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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.

In support of our Travel Policy, we also have a Sustainable Transport Policy that aims to reduce commuter-based carbon by promoting non-car modes of transport and discouraging travel by air.

To achieve our goals, we have an assigned sustainability budget that is reviewed annually. A breakdown of the latest budget can be seen below: 

Activities Totals
Promotions and Awareness £8,400.00
ISO 14001 and other professional services £17,040.00
Professional Development £7,200.00
Office £2,400.00
Sustainability core subtotal £35,040.00
Energy saving controls, metering costs design and consultancy services (E054) £60,000.00
Water £300,000.00
Energy Estimated for budgeting purposes only £1,415,000.00
Total £3,260,080.00
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. However, we are working towards regaining our Soil Association award for the 2023/24 academic year and we are proud to have regained our Fairtrade University Status.

The Fairtrade University Award logo

We also offer a free allotment space to our students to provide the opportunity to grow food and learn new techniques on campus. The student Allotments are open to all students.

We’ve also recently developed a project with our Catering department as a new connection with the Southside Youth Connect group. For more details on our allotment please visit our Growing Spaces page. 

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.

Members of the Investment Committee can be found on the Board of Governors page, under Sub-committees, Finance and Infrastructure. Please note that while no student representation is listed, this sub-committee makes suggestions to the Board of Governors for approval and development where students are represented by the Student Union President. 

More information about Responsible Banking, including information on our annual investments and the members of our investment committee can be found on our Responsible Banking page.

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, arms, mining or tobacco industries.

To ensure this policy is fair for our students, we've put the matter forward to staff and students as a vote. We encourage all students to respond to ensure we’re not limiting options unfairly. See our current job advertising rules and meet our Careers team.

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 sustainability steering group is chaired by Pro-Vice-Chancellor External Andy Salmon, who oversees sustainability throughout the University. This steering group influences our Sustainability Strategy, which is overseen by our dedicated Sustainability Team.

We integrate sustainability into all staff and student inductions. For staff, this takes place as a pre-recorded presentation and a welcome email from the Sustainability Team. For students, sustainability is integrated into the Welcome talks, Welcome Fairs and other face-to-face features such as Reuse fairs and Recycling stands. Examples of these events can be seen on our Instagram Page.

To ensure sustainability is a consideration in all of our departments and schools, we’ve developed an Eco Champion scheme. This scheme encourages the integration of the Sustainable Development Goals throughout the curriculum. It also allows for the development of new ideas and the dissemination of information and new policies. Full details of the scheme can be found on our Eco Champion page.

Workers' rights

We consider the working conditions, remuneration and protection ofour staff and those working on behalf of the University to be very important. 

We are currently looking into becoming 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. As part of our application to become a certified Living Wage University, we are developing a policy that ensures any contracted or agency staff receive the same pay and benefits as directly employed staff. 

At present, 37% of Academic staff are on a fixed term contract and 63% are on permanent contracts.

Our commitment to ensuring fair pay goes beyond our work at the University is why we’re a Fairtrade University. Whilst our award lapsed due to changes brought about by Covid, we’ve resubmitted for the award this year and will continue to maintain it in the years to come. 

Bath Spa University has signed the “Can’t Buy My Silence” pledge. 

We're currently part of the Electronics Watch through our connection with the Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium. However, we've begun the application process to become a direct member of the Electronics Watch. 

Staff and student engagement

Engaging with our staff and student community on sustainability issues is a central part of our Sustainability Strategy.

This includes:

  • information in the student handbook
  • staff/student inductions
  • welcome week activities
  • social media and newsletter stories
  • student-led activities
  • sustainability lectures.

All of our events, specific campaigns and engagement activities can be seen documented on our Instagram page and in the calendar of events. This calendar is decided prior to the forthcoming academic year and added to as needed throughout the year.

We also believe some of the best ideas come from the minds of those studying at our University. That's why we have a grant available to fund sustainability and environmental campaigns developed by our students. More information can be found on our Sustainability Campaign Grant page.

To ensure all of our staff members understand the work we do, they receive a welcome email upon starting their position and watch a pre-recorded presentation during mandatory introductory training.

To boost engagement with our stunning grounds and the flora and fauna that thrives here, we invite staff and students to join our Biodiversity Network. The Network allows all members of the Bath Spa Community to become involved in the conservation work taking place on campus and encourages the development of multi-disciplinary ideas.

All committees see student representation in the form of the SU President. Committee members can be found on the Board of Governors page. We also invite members of the two Trade Unions to join our Sustainability Steering Group, that is responsible for the development of new Sustainability related policies and actions.

The Students Union at Bath Spa has recently applied to the Green Impact award to monitor their sustainability impact. Their results and report can be found on the website.

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 developing a new Sustainability open module and rolling out Carbon Literacy training for all open courses that address global citizenship and sustainability.

Our Sustainability Policy is reviewed by our Vice-Chancellor each year. We also monitor the integration of the Sustainable Development Goals and have formed the Environment Champion scheme to help ensure that these goals are monitored by a staff member from each school and department. 

While we fulfil many of the requirements of a Living Lab and use our grounds as a setting for research and projects across our academic studies, we’re not currently signed up as a Living Lab University. However, we’re developing a more formal plan with our Academic staff to gain this title and aim to be a Living Lab university within a year.

To ensure access to education is fair for everyone, there are a range of scholarships and bursaries available. Details can be found on our Scholarships and Bursaries page.

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. Recently, we identified a large water leak in the water system which has now been repaired and will help reduce water loss.

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