Aston University People & Planet University League 2017 Scorecard

Award class badge: 1st

Section Score
1. Environmental Sustainability; Policy and Strategy 90
2. Human Resources for Sustainability 85
3. Environmental Auditing & Management Systems 100
4. Ethical Investment 35
5. Carbon Management 90
6. Workers Rights 25
7. Sustainable Food 70
8. Staff and Student Engagement 80
9. Education for Sustainable Development 55
10. Energy Sources 80
11. Waste and Recycling 75
12. Carbon Reduction 77.5
13. Water Reduction 44.5

Section 1. Environmental Sustainability; Policy and Strategy

90%

The full methodology for this section can be found here.

We looked at Aston University's publicly available environmental policy - you can read it here if we found one:

www.aston.ac.uk/EasySiteWeb/GatewayLink.aspx

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 (because if the university is failing to uphold their policy, then someone should know about it ..... and be able to do something about it).

1) Aston University scored: 50 / 50% for their environmental policy

Next we looked at whether the policy was accompanied with a plan for action or Sustainability Strategy, you can read it here if we one found one:

www.aston.ac.uk/EasySiteWeb/GatewayLink.aspx

The university could only score 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environmental policy, a strategy only works if people are using it), and we didn't give credit for strategies that were out of date:

  • 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, Transport, Sustainable Procurement, Water, Construction and Refurbishment, Community involvement and Biodiversity

Therefore...

2) Aston University scored 40 / 50% for their sustainability strategy.

85% Section 2. Human Resources for Sustainability

85%

The full methodology for how we score this section here.

Having a policy on environment and ethics is a good start - working out how to meet the policy with a strategy is a great start - next we wanted to see how well Aston University resource their policy and strategy. You can't meet your targets without dedicated staff to do all the hard work!

We looked to see whether environmental sustainability if someone in the university senior management team has responsibility for sustainability. It really helps when climate and social justice issues are the responsibility of someone who can make decisions about how the action can be resourced. If we found that someone, you can read about them here: www.aston.ac.uk/about/management-structure/aston-university-executive/executive-directors-and-officers/alan-charters-chief-of-operations-and-estates/

1) Aston University scored 20/20% for senior responsibility for sustainability

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 also be shown in relation to the number of staff and students at the university.

Aston University has 8860 students,1000 - 2000 staff and 7 sustainability staff

When assessing the number of dedicated sustainability staff at Aston University - we looked for the following info:

  • job title / role
  • contact info
  • specific area of sustainability

If we found that information, here's the link: www.aston.ac.uk/environment/contact/

2) Aston University scored 40/55% for numbers of sustainability staff

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.

3) Aston University scored 10/10% for evidence of a budget to fund the sustainability strategy.

It isn't just the job of sustainability staff ... the whole university community is key to the culture of sustainable development, and when properly supported, they can make all the difference!
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.

4) Aston University scored 15/15% for supporting a staff engagement scheme.

100% Section 3. Environmental Auditing & Management Systems

100%

The full methodology for this section is here.

We looked at how well Aston University manages and audit their environmental performance and progress. If you can't measure it, you can't improve it!

Aston University is accredited to an externally verified environmental management system (EMS). It scored 100/100% for the level and coverage of its EMS.

P.S We know this all sounds very technical ... find out more about Environmental Management Systems

35% Section 4. Ethical Investment

35%

Want more? The full methodology for this section is here.

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 ensures an institution’s investments and banking practices are conducted transparently and in an economically-viable, socially-responsible manner.

1a) Aston University scored 10/10% for having a publicly available ethical investment policy. The policy is here if we found one: www.aston.ac.uk/about/management-structure/university-governance/university-regulation/ethical-investment-policy/

1b) and  15/60% for including specifics within the policy, including: Students on committee 10 and Public investments 5

2) Aston University scored 10/10% for reviewing and making progress on the policy's objectives - which is here is we found it: (N/A)

3) 0/20% for making a public announcement that it won't invest in fossil fuels and or arms, and if they have, you'll find it here: (N/A)

When looking at our Fossil Free university campaign aims, here's Aston University's own Fossil Free outlook:

Divestment Commitment partial
Divested from coal and tar sands but not other Fossil Fuels.

Fossil Free Scorecard: Aston University

Investments

£189,376
Invested in fossil fuels. That’s 6.4% of total endowment fund of £2,959,000
Data estimated from FoI

Research funding

(No research funding from fossil fuel industry.)

£34,361 Public-funded research into fossil fuel industry.

£892,108 Research funding into renewables industry since 2001.

Fossil Fuel Industry Links

Honorary degrees awarded to: 3 honorary degrees awarded to CEOs and Directors of BP and Shell.
Board positions given to Fossil Fuel industry: No positions on boards/committees awarded to fossil fuel company executives.

Banking

Lloyds £40.3m in bank
Santander ATMs on campus Branches on campus
Fossil fuel extraction research funding excludes oils and gas. Data will be available soon.
Divested via their fund manager CCLA.

90% Section 5. Carbon Management

90%How well is Aston University managing its carbon emissions?

Want more? The full methodology for this section is here.

As it's a funding requirement, there aren't many universities that don't have a plan for managing and reducing carbon emissions, here's what we found: www.aston.ac.uk/environment/policy/

1) Aston University scored 25/25% for having a publicly available carbon management plan that meets set standards

Jargon buster: the following are examples of greenhouse gas emissions called 'scope 3' emissions: business travel, student and staff commute travel, student end of term travel home, supply chain (stuff the university buys) and waste (i.e. rubbish).

2a) 5/5% for including scope 3 emissions within the university Carbon Management Plan.

2b) 5/5% for reporting the university's scope 3 emissions to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). 

In the most recent year, Aston University reported emissions from: waste, business travel , staff commute and supply chain to HESA.

It's important that universities aren't forgetting their halls of residences or other student and staff accommodation when thinking about carbon emissions. If we found info on this, it will be here: www.aston.ac.uk/environment/policy/

2c) Aston University scored 5/5% for publishing carbon emission data related to both in-house and externally provided student accommodation.

3) Aston University scored 25/30% for including baseline figures for scope 3 carbon emissions  in the following: Waste , Water , Procurement, Travel. business trips and Travel. commute.

Aston University  scored 25/30% for including targets to reduce scope 3 carbon emissions including Waste , Water , Procurement, Travel. business trips and Travel. commute.

25% Section 6. Workers Rights

25%Is Aston University behaving responsibly to those it employs and those who work in its supply chains?

Want more? The full methodology for this section is here.

1) Aston University scores 0/25% for being a Living Wage accredited employer.

2) Aston University scores 15/15% for being a Fairtrade status University

3) Aston University scores 10/40% for improving workers rights in the university's ITC supply chain by working with Electronics Watch

4) Aston University scores 0/20% for improving workers rights in an area of the university supply chain other than electronics

70% Section 7. Sustainable Food

70%How sustainable is the food and catering at Aston University?

Want more? The full methodology for this section is here.

1) Aston University scores 10/10% for having a publicly available sustainable food policy meeting set standards

If we found one, it should be here: www.aston.ac.uk/environment/policy/

2) Aston University scores 20/50% for continual improvement in sustainable food across the university catering outlets and conference services through a sustainable food framework and for the level reached on that framework OR for sustainable food activities

3) Aston University scores 10/10% for specifying that contract caterers and suppliers meet the requirements of the university sustainable food policy

4a) Aston University scores 5/5% for being certified to the Marine Stewardship Council standards - ensuring traceability of sustainable fish all the way to your plate

4b) Aston University scores 5/5% for using local food in university catering or campus to kitchen food projects

4c) Aston University scores 5/5% for providing free access to drinking water across the university and for highlighting where this can be found on the university website (here if we found it): www.aston.ac.uk/environment/

5) Aston University scores 15/15% for providing space or other resources for university community food projects

If they are, you can find out more here: www.aston.ac.uk/environment/wildlife/

80% Section 8. Staff and Student Engagement

80%

How well is Aston University engaging its staff and students in sustainability?

Need more? The full methodology for this section is here.

1) Aston University scores 50/60% for having a strategy in place for student and staff engagement that includes a framework to track progress against smart targets and for including the following engagement actions:

c student induction, d go green or environment themed week, e climate or sustainability or social change campaigns reaching the whole university community, f providing resources or funding for student or staff led sustainability projects and g university has set strategy and targets for student and staff engagement

  • Oversight and involvement of students and staff in the development and ongoing monitoring of the university Carbon Management Plan.
  • Oversight and involvement of students and staff in the development and ongoing monitoring of the university environment or sustainability policy / plan / strategy.
  • Engagement opportunities for sustainability are a component of student induction processes.
  • University actively supports an annual Go Green Week or environment / sustainability week.
  • The university runs environmental sustainability campaigns that reach all students and staff.
  • Availability of university funds and / or resources /support for student or staff-led practical sustainability projects

2) Aston University scores 10/10% for evidence that the university sustainability policy is included in staff inductions, and if it is, you can see more here: (N/A)

3) Aston University scores 0/10% for Trades Union representation on the membership of sustainability strategy committees

4) Aston University scores 10/10% for student representation on university committees concerned with estates, planning, finance and strategic decision making. 

5) Aston University scores 10/10% for students' union progress towards environmental sustainability.

55% Section 9. Education for Sustainable Development

55%

How well is Aston University including sustainability in its education?

Need more? The full methodology for this section is here.

1) Aston University scores 20/20% for its public commit to education for sustainable development (ESD)

2a) Aston University scores25/50% for having a framework or strategy for ESD

2b)

3) Aston University scores 0/10% for providing suitable support and training for ESD

4) Aston University scores 0/10% for evidence of student coursework linked to sustainability projects to improve the environmental manegement of the university (often called the Living Lab)

5) 10/10% for supporting or highlighting School, Faculty or Research team projects for Sustainability, including the pedgagogy of sustainability

80% Section 10. Energy Sources

80%Where does Aston University get its energy from?

Need more? The full methodology for this section is here.

1) Aston University scores 45/45% for using combined heat and power (CHP) energy.

2) Aston University scores 35.0/35% for generating some its own electricity (the more it generates the higher the score).

3) Aston University scores 0.0/20% for buying some or all of its electricity from renewable sources. 

75% Section 11. Waste and Recycling

75%

How does Aston University perform on waste, as compared to other universities?

Need more? The full methodology for this section is here.

1) Aston University scores 37.5/50% for recycling 58.67% of its waste.

2) Aston University scores 37.5/50% for the amount of waste per head (staff and students) compared to the rest of the sector.

77.5% Section 12. Carbon Reduction

77.5%

How well is Aston University reducing its carbon emissions?

Need more? The full methodology for this section is here.

1) 40.0/50% for carbon intensity change over the last 12 months (since the last University League).

2) 37.5/50% for achieving a 32.65% reduction in its carbon emissions since a 2005 baseline.

44.5% Section 13. Water Reduction

44.5%How responsibly is Aston University using water?

Need more? The full methodology for this section is here.

1) 33.5/67% for its use of water per head (staff and students) compared to other universities

2) 11.0/33% for use of grey water (like rain water harvesting)

Over the last year there have been many exciting accomplishments at Aston. The University achieved ISO 50001 certification, which will soon be fully integrated with the already well established ISO 14001 certification. Carbon Week was run for the first time in November 2015 as a 5 day programme for all second year students aiming to raise awareness of climate change and low-carbon design. The week included various talks, debates, comedy and employer workshops, providing all year 2 students with the knowledge and skills needed for a low-carbon world. Aston University has continued to encourage staff and students to use sustainable transport whenever possible. A travel survey carried out in 2015 found that 92% of students indicated they traveled to University by foot, bicycle or public transport. The number of staff and students cycling increased by 1.5% and 1% respectively compared to results from the previous survey in 2013/14. A Brompton Bike Hire unit was installed on campus offering discounted bike hire membership to staff and students. Aston are in the final stages of connecting its CHP district heating scheme to the wider Birmingham Heating network that will link the University to New Street Station, the NIA and a number of Birmingham City Council Buildings. This will improve the efficiency of the heat provided to the University as well as third party connections. Furthermore, it will soon connect the European Bioenergy Research Building onto the same scheme which will let them send waste heat from their research plant to the network.

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