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Sustainability Is the Future at the University of Nottingham

By Andy Nolan, Director of Estates (Sustainability)


The University of Nottingham’s position as a leader in the field of sustainability saw it ranked 2nd in the 2017 UI GreenMetric World University Ranking and maintain a top two placement since the ranking system’s inception in 2010.


We have a longstanding commitment to institution-wide social responsibility and the University’s research strategy sets out commitment to global challenges and sustainability and the research beacons are aligned with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. We have significant internationally recognised research strengths and teaching and learning in the field of sustainability, and our estates operations are built on a strong environmental ethos and of adopting progressive environmental strategies in the capital projects that have embedded sustainability at the heart of our operations.


The University’s Sustainability Strategy builds upon our successes and sets out a framework for delivering a truly sustainable University, focusing on six strategic areas:


  • Student Experience
  • Education for Sustainability
  • Research for Sustainability
  • Partnership and Engagement
  • Operations for Sustainability
  • Governance and Quality Assurance


We recognise that we have a responsibility to the local and global environment and, as an educator of future generations, many of whom will be at the cutting-edge of research and captains of industry. We influence our students through our curriculum, instruction and research; by the students’ surroundings; the campus experience; and through the leadership of the University. Alongside the Green Metric ranking we have received further recognition, including:


  • The University of Nottingham has secured a prestigious Green Flag award for the fourth year in a row on the University’s Jubilee Campus and for the 15th year on University Park.
  • In 2016 we were finalists at the Green Gown Awards for our investment in Diamond Wood–a new woodland for biodiversity and the community near the Sutton Bonington campus–in the Continuous Improvement category for our work on sustainable transport.
  • In 2017 we had 5 nominations for the Green Gown Awards across the following categories: Carbon Reduction; Enterprise; Food & Drink; Student Engagement; and Leadership.
  • Our capital programme continues to deliver innovative, sustainable buildings – Research Acceleration and Demonstration (RAD) Building
  • The University of Nottingham is a theme lead for the successful Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) initiative in the Midlands and as part of this initiative a new Research Acceleration and Demonstration (RAD) building is currently being developed to accommodate an expansion in activities. The building has been designed to achieve BREEAM Excellent and will include Passivehaus measures to reduce energy requirements.
  • The GlaxoSmithKline Carbon Neutral Laboratory of Sustainable Chemistry is complete and open for over a year–it’s the first carbon neutral laboratory to be built in the UK. The building has achieved BREEAM ‘Outstanding’, scoring 94.1% and LEED ‘Platinum’ as well as carbon neutral status after 25 years.


The University has continued to invest in its infrastructure to reduce its environmental impact and maximise its positive contribution to the local, national and international community. Particular note should be taken of the following:


  • An arboretum project to increase the diversity of tree species on University Park and the creation of a newly landscaped areas including at Sutton Bonington campus to enhance public amenity, biodiversity and enhance the student experience.
  • Targeted investment at the Sutton Bonington campus to reduce carbon emissions, costs and improve reliability with the installation of combined heat and power (CHP) unit to simultaneously produce heat and electricity for use in our buildings. The CHP delivered 40% of the sites electrical and heating demand has achieved annual savings of £300,000 and over 1000 t CO2 for a total installed cost £1.35m.The University’s Medical School was identified as a key strategic investment to assist in achieving carbon reduction, improving resilience and reducing costs. Investment of over £3m targeted heating and cooling infrastructure, controls, and the building fabric. The Chilled water project and part of the voids ventilation work was funded by SALIX ‘revolving green fund 4’ while the reminding areas of work were funded direct by the University’s carbon management programme. The overall annual cost saving achieved is £560K as a result of reduced steam consumption (despite an increase of £30K in electrical cost to power the new chilled water plant). There was also a reduction in site mains water consumption following removal the evaporative cooling towers saving an average 3,850m3 of water a year at a cost of £7,700.
  • The University has recently committed to divesting from fossil fuels in its Endowment Fund and is leading a plastics reduction programme across the University.