University wins award for Climate Action

Projects to make investments greener, promote climate conscious travel, generate clean solar energy on campus and create new opportunities for students to learn about sustainability, have resulted in the University winning a "2030 Climate Action" Award at the annual Green Gown Awards.

Celebrating success

100 start ups - VR headset

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 for all.

In November 2021, the University of Edinburgh won the "2030 Climate Action" Award in recognition of our holistic approach to addressing the climate crisis.

We were also highly commended in the "Next Generation Learning and Skills" category for the Students as Change Agents project.

The University was shortlisted in five categories in total, including Benefitting Society, Enterprise, and the Sustainability Institution of the Year Award (which we were proud to win in 2018).

Our 2030 Climate Action submission will be put forward for the International Green Gown Awards.

Our mission is to deliver positive impact for society, by discovering, developing and sharing knowledge. The University is committed to supporting a lower-carbon, healthier, more sustainable and equitable future. The Green Gown Awards provide an opportunity to recognise the efforts of our staff and students to help us achieve this.

Professor Peter MathiesonPrincipal and Vice-Chancellor

2030 Climate Action: winner

Positive Futures: Addressing the climate crisis through a whole institution approach

Green Gown Awards 2021: 2030 Climate Action - University of Edinburgh - Winner (large institution)

Institutions are having to plan how they get to net-zero emissions. This category focuses on the steps that institutions are taking and planning to take to reach their targets.

Our submission focused on our commitment to being carbon neutral by 2040.

Judges commended the University's whole institutional approach to addressing the climate crisis.

In particular, the judges highlighted the following as sector-leading:

  • the University's efforts on investments (including £7.4 million invested since 2016-17, delivering projects with an estimated annual saving of over 3,000 tonnes CO₂e)
  • the new Sustainable Travel Policy developed to actively promote climate conscious travel
  • the solar farm at the Easter Bush campus
  • provision of short online courses (such as the Climate Solutions course)
  • extra-curricular opportunities for students
  • support for climate action innovation

Climate Strategy

Sustainable Travel Policy

Solar farm

Climate Solutions MOOC

Green Gown Awards 2021: 2030 Climate Action - University of Edinburgh - Winner [external website]

Next Generation Learning and Skills: highly commended

Students as Change Agents

Green Gown Awards 2021: Next Generation Learning and Skills - The University of Edinburgh - Highly Commended

This category recognises achievement in the development of academic courses, skills and capabilities relevant to sustainability. These can be vocational, undergraduate or postgraduate courses or related to wider purposes such as community involvement, global or environmental awareness or to support lifestyle changes.

Created by the University of Edinburgh Careers Service and hosted within the Data Driven Innovation programme of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland Region City Deal, Students as Change Agents (SACHA) is a co-curricular experiential idea lab that brings students from different academic disciplines and levels together to tackle real-world complex challenges linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Groups have worked on subjects such as fashion overconsumption, fuel poverty, sustainable tourism, youth homelessness, and building a more welcoming Scotland for refugees and asylum seekers.

Students as Change Agents

Green Gown Awards 2021: Next Generation Learning and Skills - The University of Edinburgh - Highly Commended [external website]

Past success

The University was shortlisted for three other categories in this year's Green Gown Awards, in addition to the two above.

University a finalist in five awards for sustainability

The University has now won eight Green Gown Awards (UK & Ireland) since 2015, including Sustainability Institution of the Year for 2018.

Sustainability Institution of the Year 2018

Past achievements

The Green Gown Awards

This year’s UK and Ireland Green Gown Awards’ Finalists, representing over 862,219 students and 156,000 staff, are leading the way with their commitment to the global sustainability agenda and proving the value that universities and colleges bring to the economy and society even in the most challenging times.

We need to ensure that we inspire and empower our young people to visualise a better future and to do all that we can to ensure that every career becomes a sustainable career. We need to turn feelings of anger and anxiety into hope and action. Education has a pivotal role to play.

This is a decisive decade for our very own future and this year's Green Gown Award winners reflect the urgency and innovation identified at COP 26.

Inspired by our winners, highly commended and all of our finalists means that we have no time to delay to replicate and scale their work in our own institution.

Iain PattonCEO, EAUC

Green Gown Award winners 2021 announced [external website]