Posted Monday 6 November 2023
Kingston University's commitment to sustainability, both as an institution and through the development of student-led projects, has been recognised in the annual UK and Ireland Green Gown Awards, run in association with UKRI.
The awards, organised by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), celebrate exceptional sustainability initiatives and achievements within the higher education sector.
The University has been recognised for three projects across two categories in this year's awards. Its whole-institution approach towards achieving net zero saw it named among the finalists in the 2030 Climate Action category, while there were also two nominations for projects the University has either led or taken part in within the student engagement category.
The climate action shortlisting recognises the University's dedication to integrating sustainability principles into every facet of its activity, from curriculum development to campus infrastructure and energy management.
Kingston launched a five-year Sustainability Plan in 2021, encompassing initiatives ranging from reducing carbon emissions and waste to promoting biodiversity. This was followed by a comprehensive Sustainability Report published earlier this year. The plan set out targets to achieve net zero by 2038-39 for scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions and for scope 3 emissions by 2050, with the University having so far achieved a 68 per cent reduction in scope 1 and 2 emissions against a 2005-6 baseline.
In the student engagement category, the University was named a finalist for the Kingston Sustainability Innovation Challenge, launched by the Enterprise Education team to coincide with COP26 in Glasgow. It aimed to engage students in critical themes linked to sustainability and encourage them to see themselves as active agents of change. Through the project, students from across the institution engaged with external stakeholders, gained experience in sustainability-focused problem-solving and were empowered to act more sustainably and enact change.
The University was also one of 10 institutions recognised for their roles in organising the London Student Sustainability Conference, led by City University and held at King's College London in February. Some 42 students, representing 13 London universities, were given the opportunity to share how their research and extra-curricular activities helped tackle some of the world's most critical issues. Ten Kingston University students presented projects and three received awards as part of the initiative.
Providing students with opportunities to explore sustainability during their degrees was a key part of preparing them to go on and make a difference in the world after graduation, Mandy Ure, Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Inclusion and Sustainability, said. "Developing our students' sustainability skills and empowering them to understand how they can drive and champion change in their careers is hugely important," she said. "This work is being embedded across our teaching and research and though projects such as the Sustainability Innovation Challenge, which enable students to work with employers to understand the role they can play in tackling critical issues relating to climate and the environment."
Chief Operating Officer Caroline Harries said the Green Gown Awards recognition demonstrated how the University had placed sustainability at the heart of its activity. "Every one of us has a role to play in driving sustainable change and we have a responsibility to deliver on our ambitions for our students, who are part of a generation that will lead the way in creating a sustainable future society," she said. "I'm proud of the actions being taken by staff and students across the University that are contributing to achieving our sustainability goals, as we work towards achieving net zero through significantly reducing our carbon emissions."
Kingston University is among 102 finalists representing 65 institutions across the UK and Ireland. It is the only London university to have been shortlisted in the 2030 Climate Action category, highlighting its leadership within the capital in addressing the climate crisis. The results of the 2023 UK and Ireland Green Gown Awards will be unveiled at an awards ceremony on November 30.