The University has a number of significant achievements to report during 2017/18.
We began the year by announcing full divestment from fossil fuels over the next three years, and ended by winning the ‘Sustainability Institution of the Year’ at the Green Gown Awards Ceremony for our pioneering work across a diverse range of the University’s activities. We were thrilled to pick up the award on behalf of so many staff, students and alumni, working together to make a significant, sustainable and socially responsible contribution to society. We continued to progress our Climate Change Strategy, with work to reduce energy consumption and to assess our vulnerability to climate change across the estate. We secured a £5 million loan from the Scottish Funding Council to progress a package of solar and energy efficiency investments, including a major solar farm at Easter Bush to be constructed in 2019.
Our carbon emissions were down almost five per cent on last year and we are on track to meet our target to reduce carbon emissions per million pounds spend by 50 per cent by 2025. Colleagues opened the hugely ambitious Low Carbon College in partnership with Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Elsewhere on the international stage, we further strengthened our joint working with colleagues at Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University, the University of British Columbia and the Pontifical Catholic University of Chilé.
We approved plans to introduce a new levy of single-use coffee cups in 2018 and agreed a new waste strategy, with a new emphasis on reuse and circular economy. Drinking water provision has been reviewed and new accessible drinking water points are being installed across the University. Meanwhile our PC Reuse Project went from strength to strength with over 1,400 machines being reused, as well as over 2,000 other items of IT equipment.
The University held a joint event with the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment to discuss how to address modern slavery issues through our investments. We launched the highly successful Power Up Scotland, a social enterprise mentoring programme, with our partners the Big Issue Invest, Scottish Government, Brodies and Aberdeen Standard Investments.
We introduced a new community grants scheme and distributed over £90,000 to local groups across the city region and created a new section on our website to keep local people and communities better informed, as well as launching a new local community newsletter. We are proud of these and many more achievements from colleagues. We know that we can do more, and we are committed to continuing to lower our environmental impact, improve our positive impact on society and work with others to do even more.
In the coming year, we will be delivering projects to encourage even more reuse across the staff and student community, provide students with further extra-curricular opportunities to engage with sustainability issues, refresh our approaches to community engagement and biodiversity, and continue work to support social enterprises.
Get in touch if you would like to know more.
Director of Social Responsibility and Sustainability