UWE Bristol sets out two year Climate and Sustainability Plan

Media Relations Team, 12 June 2024

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Frenchay campus, with trees in the foreground
Frenchay campus

A two-year Climate and Sustainability Plan 2024-26 published by UWE Bristol will empower its students and staff to tackle climate and sustainability challenges and reaffirm the university’s commitment to being a sustainable institution.

Setting out UWE Bristol’s ambitions for the next two years, the plan highlights short term SMART targets that will work in tandem with the longer term commitments established in the university’s Strategy 2030, reinforcing its seriousness to sustainability and climate action.

The Climate and Sustainability Plan has been developed according to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to guide the university’s strategic direction and covers cross-cutting topics such as education for sustainable development, climate mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity, circular economy, travel, sustainable food, and procurement.

Investing in infrastructure, creating an energy resilient estate, using the latest techniques to decarbonise the university’s operations, and taking action on biodiversity loss through teaching, research events and engagement activities are some of the commitments set out in the two year plan.

Paul Roberts, Head of Environments and Sustainability said: “By creating a two-year plan which lays out clear and achieveable sustainability targets, we hope to empower our students and staff to engage with our commitments. This plan will allow us to refocus on some of the most important activities and targets that will help us to work towards our longer term vision and Strategy 2030. The climate and ecological issues facing society won’t go away and UWE is committed to being a sustainable institution making impact through action.”

UWE Bristol’s action on sustainability is rooted in making a real difference in the world and investment in sustainability across campuses is driving the university towards its ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030. 

Sustainable plant propogation

Creating green infrastructure around the university campus has been central to UWE Bristol’s ecology and biodiversity activity and will continue with ambitions to be fully sustainable in growing pollinator plants on campus. With a new 22 metre polytunnel, funded by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) at the university’s Frenchay campus, the space will be used to grow pollinator-friendly plants in peat-free compost, which will become the sole supplier for the university’s grounds. The polytunnel will also have a designated community garden area and will provide further facilities to integrate sustainability into teaching.

Living Lab

The sustainability measures that are being implemented at UWE Bristol are providing opportunities for academics and students to research, analyse and learn from the university’s environment and estate, formalised officially through the launch of UWE Bristol’s Living Lab. As a way of encouraging more cross-collaborative working, the Living Lab will see real-life research opportunities for students and academics.

Purdown View, UWE Bristol’s newly-built 900-bed student accommodation, the first student accommodation of its size in the UK to be built to ultra low energy Passivhaus standards, is one example of a real-life research and study opportunity on campus that students and staff can benefit from. With construction due to complete soon, analysis of the building to explore its sustainable impact and energy efficiency will offer a multitude of research opportunities for students and academics.

Professor Sir Steve West, Vice-Chancellor of UWE Bristol said: “It’s 30 years since UWE Bristol’s first Environmental Policy was written and in that time the university has taken decisive and purposeful action to address the climate emergency we’re facing. As a university, we have been and will continue to put actions in place that allow our students to live more sustainably.

“We must be flexible and innovative if we’re to meet the targets we have set ourselves, including achieving net zero by 2030. As a thriving university, we have excellent resources and expertise to drive forward our ambitions, and hope to empower our students and staff to join us in taking direct and effective decisions to tackle the many climate and sustainability challenges of the future.”

In 2023, UWE won Sustainability Institution of the Year in the UK & Ireland Green Gown Awards.

Read the full Climate & Sustainability Plan 2024-26 here.

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