Plymouth University turns competition green with envy after major sustainability success

Plymouth University has been recognised for its commitment to sustainability and the green agenda after it won a coveted Green Gown Award in London last night.

The University scooped the Continuous Improvement – Institutional Change honour, beating off the challenge of six other universities including Manchester, Edinburgh, Ulster, and Imperial College London.

Jenny Bushrod, Director of the Office of Procurement and Sustainability at the University; Professor Stephen Sterling, Head of Sustainability Education; and Alison Ashby, from the Institute of Sustainability Solutions Research, received the award in the form of a commemorative plaque at a gala reception at the Grand Connaught Rooms in the city.

Professor Wendy Purcell, Vice-Chancellor, said: "The Green Gowns are the most respected barometer of best practice in the sector, and so this award is fantastic recognition for the way that we have embedded sustainability across our institution. We have done this through our teaching, our research and the way we operate as an organisation.

"We've set ourselves some challenging targets, and will continue in our efforts to create sustainability-minded graduates, and through research, develop solutions for today's grand challenges."

Now in their seventh year, the Green Gown Awards recognise exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges across the UK. With sustainability moving up the agenda, the Awards have become established as the most prestigious recognition of best practice within the further and higher education sector.

The University’s entry focussed upon its three-pronged approach to sustainability: a commitment to institutional improvement through ambitious carbon management plans; using teaching to educate students on the principles of sustainability; and applying research to the development of new solutions – such as the new smartcard technology set to be used in the South West’s new transport scheme.

The judges, in awarding the honour to Plymouth, said: “The tri-cameral approach embracing university research, teaching and operations, is a powerful, holistic and systematic approach which has embraced staff, students, estates, curriculum and community well after external funding has ceased.

“The University has found its place as a catalyst for change in the city and region. Coupled with its commitment to sharing its growing institutional intelligence regarding the embedding of sustainability, the Plymouth experience is highly relevant and transferable to the sector.”

More than 240 entries were received across the different categories. The University, through its Students’ Union, was also short-listed in the Student Initiatives and Campaigns category for the volunteering work it has done as part of the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership.

The Green Gown Award is the latest sustainability-related accolade for the University, following on from its number one ranking in the People and Planet Green League in 2010, and its ISO14000:1 accreditation.

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