As the Climate Crisis is increasingly recognised as the most pressing issue our world faces, the Green Gown Awards put a spotlight on the innovative and inspiring sustainability work taking place in universities and colleges to create a brighter future for their students.
This year’s UK and Ireland Green Gown Awards finalists represented over 1 million students and 162,000 staff. They are leading the way with their commitment to the global sustainability agenda and proving the value that universities and colleges bring to the wellbeing of society. Organised by EAUC - the Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education, the awards ceremony was held at Glasgow Science Centre on Tuesday 26th November 2019.
Winning initiatives ranged from social projects, like Ayrshire College’s ‘Passing Positivity’ campaign that aims to tackle the high prevalence of suicide in its community, to environmental projects, like University of Gloucestershire’s work in South Africa to develop low cost technology to reduce the poaching of white and black rhinoceros.
Solutions offered to some of the growing sustainability issues included Deposit Return Schemes, zero waste shops and 100% renewable energy powered campuses. Research from finalists covered ground breaking air quality studies, ways to improve sustainable production and consumption of cut flowers, tools to help calculate carbon sequestration in trees and engineering ideas to overcome water shortages.
Iain Patton, CEO at EAUC and co-host of the Green Gown Awards ceremony, said: “Now in its 15th year, the Green Gown Awards celebrate the very pinnacle of best practice in a sector that is well ahead of the curve on the sustainability agenda. The submissions this year were of an incredibly high calibre, tackling a huge array of sustainable development areas. It was a hard process to pick the winners, and it involved over 90 national and international judges.
“Addressing the Climate Emergency has been the focus of EAUC’s work this year and will continue to be a key priority over the months ahead through our work with the newly-formed Climate Commission which will work with UK institutions to ensure they reach the UK government’s target of reducing all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 at the very latest. It is a privilege to collaborate with the institutions recognised tonight, supporting them on pioneering initiatives that will contribute towards these emissions targets. There are a lot of questions at the moment from the general public, concerned about the Climate Crisis, concerned about how we will reach net zero, and these Awards identify and commend those that have some of the answers.”
For the second year running, the category ‘Outstanding Leadership Team of the Year’ was voted for live on the night. This award recognises the passionate staff driving their institution to be better – the 2019 winner, as voted for by the live audience after presentations from each of the category finalists, was the remarkable sustainability team at Nottingham Trent University.
Vice Chancellor at Nottingham Trent University, Professor Edward Peck, said:
“I am extremely proud of this Sustainability Team Green Gown Award. It is fantastic recognition of the strategic importance Nottingham Trent University places on sustainability. It is highlighted in all of our courses, supported by our research and fundamental to our high-performing estate – sustainability is in our DNA.”
There was a record number of finalists this year, with 101 brilliant initiatives across 14 categories, and 20 winners. Several of the categories had a large institution winner and a smaller institution winner – to recognise the different levels of capacity and resource of the institutions.
The Award’s co-host, Elizabeth Passey, Convener (Chairman) of the University of Glasgow, said: “It has been an honour to co-host the Green Gown Awards tonight, and it seems very apt that they have been held in Glasgow – which has committed to becoming the first UK net-zero city and is host City to COP 26 in 2020. The institutions recognised here tonight have been truly inspiring and highlight how much positive impact universities and colleges can have on their students, staff and communities.”
Winners' Press Release available for download at the foot of the page.
Winner (small institution) – Ayrshire College - #PassingPositivity Mental Health United
Winner (large institution) – Northumbria University – Student Law Office – facilitating access to justice in the North East
Highly Commended - Keele University - Community Legal Outreach Collaboration
Campus Health, Food and Drink
Winner (small institution) – Dundee and Angus College – Putting Planet before Profit
Winner (large institution) – The University of Edinburgh – Good food: Promoting healthy, sustainable and affordable food
Highly Commended - Schumacher College - Conscious food choices for sustainable living
Campus of the Future
Category Supporter: JISC
Category Supporter: CUBO
Winner (small institution) – Wiltshire College and University Centre – Apple Project
Winner (large institution) – City, University of London – The GreenSpark Award
Money for Good
Winner (small institution) – The London Institute of Banking and Finance – Reaching further in LiFE: Making personal finance accessible
Winner (large institution) – The University of Edinburgh – Investing for good: Social investment at the University of Edinburgh
Highly Commended - University of the West of England - UWE Bristol Community Fund
Next Generation Learning and Skills
Research with Impact – Institution
Category Supporter: Emerald Publishing
Highly Commended - Loughborough University - #SpitHappens
Sustainability Institution of the Year Award#
Category Supporter: EAUC
Highly Commended - Coleg Gwent - Cash4Change
Winner - The University of Edinburgh
Outstanding Leadership Team of the Year
Category Supporter: Interface UK
Winner - Nottingham Trent University
Highly Commended - Aston University
Highly Commended - University of Winchester
Research with Impact – Student
Winner (small institution) – Scott Stephens - Exeter College Technology Centre
Winner (large institution) – James Boyd – University of Leicester
Sustainability Champion Award – Student
Category Supporter: SALIX
Winner - Tom Bedford – Keele University
Sustainability Champion Award – Staff
Category Supporter: SALIX
Highly Commended - Dr Karen Thomas - Bournemouth University