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Bristol among UK’s most sustainable universities, rankings find


Press release issued: 13 December 2021

Bristol has been named as one of the most sustainable universities in the country.

In a survey of 154 UK universities, Bristol was labelled the 20th most sustainable, beating UWE Bristol (24th), Oxford (25th) and Cambridge (82nd), among many others.

The People & Planet University League looked at 13 different criteria, from workers’ rights and water consumption to carbon reduction and waste recycling.

Bristol scored particularly highly in the categories ‘ethical and investment banking’, ‘education for sustainable development’ and ‘environmental auditing & management systems’.

It has been a strong year for the University of Bristol’s green mission, with a £235,000 investment in more electric vehicles (on campus from 2022), the installation of 80 new recycling facilities and an award for becoming the first university worldwide to gain 100% Green Lab Certification

Bristol was also given Fairtrade University status and won a 3-star Zero Waste Award this year – both representing several years of hard work – and it was able to donate 12.5tonnes of food to local charities.

A £1m investment in the University’s building management system will further reduce carbon emissions.

Professor Judith Squires, Provost and Deputy Vice Chancellor, said: “In a year that saw both global action around COP26 and a series of troubling symptoms of climate change, we are pleased that Bristol has performed so well in this landmark survey.

“Our sustainability team has been working incredibly hard to bake the environment into every decision we make, from the food we serve and the water we use, to making our laboratories as sustainable as possible.

“Much of our campus dates from the Victorian era and our important scientific research can be energy intensive. Not all universities have these challenges which makes this success all the more gratifying.”

People & Planet ranked the 154 universities in five categories: 1st class, 2/1 class, 2:2 class, 3rd class and ‘failed’ universities. Bristol was awarded a first.

Manchester Metropolitan University was found to be the most sustainable university, the University of Sunderland the least.

Despite the University of Bristol’s success, People & Planet struck a sombre note for the higher education system as a whole.

Jack Ruane, University League Manager at People & Planet, said: “The improvement of some Russell Group universities and the increased number of institutions on course to meet the carbon reduction target are positive signs.

“However, it’s disappointing that the majority of the institutions are still not on course to meet the 15 year long sector-wide HEFCE carbon reduction target before next year’s deadline.

“The sector must prioritize immediate and rapid decarbonisation, rather than celebrate target-setting as far away as 2050 in some cases.”

Information about the 2022 People & Planet University League will be announced in spring 2022.

Further information

  • Follow this link to learn more about the University of Bristol’s sustainability mission.
  • Follow this link to learn more about the University’s sustainability successes this year.
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