By Bryan Smyth
University College Cork (UCC) has become the only university in Ireland to make the top 10 in a list of the ‘greenest’ universities in the world.
According to the UI GreenMetric World University 2018 ranking, which measured more than 700 institutions across 81 countries on how they perform across operations, educational and research activities, UCC is ninth best in the world for sustainability.
UCC was also recently named the first third level institution outside the US and Canada to win the gold Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
The University joined the likes of Princeton, Cornell and UC Berkeley in achieving the accolade for its excellence in sustainability, with the UCC Green Campus Programme and Green Forum demonstrating its efforts in implementing the university’s ambitious sustainability strategy.
“These successes reflect the collaborative approach to sustainability across the University with a strong commitment from the University’s Management Team,” said Professor John O’Halloran, Deputy President and Registrar, UCC.
UCC’s green initiatives have been adopted by staff, students and visitors to the campus, and exemplify collaboration and a real willingness to be a truly sustainable campus.
The University is home to Ireland’s first plastic-free café, which has prevented more than 20,000 disposable items going to waste since it opened at the University’s Biosciences Institute in September this year. A pilot project for catering company KSG, everything from fresh vegetables to cooked meats is delivered from local suppliers and the University’s farm in long-life containers.
UCC published its first Annual Sustainability Report this week, which celebrates a decade since UCC students first embarked on the Green Campus programme and the University hitting its Public Sector Energy Efficiency target, slashing consumption by 33% three years ahead of schedule.
In May this year, after running a University-wide module in Sustainability, UCC welcomed delegates from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, University of Massachusetts, Lowell; and the Central American University in El Salvador to take part in its first Sustainability Summer School.
UCC was the world’s first university to be awarded a Green Flag from the Foundation for Environmental Education initially in 2010 and has consistently ranked in the top 15 of the UI Green Metric since entering the ranking in 2011.
Other environmental initiatives include the Green Library campaign and a pollinator strategy with several beehives on campus.
Mark Poland, UCC’s Director of Buildings and Estates and Green Forum co-chair said, “UCC is committed to continually improving its environmental performance and engaging its entire community of students and staff in these efforts.”
UCC will welcome the international UI Green Metric conference to the university in April 2019, where senior administrators from the globally leading institutions will meet to discuss the sustainability agenda in higher education and beyond.