University College Cork


UCC’s Green Campus Programme

University College Cork’s (UCC) Green Campus Programme is an example of a bottom-up initiative, which was met with a top-down commitment from university management and has resulted in transformational change across the whole institution, where sustainability is now at the heart of all strategies and decision-making processes. 

In operation since 2007, UCC Green Campus is “student-led, research-informed, and practice-focused”, and has seen the University become the first in the world to be awarded a Green Flag from the Foundation for Environmental Education and the first in Europe to receive a Gold STARS rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

Highlights over the last number of years include the establishment of the University’s Saver Saves Scheme for energy reductions, the development of an SDG teaching toolkit, the establishment of a Green Campus Living Laboratory Programme, the decision to rewild most of the green space on campus and student climate assemblies.

Annual carbon savings achieved with the initiative:

What the Judges Thought

An application with real ‘heart’. Cork have achieved so much by responding to grassroots leadership using their existing internal resources. They showcase over a decade’s worth of holistic work to create a whole- organisation approach to sustainability. They’re humble about their role as trailblazers for the Green Campus model and have implemented some complex initiatives - judges particularly liked the Saver Saves programme. This is a blueprint of what can be achieved through existing budgets with devolved leadership, partnership with students and a shared vision. 

What it Means to Win

"This award is a fitting recognition of the genuine commitment to sustainability at University College Cork.  UCC prides itself on being Ireland’s “Green” University and of sharing our learnings across the sector and beyond. We are committed to delivering a better future for us and our planet."

Professor John O’Halloran, President

Top 3 Learnings

  1. Quick wins are really important for getting people on board, longer term systemic change is needed to keep people engaged and involved. 
  2. It’s vital to meet people where they are at and always find new entry points in the institutional journey.
  3. Authenticity and transparency are the key to ensuring buy-in from stakeholders. It’s all about progress not perfection!
4 - Quality Education 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production

Sustainability Institution of the Year

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