Colleges and universities alike won big at the prestigious Green Gown Awards held on Wednesday 15th November. Organised by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), the ceremony was held at Manchester’s magical The Monastery, in conjunction with the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, and local supporter University of Salford.

Showing institutions are not bound by their size when it comes to exceptional sustainability initiatives, winners ranged from Borders College to University of Cambridge, and projects were as diverse as 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. All applicants listed at least one SDG they were delivering. Two thirds (66%) of this year’s finalists are delivering ‘sustainable cities and communities’ and just under half (46%) are working towards ‘responsible consumption and production’. Finalists also reported they are tackling issues as far reaching as poverty, peace and climate action.

Winners

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. Meanwhile 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.

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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 SHRUB Co-op Edinburgh - the UK’s first student-led registered co-operative. Edinburgh’s Swap and Reuse Hub (SHRUB) Co-operative is 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 all emerged victorious with the most accolades. University of Winchester took Student Engagement and Food and Drink Awards, University of Southampton took two individual awards (Research and Development and Sustainability Professional), while University of Cambridge shared the Food and Drink crown with University of Winchester as well as gaining the Sustainability Reporting Award.

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.”

GREEN GOWNS UK AND IRELAND 2017 – FULL WINNERS LIST:

Best Newcomer

Borders College - Flushed with success! A UK first in sustainable energy from waste water

Carbon Reduction

Category Supporter: The Energy Consortium

Small Institution - The College of West Anglia - Greening West Anglia

Large Institution - University of Reading - Smashing 35

Community

Durham University - Van Mildert College Outreach

Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change

Category Supporter: Scottish Funding Council

Canterbury Christ Church University - Building a sustainable future: From start to beginning

Employability

Large Institution - Nottingham Trent University - Future-proof your career

Small Institution - Perth College UHI - Don’t waste your e-waste

Enterprise

SHRUB Co-op Edinburgh and The University of Edinburgh - Edinburgh’s Swap and Reuse Hub (SHRUB) Co-operative

Facilities and Services

The University of Birmingham and UniGreenScheme - University of Birmingham trials UniGreenSchemes resale service and in one year diverts 27,500kg into reuse and saves £45,000

Food and Drink

Category Supporter: TUCO

Small Institution - The University of Winchester - The big Winchester coffee cup innovation of 2016/17: From 3 to 33 in 100

Large Institution – Cambridge University - Making the right choice easy - Tasty food with a lower environmental impact

Learning and Skills

The University of Manchester - Whole institution sustainability engagement through innovative learning programmes

Research and Development

Category Supporter: SALIX

Student

Emily Haggett - University of Southampton

Institution

University of Salford - The Energy House

Student Engagement

Large Institution - Ayrshire College - Park Life

Small Institution - University of Winchester - This changes everything: 11 songs about climate change

Sustainability Reporting

Category Supporter: PwC UK

University of Cambridge

INDIVIDUAL AWARDS

Leadership Award

Category Supporter: Interface

Small Institution - Angus Allan - South Lanarkshire College

Large Institution - Professor Eunice Simmons - Nottingham Trent University

Sustainability Champion Award

Student

Indy Sira - The University of Warwick

Staff

Anne Perkins - Aston University

Sustainability Professional Award

Category Supporter: EAUC

Simon Kemp - University of Southampton

About the Green Gown Awards: Established in 2004, the Green Gown Awards recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges across the UK and Ireland. The Awards recognise the education sector as they lead a path to efficiency, employability and better quality of life for us all. The Green Gown Awards are administered by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) and are governed by a cross agency steering group.

As the ethos of the Green Gown Awards is to ensure the lessons and examples of best practice are shared within the sector and beyond, we are working hard with the partners of the Awards to ensure this information is disseminated far and wide. All the 2017 stage 2 Winners, Highly Commended and Finalists have created case studies and videos which are freely available on the sector owned Sustainability Exchange website. The dissemination of these best practice case studies is supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

The Green Gown Awards UK and Ireland, is further enhanced by its international presence. The Awards are also delivered on a regional basis in Australasia, French speaking Europe and Canada and the GUPES Green Gown Awards supported by the United Nations Environment. Winners of the three international categories: Community, Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change and Student Engagement go head-to-head for the coveted International Green Gown Awards which will take place on the 16th May 2018 in Marseille, France.

We would like to thank the Green Gowns UK and Ireland sponsors:

Supported by:

The Energy Consortium

Scottish Funding Council

TUCO

Salix

PwC UK

Interface

Delivered by: EAUC

Media Partner: University Business

Supporting the dissemination of the awards: HEFCE

Supporting the awards ceremony: The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan

Local supporter: University of Salford

Brochure supporter: Sharc Energy Systems

About EAUC: The EAUC represents institutions with over 2 million students and nearly 400,000 staff with a spending budget of over £25 billion. We exist to lead and empower the post-16 education sector to make sustainability 'just good business'. For more information, visit www.eauc.org.uk or follow us on Twitter @TheEAUC

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