The role of EcoCampus in addressing sustainability in UK universities

Redfern, P. and Zhong, H. ORCID: 0000-0001-9604-4523, 2017. The role of EcoCampus in addressing sustainability in UK universities. Frontiers of Engineering Management, 4 (2), pp. 193-200. ISSN 2095-7513

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Universities are key drivers of sustainable development and are well-positioned to contribute to the sustainability agenda. Universities in the United Kingdom (UK) are themselves large and influential organisations, and because of their size, can have a significant impact on the environment. Their challenge, however, is to practice what they preach and to manage their own estates and procurement decisions to reduce their impact on the environment and meet carbon reduction targets. In the UK, higher education (HE) sector Scopes 1 and 2 carbon CO2e emissions have, over recent years, been falling considerably short of the emission reduction targets set by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) in all but a few institutions. Setting sector specific targets, therefore, does not guarantee success in addressing climate change. However, in those institutions adopting the EcoCampus management system approach, Scopes 1 and 2 carbon CO2e emissions have fallen by up to 5% over the latest reporting period (2013/2014–2014/2015). This contrasts with the increase in emissions from those institutions who currently do not have a certified management system and are currently at the bottom of the People and Planet University League Table. (This is an independent league table of UK universities ranked by environmental and ethical performance).
Environmental management systems (EMSs) are increasingly being used by organisations to improve their environmental performance. EMSs deliver many benefits such as reducing resource use and pollution, complying with relevant environmental legislation, managing risks, improving corporate reputation and saving costs.
The aim of this research was to assess the carbon management performance of universities in the UK and China and relate this to the level of uptake of EMSs in these universities. The results of this research informed the development of the EMS support and awards programme called EcoCampus. EcoCampus addresses the challenges faced by universities in reducing their carbon emissions by developing an EMS in simple stages with support in a variety of different forms. This self-financing programme has now been operating successfully for over ten years. During this time, EcoCampus has worked with over 60 universities and colleges in the UK. Eighteen participants have currently achieved the highest phase of EcoCampus and certification to the international EMS standard ISO14001. There are currently 40 universities, one research institute and three colleges enrolled on the various phases of the EcoCampus programme. There are five universities from the Russell Group including Cambridge University, Imperial College London, Nottingham University, Newcastle University and University College London. The EcoCampus programme is highly successful in the UK and there is growing interest from international universities wishing to join the programme. Seven of the top ten universities in the UK’s People and Planet University League Table are EcoCampus members. All the top ten universities in the League Table have shown a reduction in their carbon emissions. In contrast, the ten institutions at the bottom of the League don’t have a certified EMS and have increased their carbon emissions.
By identifying the benefits of an EMS, particularly in relation to carbon management, it is hoped that this paper will encourage organisations to develop, implement and operate an EMS. This should lead to a more sustainable sector able to lead by example.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Frontiers of Engineering Management
Creators: Redfern, P. and Zhong, H.
Publisher: Gaodeng Jiaoyu Chubanshe
Date: 17 July 2017
Volume: 4
Number: 2
ISSN: 2095-7513
Rights: © the author(s) 2017. Published by Higher Education Press. This is an open access article under the CC BY license.
Divisions: Schools > School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 10 Jan 2018 11:23
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2018 12:12

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