Staff and students recognised at Sustainability Awards

The innovation and achievement of both staff and students was celebrated at the fifth annual Edinburgh Sustainability Awards.

More than 200 staff and students gathered at the Playfair Library Hall to celebrate the achievements of over 40 teams in the Sustainability Awards. "Today’s event marks the culmination of a year-long programme that sees staff and students from across the University working together to help make our University more socially responsible and sustainable." said Professor Charlie Jeffery, Senior Vice-Principal, as he opened the ceremony.

Office awards

This year, 31 teams entered the Office category of the Sustainability Awards, increasing from just 16 when the awards launched in 2010. All Office winners have embedded within their departments a range of practices across six themes including energy, waste and wellbeing, while Gold and Silver winners went further to complete tougher criteria and deliver special projects.

Recognition for collaboration

Teams from the Western General Hospital campus were recognised for their collaborative approach to solve problems.

The efforts of staff and students are vital for in addressing the University's challenges. This year, we are proud to welcome the first ever entries from the Western General Hospital.

Hugh EdmistonDirector of Corporate Services

Laboratory awards

Catherine Elliott, Registrar at the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, presented awards to 10 laboratories for their efforts to make their workplaces safer and more sustainable. "Laboratories are places where innovative research takes place and where global challenges are solved." said Catherine. "But, laboratories have a big impact in terms of energy, water and waste. "By entering the Sustainability Awards, our laboratories have committed to taking innovative measures to improve their environmental performance and share best practice with colleagues from across the University." One such project was a study which aims to make the storage of biological samples more energy efficient. "If the findings are significant, this research could help improve cold storage practices in laboratories around the world." said Catherine.

Student successes

As well as University departments, four student societies also received awards for planning, developing and delivering a sustainability project over the course of one academic year "Students' commitment to improving sustainability and social responsibility on campus demonstrates their passion and drive to make change happen." said EUSA President Briana Pegado. Students have led a huge range of sustainability initiatives this year - including introducing food-growing on campus, running Earth Hour, auditing the University’s waste streams and building a cycle-powered cinema.

Special awards

Following nominations from across the University, the following Special Awards were presented by Sarah Smith, the University Secretary:

Tim Calder from the School of Chemistry received an Environmental Improvement Award for his work on a lab glove recycling scheme. Since October, over 350 kilograms of waste gloves have been diverted from landfill, and upcycled into garden benches.

The University of Edinburgh Chaplaincy received the Social Responsibility Award for its activities that help the local community, including working with vulnerable adults and collecting for Food Banks.

TedXUniversityofEdinburgh won the Outreach Award for their event "How to be OK in the future".

The Best Student Initiative Award was an event that brought together academics, researchers, students, practitioners and innovators, in a 48-hour challenge to solve a sustainability problem - the Edinburgh Sustainability Jam.

Outstanding personal achievement

This year's outstanding personal achievement award was shared between three people:

  • Hayden Harrison, for her passion and commitment to improving sustainability in the EUSA Bars
  • Hassan Waheed, for his energy and dedication to empowering students and creatively solving sustainability issues
  • Ron Brown, for driving sustainability initiatives at the School of Chemistry and providing invaluable support to the Engineers without Borders society during the design and construction of their cycle-powered cinema

Lifetime achievement

"We would like to recognise the contribution of an individual who has shaped the University’s sustainability journey more than most." said University Secretary Sarah Smith, as she presented a special "Lifetime Achievement" award to David Somervell "for his untiring dedication and enthusiasm over more than 2 decades". David is in the process of taking flexible retirement after joining the University in 1989 as an energy manager. Over the course of his career, David has been behind many of the University's sustainability initiatives, and was instrumental in establishing the Transition Edinburgh University project, the SHRUB re-use hub and our Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability.

Full list of winners



Team Prize
Careers Service Bronze
Central Area Trades Team  Bronze
Easter Bush Trades Team  Bronze
Edinburgh College of Art Technical Services Bronze
Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation Bronze
Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre Bronze
Moray House School of Education Bronze
Pollock Halls Trades Team Bronze
School of Law Bronze
School of Mathematics Bronze
The International Office & Student Recruitment and Admissions Bronze
Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility Silver
Chrystal Macmillan Building Silver
Institute for Academic Development  Silver
Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine  Silver
Kennedy Tower Silver
School of Chemistry, Joseph Black Building Silver
University Website Programme Silver
Ann Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic Gold

Biomedical Teaching Organization

Chancellor's Building Gold
Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability Gold
Easter Bush Campus Gold
Edinburgh Research and Innovation  Gold
EUSA Bars Gold
Hugh Robson Building Gold
Landscape Section  Gold
Printing Services  Gold
Procurement  Gold
Queens Medical Research Institute Gold
Sports Union  Gold


Laboratory awards

Team Prize
Hugh Robson Building Bronze
Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine  Bronze
Peter Wilson Building Bronze
Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility Bronze
Biology Teaching Organisation Silver
MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, QMRI  Silver
SynthSys Silver
School of Chemistry, Joseph Black Building Silver
Chancellor's Building Gold
Roslin Institute Easter Bush  Gold


Student society awards

Team Project
Edinburgh University Sustainable Development Society Organising the University’s Sustainable Business Symposium
Engineers without Borders Edinburgh Planning and construction of their cycle-powered cinema
Edinburgh University Sustainable Development Association Organising a weekend of workshops to embed sustainability in the core of student societies
Net Impact Edinburgh A host of activities around sustainability, including food waste reduction, creative re-use and smart economics


Special awards

Team Prize
Tim Calder, School of Chemistry  Environmental Improvement
University of Edinburgh Chaplaincy Social Responsibility
TedXUniversityofEdinburgh Outreach
Edinburgh Sustainability Jam Best Student Initiative
Hayden Harrison, Hassan Waheed and Ron Brown Outstanding Personal Contribution
David Somervell  Lifetime Achievement