With the City of Bristol the 2015 European Green Capital and the Awards being hosted at Brunel’s Old Station, one of the oldest train stations in the world, there was no better place to celebrate these remarkable initiatives.
The 11th Green Gown Awards saw over 320 sustainability leaders join in the celebration of awarding sustainability excellence within tertiary education announcing 16 Winners and 22 Highly Commended, culminating with live video streaming of the International Green Gown Awards crowning a 3 further International Winners.
The evening was hosted by Dr Andrew Garrad (pictured), Chairman of Bristol 2015 European Green Capital. Andrew is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and is an Honorary Fellow of New College, Oxford. “I am delighted that, towards the end of our year as European Green Capital, Bristol hosted the Green Gown Awards. These Awards recognise the important role that academic institutions play in ensuring that young people have a proper understanding of both the challenges and the opportunities presented by sustainability.”
Each year the Awards bring together the most inspirational projects from across the sector and this year was no exception. The Student Engagement Award – supported by the Scottish Funding Council – saw Edinburgh College pick up a win not only in the UK Awards but also in the International Awards. Their project “Edinburgh Community Gardens and Orchards” has built up two thriving community gardens at opposite ends of the city of Edinburgh, and is also in the process of developing four community orchards.
On their achievement, Annette Bruton, Principal and Chief Executive says “When the Community Gardens project began we didn’t necessarily understand how strong an effect it would have on engaging students, in giving them new skills, confidence and an education in sustainability. We are very proud to win this Green Gown Award as it demonstrates how sustainable practices can provide powerful learning experiences.”
The worthy winner of the Leadership Award – which is exclusive to senior strategic leadership at a tertiary education institution and recognises individuals at the most senior level – went to Dr Jane Davidson, University of Wales Trinity St David for establishing the INSPIRE project which delivers educational pathways promoting learning, environmental and social responsibility and meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. “This win is such a prestigious accolade and it acknowledges our commitment to sustainability as one of our core values and most importantly it celebrates the excellent and inspiring work of colleagues and students across the University’s campuses.” Says their Vice-Chancellor, Professor Medwin Hughes DL.
Guests at the prestigious black tie ceremony included university and college representatives from across the UK, joined by leading figures from institutions such as the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Scottish Funding Council (SFC), Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE), Association of Colleges (AoC), Higher Education Academy (HEA) and The Association of Heads of University Administration (AHUA) to commend visionary projects which are pushing the sustainable good practice boundaries.
Organised and delivered by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), Chief Executive Iain Patton describes the importance of the Green Gown Awards, “Every year the Green Gown Awards rewrite what business as usual looks like for UK universities and colleges. Sustainability makes business sense and this year’s inspiring initiatives prove that sustainability benefits staff, students, the wider community and of course the bottom line. Congratulations to all the winners and finalists for their hard work. It was wonderful to celebrate their successes in Bristol.”
The evening finale saw the UK Winners from the three international categories: Community Innovation; Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change, and Student Engagement going head-to-head with the winners from Australasia and the French speaking regions including Canada, for the coveted International Green Gown Awards. Winners were announced via live video streaming by two of the Awards’ delivery partners; Pauline Pingusson from Campus Responsables and Iain Patton from the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges.
De Montfort University (UK) won the Community Innovation Award with “OASYS South Asia” and their inspiring project providing solar energy opportunities to off-grid rural communities; Université Laval(Canada) was awarded the Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change Award for their community-wide approach and vision of sustainable development and Edinburgh College (UK) won the Student Engagement Award with their thriving community gardens project showing strong commitment, great curriculum links and offering a big impact and outreach.
A snapshot of some of the winning entries include:
The Carbon Reduction Award – supported by SALIX Finance – awarded to Dundee and Angus College for their project “Reducing Carbon CO2 – it’s in our D&A”, saving the planet, saving cash, shrinking the College’s carbon footprint whilst, at the same time, stimulating staff and learners’ imagination in terms of sustainability.
The Community Innovation Award which also scooped the International Award too – supported by InnuScience – awarded to De Montfort University for their project “OASYS South Asia – solar energy providing opportunities to off-grid rural communities”. The inspiring project undertook demonstrations of off-grid options using solar PV-based mini/micro grid systems at four locations in India, providing access to basic lighting and mobile phone charging facilities as well as supporting use of electricity for productive, educational, and social purposes.
Enterprise and Employability – supported by the Higher Education Academy – awarded to The University of Nottingham for their initiative “Enactus Nottingham” where students are given a platform to create social enterprises focused around solving large economic, environmental and social problems.
And the Sustainability Champion Student Award – supported by The Energy Consortium – went to Charlotte Rebekah Instone, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London. With judges commenting “Charlotte shows incredible drive and passion for sustainability setting up the sustainability society, an ethical fashion brand and running an amazing number of events all while undertaking her degree! We need to replicate Charlotte!”
The Green Gown Awards 2015 Winners’ Brochure and International Winners’ Brochure incorporating all this year’s Winning, Highly Commended and Finalists’ entries can be found on the Green Gown Awards website.