University of Edinburgh wins three Green Gown Awards for commitment to sustainability

The UK and Ireland Green Gown Awards celebrate initiatives in universities and colleges that make them more socially responsible and sustainable. In November 2019, the University of Edinburgh won three awards for Campus Health, Food and Drink, Total Reporting and Money for Good.

I am delighted that the University of Edinburgh is the winner of three award categories. The Green Gown Awards ceremony offers a moment to reflect and celebrate the hard work that is happening to embed sustainability throughout our institution: from investment, to reporting, to the issues surrounding food and drink at the University. Congratulations to all of the Green Gown Awards winners. It was wonderful to see so many Scottish institutions doing so well.

Dave GormanDirector of Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Sustainability in catering celebrated: promoting healthy, sustainable and affordable food

Winner: Campus Health, Food and Drink

Good Food Green Gown Awards 2019

This award recognises the University of Edinburgh's commitment to socially responsible and sustainable food practices, taking a whole institution approach to food and its connection to health and sustainability. In August 2016, we approved our first Good Food Policy to drive progress in five key areas: sourcing, provision, practice, research learning & teaching and leadership & culture.

Successful delivery of the Good Food Policy is a collaborative effort between the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability (SRS), the Department for Accommodation, Catering and Events (ACE), the Procurement Office and Estates as well as staff and students across the University.

Recent successes include:

  • improving access to drinking water on campus, installed by the Estates Department
  • establishing a charge on single-use coffee cups leading to a 37% reduction in coffee cup use in the first year (rising to 46% in 2019/20)
  • assessment of sustainability risks in supply chains
  • cookery classes for students
  • more vegetarian and plant-based catering options on campus (working towards 50% veggie and plant-based meal options in all outlets by July 2020)
  • Approval of a University Palm Oil Policy

  • 50 catering staff trained as Energy Coordinators or in foodservice sustainability

Find out more about this award

Find out more about the Good Food Policy

Our success in this award is a formal recognition of the significant progress and achievements made from the initial establishment of the Good Food Policy in 2016 through to the clear implementation plan developed with both realistic and deliverable stretched targets. To have accomplished so much under our five key areas would not have been possible without ongoing staff and student enthusiasm to both challenge and progress our food sustainability agenda and the integrated work of a range of Professional Service Departments.

Ian MacaulayDirector - Catering

Two categories recognise leadership in socially responsible and sustainable Finance

Winner: Total Reporting

Total Reporting Green Gown Awards 2019

In 2016, the Finance Department at the University of Edinburgh adopted the International Integrated Reporting Committee’s framework for Integrated Reporting to communicate a clear narrative that demonstrates our overall performance, and the value our University creates.  

The adoption of Integrated Reporting helps to ensure that sustainability topics are not separate to our organisational reporting but that natural, social and human capital are key to the wider value creation and impact for society.   

More information is available via annual ‘Social Responsibility & Sustainability Reporting’ including reporting in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals.  

Find out more about this award

Read the University's Annual Report Read our Social Responsibility and Sustainability reports

Winner: Money for Good

Investment Green Gown Awards 2019

The University of Edinburgh won in this category for investing for good, through social investment, including £1.5million committed through Big Issue Invest, £1m invested with Social Investment Scotland, and £1m committed to Social and Sustainable Capital’s social housing fund.

These investments are used to offer loans to social enterprise, charities and profit-with-purpose businesses across a wide range of areas, including:

  • social housing
  • new models of elderly care
  • employment support
  • help for troubled families
  • circular economy
  • the arts

Find out more about this award

Find out more about responsible investment at the University

To succeed in these two categories is a fantastic achievement. Our Finance and Social Responsibility and Sustainability departments, as well as the broader University community, should be extremely proud. We will continue to work hard to tell the story of our University through our annual report and accounts, and of course it helps when we have so many great social investment initiatives to showcase.

Lee HamillDirector of Finance

The Green Gown Awards

As the Climate Crisis is increasingly recognised as the most pressing issue our world faces, the Green Gown Awards put a spotlight on the innovative and inspiring sustainability work taking place in universities and colleges to create a brighter future for their students.

This year’s UK and Ireland Green Gown Awards finalists represented over 1 million students and 162,000 staff. Organised by EAUC - the Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education, the awards ceremony was held at Glasgow Science Centre on Tuesday 26 November 2019.

Established in 2004, the Green Gown Awards UK and Ireland recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities, colleges and the learning and skills sectors across the UK and Ireland as the education sector leads a path to efficiency, employability and better quality of life all.

View all 2019 winners

Past wins

In 2018, the University of Edinburgh was named ‘Sustainability Institution of the Year’ by the Green Gown Awards.

University of Edinburgh named ‘Sustainability Institution of the Year’ 2018


Continuous Improvement Highly Commended


Continuous Improvement Shortlisted

Sustainable Construction Shortlisted


Social Responsibility Shortlisted

Continuous Improvement Highly Commended

Promoting Positive Behaviour Shortlisted

Student Initiatives Highly Commended


Construction Highly Commended

Continuous Improvement Shortlisted

Food and Drink Shortlisted

Courses and Learning Shortlisted


Facilities and Services Winner

Student Engagement Shortlisted


Learning and Skills Shortlisted

Facilitates and Services Shortlisted


Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change Shortlisted

Enterprise Winner

Learning and Skills Shortlisted


Sustainability Institution of the Year Winner

Outstanding Leadership Team of the Year Highly Commended

Sustainability Champion – Student (Lizzie Rhoades, shortlisted)

Benefitting Society Shortlisted

More information

Find out more about what our Department does

Find out what action students can take to be more sustainable

Find out what action staff can take to be more sustainable