted for all universities in the 2021 League Table.

Section 6: Workers' Rights

 

6.1 A Living Wage University

Aston University's Living Wage Accredited employer status in July 2021 was: not accredited Living Wage employer

6.1 Aston University scored 0%/30%

6.2 Equality for Outsourced Staff

Points were awarded if universities had a policy that monitors equality of pay and conditions between in-house and outsourced staff.

6.2 Aston University scored 0%/15%

6.3 Fairtrade

Aston University's Fairtrade status in July 2021 was University does not have Fairtrade status

6.3 Aston University scored 10%/10%

6.4 Monitoring and Reforming the Supply Chain

Universities were awarded points if they were a member of Electronics Watch or Purchasing Consortium

6.4 Aston University scored 40/45%

Section total: 50%

  • 0/30 Living Wage
  • 0/15 External Staff
  • 10/10 Fairtrade
  • 40/45 Supply Chains

Section 7: Sustainable Food

 

7.1 Sustainable Food Policy

If the university has a policy on sustainable food reported on at senior level you will find it below:

www2.aston.ac.uk/environment/Documents/Sustainable%20Food%20Action%20Plan.pdf" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">www2.aston.ac.uk/environment/Documents/Sustainable%20Food%20Action%20Plan.pdf

7.1 Aston University scored 0%/15% for its sustainable food policy.

7.2 Contracts

This question pertains to food procured through individual suppliers, consortia and other catering purchasing organisations, and to the catering contracts and sub-contracts held, tendered and re-tendered by universities where catering services might be outsourced, i.e. halls of residence catering provisions or staff and student dining provisions.

7.2 Aston University scored 0%/20% for its tender specifications within food policy.

7.3 Sustainable Food Framework

One of the most common ways to measure commitment to sustainable catering in the public sector is through the achievement of an externally assessed sustainable food award, such as the Soil Association’s Food for Life Served Here award, or the Food Made Good Membership by the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

7.3 Aston University has None and therefore received 0/50%

7.4 Community Food

7.4 Aston University scored 15%/15% for providing space or support for community food projects

Section total: 15%

  • 0/15 Food Policy
  • 0/20 Tender Specifications
  • 0/50 Food Accreditation
  • 15/15 Community Food

Section 8: Staff and Student Engagement

 

8.1 Staff and Student Engagement Strategy

Points were awarded for publishing a strategy detailing how universities will engage students and staff. If they had a staff and student engagement strategy you will find it below:

www2.aston.ac.uk/environment/Documents/Engagement%20Strategy%202018-19.pdf" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">www2.aston.ac.uk/environment/Documents/Engagement%20Strategy%202018-19.pdf

8.1 Aston University scored 30/30% for having a publicly available student an staff engagement strategy.

8.2 Student and Staff Engagement Actions

8.2a Aston University scored 0/5% for offering oversight and involvement opportunities to students and staff for the development and ongoing monitoring of the university Carbon Management Plan.

8.2b Aston University scored 5/5% for offering oversight and involvement opportunities to students and staff for the development and ongoing monitoring of the university environmental policy.

8.2c Aston University scored 0/5% for embedding environmental policy in every student induction.

8.2d Aston University scored 5/5% for actively supporting an environment themed week.

8.2e Aston University scored 0/5% for supporting local community partnerships.

8.2f Aston University scored 5/5% for providing funds for student led sustainability projects.

8.3 Staff Inductions

8.3 Aston University scored 0%/10% for including sustainability policy in staff inductions.

8.4 Trade Union engagement

8.4 Aston University scored 10%/10% for inviting trade union members to sit on committees that oversee sustainability.

8.5 Student Representation

8.5 Aston University scored 10%/10% for student representatives to sit on committees that oversee sustainability.

8.6 Student's Union

8.6 Aston University scored 10%/10% for the student union working towards continual improvement in environmental sustainability

Section Total: 75%

  • 30/30 Engagement Strategy
  • 0/5 CMP Involvement
  • 5/5 Strategy Involvement
  • 0/5 Student Inductions
  • 5/5 Environment Week
  • 0/5 Community Partnerships
  • 5/5 Student Projects
  • 0/10 Staff Inductions
  • 10/10 Trade Union
  • 10/10 Student Representation
  • 10/10 Student Union

Section 9: Education for Sustainable Development

 

9.1 Commitment and Governance for Education for Sustainable Development.

If the university demonstrates commitment to ESD through a high level of strategy, find out how below:

The university Teaching and Learning strategy

9.1 Aston University scored 20%/20% for demonstrating commitment to ESD.

9.2 Implementing and tracking progress in Education for Sustainable Development

If the university is using a strategy to map its progress towards integrating ESD into the curriculum, find out how below:

University uses an external scheme such as NUS Responsible Futures

9.2a Aston University scored 25/25% for using a strategy for ESD.

9.2b Aston University scored 20/20% for using a reporting mechanism for ESD.

9.3 Supporting Academic Staff

If the university provides support and training to academic staff on ESD you will see how below:

Provision of training in ESD.

9.3 Aston University scored 10%/10% for providing training and support to academic staff for ESD

9.4 Education for Sustainable Development Actions

9.4a Aston University scored 10/10% for using its campus as a living lab.

9.4b Aston University scored 10/10% for highlighting research in sustainability.

9.5 Equal Access to Higher Education

9.5a Aston University scored 0/2% for offering multiple scholarships to asylum seekers and individuals who have been granted a status as a result of an asylum claim, but do not yet have access to student finance.

9.5b Aston University scored 0/2% for offering multiple scholarships to students from other forced migrant backgrounds.

9.5c Aston University scored 0/1% for including BOTH asylum seekers and individuals who have been granted a status as a result of an asylum claim, but do not have access to student finance AND individuals from other forced migrant backgrounds in their Access and Participation plan.

Section Total: 95%

  • 20/20 ESD Strategy
  • 25/25 ESD Framework
  • 20/20 ESD Reporting
  • 10/10 Academic Training
  • 10/10 Living Lab
  • 10/10 Sustainability Research
  • 0/2 Equal Access 1
  • 0/2 Equal Access 2
  • 0/1 Access and Participation

Section 10: Energy Sources

This section has been taken directly from the 2019/2020 Estates Management Record from the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Universities have been scored by banding values into groups.

10a Aston University scored 0/45% for having onsite Combined Heat and Power (CHP).

10b Aston University scored 17.5/35% for its percentage of renewable energy generated onsite or off site compared to consumption of grid electricity.

10c Aston University scored 20/20% for its total percentage of renewable energy purchased through green tariffs.

Section Total: 37.5%

  • 0/45 CHP
  • 17.5/35 Renewable %
  • 20/20 Green Tariff %

Section 11: Waste and Recycling

This section has been taken directly from the 2019/2020 Estates Management Record from the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Universities have been scored by banding values into groups.

11.1 Aston University scored 25/50% for the percentage waste recycled, composted or anaerobically digested, excluding construction waste (that classified as “other” in the EMR)

11.2 Aston University scored 37.5/50% for the percentage waste recycled, composted or anaerobically digested, excluding construction waste per head of FTE students and staff.

Section Total: 62.5%

  • 25/50 % Reused
  • 37.5/50 Waste mass per head

Section 12: Carbon Reduction

This section has been taken directly from the 2019/2020 Estates Management Record from the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Universities have been scored by banding values into groups.

12.1 Aston University scored 30/50% for its change in carbon intensity.

12.2 Aston University scored 50/50% for its reduction in scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions since a 2005 baseline.

Section Total: 80%

  • 30/50 Yearly CO2 Reduction
  • 50/50 2005 CO2 Reduction

Section 13: Water Reduction

This section has been taken directly from the 2019/2020 Estates Management Record from the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Universities have been scored by banding values into groups.

13.1 Aston University scored 50.25/67% for its water consumption per head.

13.2 Aston University scored 0/33% for its use of grey or rainwater.

Section Total: 50.25%

  • 50.25/67 Water Reduction
  • 0/33 Grey Water