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People and Planet University League – Bath Spa University

Bath Spa University is committed to constantly improving its environmental performance.

The People and Planet University League, now in its thirteenth year, is the only comprehensive and independent league table of UK universities ranked by environmental and ethical performance, across 13 different categories.

In 2019, Bath Spa University achieved a first class award in the People and Planet University League table, making it one of the greenest universities in the UK. In 2021 we received a 2:1 award.

Environmental Policy and strategy

Strong and consistent leadership is the key to making progress in sustainability, particularly in a large organisation. This is why a policy and a strategy to deliver it, which is regularly reviewed by senior leaders within the organisation, is so important.

Our Environmental Policy is reviewed every 24 months or if significant changes occur. Our strategy, which underpins the policy, was published in 2018. A lot has changed within the University since then and we've made significant progress in several areas. To reflect this and to address future challenges, we're currently re-drafting the Sustainability Strategy, which we hope to have completed and published this year.

Environmental auditing and management systems

Having a robust management system in place is a great tool to focus resources where it matters, ensure all legal requirements are met, and to demonstrate that you're delivering your promises and not just "greenwashing".

Since 2021, we've been certified to the International Standard for environmental management ISO14001. As the importance of energy and carbon emissions becomes ever more important, we also became certified to the International Standard for energy management ISO50001 in 2019.

Both systems are independently audited every year to ensure that we're meeting the requirements and can demonstrate continual improvement.

Managing carbon

Our first Carbon Reduction Management Plan (CRMP), which spanned 2010-2020, was fully delivered in 2018. The target was to halve scope one and two carbon emissions, e.g. heating fuels, electricity, vehicle fleet and refrigerant losses. We came close to meeting our target but the University grew by 50% over this time, which provided additional challenges.

Our current Carbon Reduction Management Plan takes us to 2030, with a net zero emissions target. This time, our target includes scope three emissions from all forms of commuting and business travel, waste and water. We're excluding our procurement supply chain emissions for now and are working on a policy for construction-related emissions, which we expect to include in our next iteration.

Sustainable food

Food production, transport and waste are critical sustainability issues. Since 2010, we've made continual progress in making our food choices more sustainable. This includes having Fairtrade and Food For Life certification, only using MSC fish, sourcing as much produce locally as we can and reflecting seasonality in our menus.

Our aim to create a sustainable food culture is outlined in our sustainable food policy.

Unfortunately, the Covid pandemic had a deep impact on our catering facilities and our ability to maintain our certifications. We're now picking up the pieces and moving forward with new plans and ideas. Watch this space for an update soon.

Ethical investment and banking

In the process of making the world more sustainable, where you put your money really matters. Recognising this, Bath Spa University has published a Responsible Investment Policy and convened an investment committee to ensure it is followed. The policy prevents us from investing in socially and environmentally damaging industries.

Ethical careers and recruitment

Bath Spa University is currently considering whether a policy that restricts the career opportunities it offers to students is necessary. As a predominantly arts and humanities based university, our students don't generally find themselves looking for careers in the fossil fuel industry.

Staff and HR

Making a real difference in a large organisation is only possible if people right across the organisation are part of the journey, including senior managers and junior members alike. Our sustainabilty steering group is chaired by our Pro Vice-Chancellor Finance and Infrastructure and includes representation from across the University. This steering group influences our sustainability strategy.

We no longer feel the need to have departmental "eco-champions" or similar as we consider everyone at Bath Spa to be one.

Workers' rights

We consider the working conditions, remuneration and protection of our staff and those working on behalf of the University to be very important. We aren't a certified Living Wage Organisation, however all our staff are paid above the UK living wage and we don't outsource our services to save money.

Staff and student engagement

Engaging with our staff and student community on sustainability issues is central to what we do.

This includes:

  • information in the student handbook
  • staff inductions
  • welcome week activities
  • social media and newsletter stories
  • student-led activities
  • carbon literacy training
  • sustainability lectures.
Education for sustainable development

Education is the most powerful tool we have to help our students make sustainable decisions throughout their lives. At Bath Spa, we're working to ensure that all our courses address issues of sustainability where pertinent to the course subject. In addition, we're rolling out Carbon Literacy training for all and run open courses that address global citizenship and sustainability.

Energy sources

At Bath Spa, we've bought 100% renewable electricity. We were amongst a small group of universities to set up a Power Purchase Agreement with a wind energy supplier to provide 20% of our electricity. We're currently working with our energy services provider to develop new renewable sources to provide our future electricity. We also have around 100 KW of photovoltaic energy, which we're planning to expand over time.

Waste and recycling

Not using stuff in the first place is the best way to reduce waste. Next is to re-use stuff as much as possible before recycling it. We've been working to eliminate single-use materials from all our activities for several years. This work has gone backwards through the Covid pandemic and we're now picking up the pieces and making progress once again.

We operate an innovative, bagless, three-stream process that has enabled us to achieve around 80% recycling rates since 2017.

Carbon reduction

Our first Carbon Reduction Management Plan, which spanned 2010-2020, was fully delivered in 2018. In this period, we reduced total emissions by around 40% and improved our carbon efficiency by 66%. This doesn't include the 100% renewable electricity that we purchase from the grid.

Water reduction

We're continually working to reduce water consumption and losses in our water infrastructure. We stipulate water efficient appliances in all new builds and refurbishments. We also have water metering in all our buildings and at key points across our water mains to ensure we pick up leaks quickly.

We've made steady progress in reducing consumption per head, but these figures have been skewed over the last couple of years due to Covid.

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