Environmental Auditing & Management Systems

Only by analysis and regular audits of its different environmental impacts can an institution set targets, assess priorities and monitor trends, performance improvements or gaps.

In recognition of the rigour and accuracy of external environmental management systems, the People & Planet University League awards those universities that have opened themselves up to the external scrutiny of such schemes. In recognition of the incremental nature of accreditation for these schemes, we award points according to progress towards the highest achievable standard in each scheme, as well as taking into account whether or not the standard has been achieved across the majority of the estate and not simply on one campus/department.

Accreditation to an External Environmental Management System

(ISO14001, EMAS, Ecocampus, Green Dragon)

1. Does the university have an externally verified environmental management system (EMS), does it cover the whole university estate and what level of accreditation has been achieved.

Score 100%

This information is taken directly from the 2022/23 Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) Estates Management Record here:

If a university has not entered data or has entered data incorrectly, People & Planet must then score this question based on any evidence of audits, and the maximum score possible will be 30%.

The questions are coded by HESA as follows:

Part of D74d

Environmental management system existence (EEMSE)

Environmental management system external verification (EEMSEXV)

Environmental management system external verification coverage (EEMSEXVC)

HESA Codes and Label

  • 01 Acorn BS8555 partial

  • 02 Acorn BS8555 full

  • 03 Eco Campus Bronze

  • 04 Eco Campus Silver

  • 05 Eco Campus Gold

  • 06 Eco Campus Platinum

  • 07 EMAS

  • 08 Green Dragon

  • 09 ISO14001

  • 10 Other

BS8555 and Green Dragon:

If the university is accredited to Green Dragon or Acorn BS8555, we cannot allocate scores based on the level achieved on the certificate (i.e. Acorn has 6 levels) because HESA does not currently collect this information.

We will therefore be using the following scoring for BS8555 and Green Dragon systems.

Environmental Management System

Coverage of estate

Acorn BS8555

Green Dragon

Part of estate

Full estate

Full (level 6) HESA code 02

Full (level 5) HESA code 08



Partial (levels 1-5) HESA code 01




*After speaking with HESA in April 2022 it was confirmed that for Green Dragon providers need the complete 5 levels to return code 08. For levels 1-4 there is no code to return for this data item.

Environmental Management System

Percentage of University GIA covered by EMS

Eco Campus



Part of estate

Full Estate











EMAS registered

ISO14001 certified



If the university does not have an externally verified Environmental Management System it can still score in this section by demonstrating that the university is measuring and monitoring environmental aspects and impacts.

NB universities will not be assessed on the following auditing evidence if the EMR return shows that the university does have an externally verified EMS.

1. Has the institution carried out a comprehensive audit of environmental impacts in the last five years?

Score 30%

The People & Planet University League only awards scores to universities that have audited at a minimum 3 areas of of environmental impact. This process is a key element of Environmental Management and can form the first steps to university accreditation to an externally verified system.

Areas considered for audit:

  • Waste management

  • Travel and Transport

  • Sustainable Procurement

  • Energy

  • Water

  • Construction & Refurbishment

  • Emissions & Discharges

  • Biodiversity

Fewer than 3 audits – 0%

3-4 audits – 15%

5-6 audits – 20%

6-8 audits – 30%


  • We are looking for evidence which clearly highlights the baseline figures established by the audit in each area. We expect to see numerical published figures e.g tonnes CO2e

  • The audit does not have to cover the whole campus but it must clearly demonstrate that the impacts in that area are being effectively monitored and managed across the university (i.e. that the audit sample has been extrapolated to effectively measure the whole university by way of an indicator).

  • On the university website People & Planet will look for evidence of auditing within the Sustainability Strategy document or similar.

  • Publicly available reports of the audits highlighting the baseline figures established by the audit and the date when each audit was carried out will also be accepted.

  • Audits of learning, curriculum and research will be assessed in the section Education for Sustainable Development.

Only audits relating to holistic sustainability will be accepted. For example, carbon emissions associated with waste and travel are helpful for carbon management but for environmental management, these audits should baseline waste mass in tonnes and travel survey data should baseline travel habits and modes.

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