University of St Andrews clinches top prize at Green Gown Awards

The University of Cambridge won an award for publishing transparent data on its impact on the environment

The University of St Andrews has been named the sustainability institution of the year at the 2021 Green Gown Awards.

The UK Green Gowns administered by EAUC, the HE and FE sustainability charity, announced 14 prize winners in categories covering research, student engagement, campus developments and climate action.

Awards were judged by representatives of nearly 50 organisations, including UK Research and Innovation, Universities UK, the University and College Union, College and University Business Officers, Guild HE and the British Council.

The title of sustainability institution of the year – which “recognises sustained, whole-institution commitment and impact to becoming a sustainable organisation” – was handed to the University of St Andrews, which pledges to be net-zero emissions in “all forms of environmental degradation” by 2035. The university has formed an environmental sustainability board to oversee improvements in reducing emissions, improving biodiversity and developing a circular economy headed by a former chief scientific advisor to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Judges singled out for praise the St Andrews Network for Climate, Energy, Environment and Sustainability, which aims to build its research capabilities. The St Andrews Eden Campus, a former paper mill now home to a biomass plant, green spinout firms, hydrogen energy research and a future solar PV project, also won praise from the judges.

The Green Gowns said St Andrews “demonstrated well established cross-institution action with clear values-led leadership and ambition”. St Andrews also clinched the top prize in the student engagement category.

The 2030 climate action award – given for efforts to plan for net-zero emissions – was won by the University of Edinburgh and Bridgend College in the HE and FE categories. Bridgend College is planting 60,000 trees, installing green tech and pursuing “ethically-minded” partnerships. Edinburgh University has invested £7.4 million in pursuit of net-zero, launched a sustainable travel policy, and is reviewing its investments. The judges liked the science-based target approach taken by Edinburgh and the efforts to reduce scope three emissions.

The University of Cambridge won an award for reporting its impact on the environment. The judges commended their “honesty about performance and balance in the reporting”.

The Green Gown Award winners:

Building Back Better
Cardiff Metropolitan University

Benefitting Society
(Small Institution) Dumfries and Galloway College
(Large Institution) Newcastle University

Campus Health, Food and Drink
Nottingham Trent University

Campus of the Future
Dumfries and Galloway College

Durham University

Next Generation Learning and Skills
De Montfort University

Research with Impact – Institution
(Small Institution) South West College
(Large Institution) University of Derby

Research with Impact – Individual
University of Derby, Lea Barbett

Sustainability Champion
(Student) Serena Bashal, Keele University
(Staff) Daniela Farina, University of Exeter

Tomorrow’s Employees
The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol)

2030 Climate Action
(Small Institution) Bridgend College
(Large Institution) University of Edinburgh

Reporting with Influence
University of Cambridge

Student Engagement
University of St Andrews

Sustainability Institution of the Year
University of St Andrews

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