How the University of Reading became a leader in sustainability

The journey to sustainability at the University of Reading

Written by Robert Moore, Part 3 Geography student and Sustainability Assistant at the University of Reading

The Journey

The University of Reading began its sustainability journey 12 years ago, in 2006, with the Clean and Green scheme which eventually led to the creation of EEST (Environment, Energy and Sustainability Team) in 2008/09. The name of the team changed over time and finally evolved into Sustainability Services as we know it today. Currently, Sustainability Services consists of nine people (including 2 UoR student interns), working on projects relating to the management of energy, water, waste and travel to help improve environmental sustainability in these areas for the University.

Awards and Achievements

Over the last 10-12 years, the University has made some great environmental achievements, notably ISO 14001 for the Environmental Management System and ISO 50001 for the Energy Management System (one of the 1st UK universities to achieve this certification). It was awarded the Green Flag for 8 consecutive years, Eco Campus Platinum Award, multiple Green Gown Awards and a Gold Green Tourism Award, to name just a few. All this progress has really helped to secure the University’s position as a leader in sustainability across the sector and demonstrates the commitment the University has for environmental improvement.

Sustainability at the University of Reading

Project examples

Following the implementation of an array of solar panels on the roofs of Carrington and Estates & Facilities buildings, and the Sportspark pavilion, Edith Morley and Wager were the next that got the equipment to produce ‘green electricity’. Regular lighting was replaced with more energy-efficient LEDs while heating, ventilation and air conditioning improvements were carried out in some of the building on campus to reduce the amount of energy buildings use and their carbon footprint.

Success

Sustainability Services is a diverse group of people working towards a common goal – a greener campus with ecological energy resources and environmentally-friendly students and staff. This allows us to get a mixture of opinions from team members over various topics tackled together. The team is made up of experts in environmental management, energy, waste and travel, which really helps to encourage teamwork and shows that anybody with the passion can find a place in sustainability to fit in and contribute.

Another reason the University is so successful at sustainability is due to the ambitious targets set. We recently achieved our carbon reduction target and are now working towards a new goal by 2021. Around half of the amount of waste from the University is now recycled and we also aim to reduce our water consumption and increase sustainable travel to and from the university.

As I see it, the team is really energetic, creative and motivated, which is why all of our projects have been so successful. We’re all driven to come up with solutions which not only help the environment but also the community; to achieve this, however, we could use some extra help from everyone else at the University. Whether they’re students, alumni, administrative staff or academics, they can all support our mission. Cycling to work or taking the bus, using the car sharing scheme instead of driving by themselves, turning off the lights of the end of the day or using the Sustain It bottle, there are so many things that they can do to make the University even greener.

Conclusion

The University has had such a rewarding journey towards sustainability that it’s a shame to stop here. However, we need everyone’s support to continue improving. To find out more about the initiatives we develop and how to get involved, visit https://sites.reading.ac.uk/sustainability/. Here you’ll learn all about our carbon management projects and our reuse challenge!

This blog is part of the Green Festival initiative taking place at the University between 12-16 November. To discover events and actions about how you can join the mission and become more green, follow us for updates about Green Festival.

 

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