Environment and Sustainability

The University of Stirling is committed to playing its role in addressing the global climate crisis. Our researchers are at the forefront of efforts to develop innovative responses to climate change, enabling adaptation and resilience, and driving forward carbon neutral prosperity. As an employer and a place of learning, we are taking ongoing steps to lower our institutional carbon footprint, and support cleaner, greener ways of working.

Scotland’s International Environment Centre, established at the University though the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal, will pioneer new, inclusive solutions that support a just transition to a net zero future. The centre will be embedded within the industrial and commercial fabric of the diverse Forth Valley region, delivering real benefits to local businesses and communities. Working proactively with strategic partners, the Centre will co-produce the unique approaches that can be upscaled and replicated round the world, as global exemplars of best practice.

Smaller scale changes on campus are also making a difference. Almost one third of the University’s electricity, imported through the National Grid, comes from renewable sources, while Stirling pursues 100% landfill avoidance through either recycling or anaerobically digesting waste, or incinerating it to produce heat. Our estates team are making the transition to lower carbon vehicles, including a new fleet of electric cars and e-cargo bikes, and we are supporting greener transport choices for students and staff through our ongoing relationship with the NextBike and ForthBike bicycle sharing schemes.

We know that both the challenges associated with climate change – and the solutions – are interlinked. The University is committed to integrating sustainable development into everyday practice, working towards achieving the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a global framework encompassing all aspects of sustainability, to align the organisation’s strategic ambitions with the wider international sustainability agenda.

The latest data reveals that the University’s approach is making a difference. Our carbon emissions have reduced by 43.8% since 2007/08; a clear downward trend across 11 consecutive years. This reduction has exceeded our target to reduce emissions by 38% by 2020.

Innovations such as this - both global and local in scale - will be central to meeting Scotland’s ambitious target to become a net-zero society, ending the nation’s contribution to climate change within a generation. We’re proud to be part of that ambitious effort. Reflecting that aspiration, the University has signed the Global Climate Letter for Universities and Colleges as a pledge to reach net-zero by 2030, or 2050 at the very latest, alongside increasing the delivery of environmental and sustainability education, and pioneering action-oriented climate change research and skills creation.

Race to Zero Signatory

Target

Reduce CO2 emissions by 40% by 2021 on a 2007/8 baseline

Sustainability Policy

Commitment:

It is recognised that action is urgently required to address the Climate Emergency. Increasingly extreme climatic events not only impact the physical  environment and the balance of sensitive biological systems but also the biodiversity of the planet. In response to these serious challenges, the University is committed to playing a key role in tackling climate change through the way it operates, its research, teaching, and the services it provides. As evidence of this commitment, the University has signed up to the Global Climate Letter for Universities and Colleges ‘Race to Zero’, which commits the University to achieving net zero carbon status by 2030, and no later than 2050.

Responsibility:

Ownership of this policy is shared by the entire University community (both staff and students) and at all levels across academic and professional service units. The University Court, Principal and senior management team are committed to addressing the challenges posed by climate change.

Policy statement:

The University of Stirling operates as a place of research and learning, as a business and as a key member of the local and wider community. It has a role to play in shaping a sustainable future. The University is committed to integrating sustainable development into everyday practice by minimising environmental impact wherever possible, maximising economic performance and supporting beneficial social and community opportunities. It is working towards achieving the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - a global framework encompassing all aspects of sustainability - to align the organisation’s strategic ambitions with the wider international sustainability agenda.

Aims:

In satisfying this commitment the University will:

Environmental responsibility:

  • Drive forward energy efficiencies via the responsible management and use of energy.
  • Ensure  the responsible use of water.
  • Reduce  waste and minimise the environmental impact of waste to landfill through beneficial reuse and recycling activities.
  • Eliminate the use of plastics where possible in place of more environmentally friendly alternative materials.
  • Use products such as palm oil from sustainable sources which have been certified through a recognised verification scheme.
  • Promote fair trade products, local and seasonal food produce, and increase the offer of more vegan and vegetarian options in catering outlets.
  • Reduce atmospheric pollution by promoting more sustainable travel alternatives to, from and between University sites, and on University business.
  • Eliminate the unnecessary use of hazardous materials and processes and take all reasonable steps to prevent damage to the environment where such materials are essential.
  • Ensure where possible that new builds and the refurbishment of existing buildings and structures are implemented in a sustainable way.
  • Integrate the principles of biodiversity in the management of the Estate.
  • Support research, teaching and development activities aimed at the continual improvement of environmental performance.

Business, legal and economic responsibility:

  • Embed sustainability within the University’s core strategies and business processes.
  • Communicate and consult on sustainability performance through the relevant committees, e.g. Corporate Sustainability Steering Group.
  • Ensure that the University complies with all current environmental legislation, regulation and other requirements, e.g. those set by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council.
  • Support the use of products and services from suppliers whose own sustainability policies are in accord with the University and promote an ethical approach to procurement.
  • Resource activities to ensure the implementation of the policy commitments in line with the University’s Sustainability Plan.
  • Adopt a sustainable approach to the financial viability of the University by taking a long-term view of the financial and social costs and benefits of any development.

Social Responsibility:

  • Practice responsible investment through the avoidance of, and where applicable the divestment in, unethical sectors in accordance with the University’s Socially Responsible Investment Policy.
  • Provide information and training to staff and students on sustainable practice and related issues.
  • Foster behavioural change by encouraging participation and consultation by staff and students on sustainable initiatives.
  • Work in partnership with local authorities, businesses and local communities in order to achieve the University’s sustainability targets.
  • Work in partnership with other sector bodies including universities and colleges, Universities Scotland, Universities UK, and the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges (EAUC) to develop and integrate the principles of sustainability within Higher and Further education.

Updated, March 2021. The University’s Corporate Sustainability Steering Group is responsible for monitoring and updating this policy on an annual basis.

Approved by University Court, March 2021

Sustainability Plan

A sustainability implementation plan to deliver on the University’s sustainability targets and policy is currently under review and will be launched in Autumn 2021. This will be reviewed and endorsed by the Corporate Sustainability Steering Group and approved by University Court.

Public Bodies Climate Change Duties

Read our Public Bodies Climate Change Duties – 2020 Summary Report

This report complies with the statutory duty placed on public bodies in Scotland to report activity on sustainability, climate change adaptation and carbon reduction. It contains summary information on the University estate, carbon emissions, governance, procurement, adaptation and wider sustainability activity. Information and data contained in the report will be based on past or recent information and data pertaining to the respective reporting period.

More up to date information and data will be published in the next Public Body Climate Change Duties (2021) report and within the University Sustainability Plan, both of which will be published later in 2021.

Environmental Incident Reporting

There is a formalised way of reporting environmental incidents i.e. uncontrolled events that have or could have had an impact on the environment, such as chemical or oil spills; contamination of land, the Loch, flora or fauna; damage to a listed building etc. Environmental incident reporting is in addition to any reporting required for Health and Safety reasons (which are reported using the online accident reporting system).

The form can be completed digitally and forwarded to the Head of SESC once complete. You should also retain a copy for your own records. Click Environmental Incident Report form to report an environmental incident.

Environmental Objectives

The environmental objectives 2014 – 2018 are to:

  • Implement key objective action points of the University Biodiversity Plan.

  • Reduce the University’s CO2 emissions by 40% by 2021, based on its 2007/08 baseline.

  • Aim for the highest practicable BREEAM rating for all new construction projects and ensure that a minimum of 10% of the value of materials used on construction projects over £1m is derived from recycled and re-used sources.

  • Embed the principles of sustainable procurement within the University to ensure that the University meets its sustainable procurement duty.

  • Promote the minimisation of waste and provide an infrastructure for re-use and recycling to achieve a 30% reduction in overall waste generated by the University and 90% recycling of waste by 2018.

  • Promote the responsible use of water on campus through better monitoring of water usage patterns and targeted campaigns to reduce water consumption in identified areas of high usage.

Endorsed by the Safety, Health and Environment Committee May 2014

Full details can be read here.

Biodiversity Policy

The University of Stirling recognises the quality of its setting and campus landscape as being of significant value to University students, staff and visitors, as well as the wider community. The campus is recognised as a valuable asset both in terms of its general amenity and as an academic resource. The campus extends to 135ha (334acres) and is subject to two designations – it is a Historic Garden and Designed Landscape and is also within an Area of Great Landscape Value. As part of the development of its Estate Strategy, the University commissioned an Ecological Baseline Report in 2007 to establish the ecological baseline conditions on the campus and inform the development of this policy and a Biodiversity Management Plan. The campus is recognised as a priority habitat, both managed and natural.

The University has stated its commitment to minimising environmental impact in its Sustainability Policy and is committed to protecting, maintaining and improving the biodiversity of its estate. In satisfying this commitment the University aims to:

  • Ensure that it is complying with current legislation relating to the conservation of biodiversity and habitats on campus, and where possible set its own higher standards.
  • Maintain and update the Ecological Baseline Report for the University campus.
  • Develop a Biodiversity Management Plan which sets objectives for maintaining and improving biodiversity on campus whilst recognising the importance of the Historic Garden and Designed Landscape.
  • Where appropriate, create new habitats on campus.
  • Work with local and national partners to promote and enhance biodiversity on the campus and in the wider region.
  • Encourage consultation between relevant academic staff and management on biodiversity issues.
  • Enhance staff, student and community awareness of biodiversity issues on campus, and promote the campus as an educational and recreational resource.
  • Set and review targets for maintaining and improving biodiversity on campus, and report these annually to the Safety, Health and Environment Committee.

E and CS
December 2008

New policy is being developed and is due to be published in Autumn 2021.

Corporate Sustainability Steering Group

The Corporate Sustainability Steering Group (CSSG) was established in November 2015 and meets 4 times a year. The group is chaired by our Senior Deputy Principal (Operational Strategy and External Affairs), who is responsible for the strategic direction of sustainability at the University of Stirling.

The purpose of CSSG is to provide leadership and oversight for sustainability.  It supports the development of sustainability targets and goals and the embedding of environmental values into all parts of University activity and operations.  Some of the key areas that CSSG considers include:

  • Carbon emissions and emissions targets
  • Sustainable procurement
  • Sustainable travel
  • Sustainability policy and related environmental policies
  • Embedding sustainability in learning, teaching and research
  • Student engagement and Green Champions

Group Members:

Chair
Deputy Principal (Operational Strategy and External Affairs)


Malcolm Macleod

Members

 

Head of Safety, Environment and Continuity

Alison Morrison

Head of Procurement

Colin Elliott

Director of Estates and Campus Services

Colin McNally

Environmental Adviser

David Jordan

Head of Policy and Planning

Graeme Duff

Sustainability Development Co-ordinator (Students' Union)

Johannes Schamp

Students’ Union Vice President (Communities)

Alyson MacKay

Internal Communications Officer

Wendy Bailey

Lecturer, Faculty of Natural Sciences (Learning, Teaching and Research Rep)

Eileen Tisdale

Professor, Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Trade Union Rep)

Claire Squires

Planning Support Officer

Tom Collins

Updated August 2021

Recycling

The University is committed to the sustainable management of waste that minimises any environmental impact and promotes resource efficiency whilst ensuring legal compliance.

Objectives

  • To significantly reduce the quantity of waste sent to landfill by reducing the volume of waste produced and increasing reuse, recycling and resource recovery;
  • To manage residual waste in accordance with best practice;
  • To ensure that waste is considered a resource by staff, students and other key stakeholders.

Targets

  • To reduce the level of residual waste to landfill to 10%, by December 2016
  • To reduce the overall volume of waste produced to <900Tonnes per annum, by December 2016

Water

To reduce the consumption of bottled water by staff and students, the university provides free water fountains throughout the campus. Bottled water coolers have been replaced with mains-fed water where possible

Community

Centre for Sustainable Practice and Living

The Centre for Sustainable Practice and Living (CSPL) is a collaborative initiative between the University of Stirling’s Management School and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

As a new interdisciplinary research centre it aims to become one of the leading research and knowledge exchange centres globally studying the many dimensions of sustainability.

 Find out more here

Students’ Union: Green + Blue Dream Team

The Students’ Union environmental team strive to make life here at the University of Stirling more environmentally friendly and build a stronger community as they do this. The Environmental team’s base, the Green + Blue space, is located in the Atrium. Find out more about the Students’ Union Environmental team and their activities.

Sustainable Travel

The University is committed to reducing atmospheric pollution by encouraging more sustainable travel alternatives to, from and between University sites and on University business.

To support this the University has introduced:

  • A salary sacrifice scheme for staff which provides an Income tax and National Insurance efficient way to pay towards the hire of a bicycle and associated safety equipment for 12 months (Cycle scheme).
  • A cycle hire scheme which provides c.100 hire bikes throughout the Stirling Area including approximately 30 bikes at three locations on Campus and various other locations throughout the Stirling Area. Additionally, the University has funded a corporate subscription with Nextbike which allows staff and students free use of the scheme and free rental of a bike for the first 1 hour of every ride (Cycle Hire (Nextbike).

Abandoned Bikes

The University removes abandoned bikes from University grounds in order to maintain adequate, safe, and accessible bike parking. This exercise is usually carried out in May and September in a given year and notice is provided through the Staff and Student Roundups.

Any bikes suspected of being abandoned are recorded and tagged. If they remain tagged for 14 days or more, they are put into storage where they will be held for 6 months. Thereafter they will be donated to Recyke-a-bike to recycle.

If you suspect your bike may have been tagged as abandoned and uplifted, please contact the Tanya Cairns (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm) who can check our Abandoned Bike Register on 01786 467102.

Divestment

The University reaffirmed its commitment to Fossil Fuel divestment in March 2019.

Green Champions Group

The Green Champions Group, essentially a working group, is represented by academics from across different faculties, key directorate staff and the Students Union. The role of the group is to take forward the University’s sustainability objectives through actions and initiatives across the whole of the organisation. It will also form a link between the University’s Corporate Sustainability Steering Group , staff, and students for the exchange of information, ideas and feedback.

Minutes of Green Champions meeting on 14 Feb 2020

Members of Green Champions Group (Agust 2021)

Food

The University’s Catering has an ongoing plan to enhance menus, providing healthier and more sustainable options. We are signatories to the Peas Pledge and we commit to increasing the availability and servings of vegetables across our range of grab and go and sit-in food and beverage outlets on Campus. Building on the success of our grab-and-go vegan retail offer and dedicated V-go brand, we pledge to extending our sit-in offering to include an additional two varieties of vegetables with all plated and kids meals. We will also extend the vegetable grab-and-go offering across our outlets to include a range of crudite pots. Our menus will be developed to include at least 30% vegetarian and vegan options with 160g (2 portions) of vegetables in them, so providing and highlighting healthier choices.

To support sustainability in catering we also:

  • Eliminated all single-use catering plastic including coffee cups, disposable cutlery and straws from the University’s operations. These are now all compostable.
  • Banned plastic carrier bags from all catering outlets and offer biodegradable alternatives. Paper takeaway bags are in use at all outlets.
  • Made available our coffee grounds to the University for usage on the grounds and composting.
  • Collected all our used cooking oil and turned in to biofuel.
  • Used fresh seasonal food to reduce packaging.
  • Use local suppliers to reduce food mileage

Read our commitments in full in our Peas Pledge

Contact us

David Jordan, Environmental Advisor, leads on sustainability (including transport), promotes behavioural change through the Green Champions Group and ensures environmental and carbon regulatory compliance. You can contact him on david.jordan@stir.ac.uk.

You can also get in touch through the Safety, Environment and Continuity team’s dedicated telephone number and mailbox.