Organised by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), the Green Gown Awards were held at Manchester’s The Monastery on Wednesday 15 November, in conjunction with the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, and University of Salford. A variety of sustainability initiatives saw winners ranging from Borders College to University of Cambridge, and projects ran a diverse gamut from climate change music albums to the UK’s first heat system that runs on sewage.
The Awards saw guests from institutions, companies and organisations across the UK and Ireland come to celebrate the educational initiatives, staff, and students helping address some of the most pressing global challenges. The 22 winners were selected from 113 worthy finalists, with categories including Employability, Community, Enterprise and Leadership.
EAUC CEO Iain Patton co-hosted the ceremony alongside poet and Chancellor of the University of Manchester, Lemn Sissay, MBE. Opening the awards, Iain said: “These initiatives are a shining example of the power education possesses and the importance those that work and study within it place on creating a better world and a new generation of change agents.” Chancellor of the University of Manchester, Lemn Sissay, MBE, said: “The leadership and innovation that we have seen tonight is truly awe inspiring. If all education institutions created individuals and initiatives like these, we would have a much brighter future full of leading lights.”
This year, for the first time, applicants were asked to map their entry against the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The finalists noted a combined total of 520 SDGs they were delivering against, with all applicants listingat least one SDG they were delivering. Two thirds of this year’s finalists were delivering ‘sustainable cities and communities’ and just under half (46%) were working towards ‘responsible consumption and production’. Finalists also reported they were tackling issues as far reaching as poverty, peace and climate action.
This year’s winners were as diverse as ever. Borders College scooped the Best Newcomer Award, with the UK’s first heating plant using sewage/waste water as a sustainable heat source for their campus. When fully optimised the system will provide a minimum of 95% of campus heat requirements.
Durham University’s Van Mildert College proved they live up to their motto ‘sic vos non vobis’ (not for yourselves), taking home the Community Award for six student-led projects supporting local families, schools and the elderly.
There were two new categories for the Awards this year. The Employability Award had a large and small institution winner: Nottingham Trent University’s business school for intrinsically linking sustainability with employability by embedding it at the heart of their curriculum, and Perth College UHI for their Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Centre that teaches students to refurbish equipment.
The second new category, the Enterprise Award, went to The University of Edinburgh and Swap and Reuse Hub (SHRUB) Co-operative Co-op Edinburgh – the UK’s first student-led registered co-operative, and a community-based social enterprise addressing issues of sustainability. Since they started eight years ago they have diverted 63,000 tons from landfill.
With two Awards each, University of Winchester, University of Southampton and University of Cambridge emerged with the most accolades.
“These initiatives are a shining example of the power education possesses.’
The Leadership category acknowledged two inspirational individuals: Professor Eunice Simmons from Nottingham Trent University and Angus Allan from South Lanarkshire College. They were applauded for their dedication to making the principles and values of sustainability central to their organisation at the highest levels. Commenting on the accolade, South Lanarkshire College Principal, Stewart McKillop, said: “This Award recognises the impact of embedding sustainability in an organisation’s ethos and priorities and engaging all staff and students in delivering a more sustainable future for everyone. Winning a Green Gown Award is the ultimate external endorsement of adopting “Promoting Sustainable Behaviours” as a core college Strategic Priority.”
Nottingham Trent University Vice Chancellor, Professor Edward Peck, added: “For Professor Simmons, winning the Green Gown Leadership Award is a significant endorsement of her career as an environmentalist and educator and terrific recognition of Nottingham Trent University’s strong commitment to the tenets of sustainable development.”
For further information on the night visit www.greengownawards.org