9 December 2016 16:22

Lancaster University has achieved transformative change with an imaginative and innovative approach to sustainability and carbon reduction targets, which has been recognised as leading the HE sector both in the UK and internationally.

As part of its Carbon management plan it has implemented a range of projects which have directly reduced the University's carbon footprint by over 20% (to meet challenging carbon reduction targets of 43% by 2020 and 83% by 2050) and driven unprecedented behavioural change amongst students and staff.

Lancaster University's 2.3MW wind turbine, the first of its kind at a UK university, produces 5,000MWh of electricity per annum (15% of University electricity consumption), and is four years old this year. 

The now fully refurbished energy centre has enabled the University to provide low carbon heat and electricity across campus and incorporates a 2MW Combined Heat and Power (CHP) engine (which generates approximately 25% of University electricity), and a 1MW biomass boiler which produces 15% of University heat requirements.  Both of these projects have reduced University carbon emissions by over 3,000tCO2e.

A key part of the strategy has been the collaboration with the students' union team (LUSU), through GreenLancaster, to achieve behavioural changes. The award winning 'Project Exodus' student reuse project collected 50 tonnes of items for reuse from students in 2016 and has helped the University improve its recycling rate to 83%, its highest to date.  

Sustainable food has been a major theme in recent years with the Edible Campus project and the 'Ecohub' student growing facility has developed as a key project over the last two years incorporating extensive growing areas, the refurbished bars, chickens, polytunnel, and pond.  The facility is extensively used by the Green lancaster team and student volunteers and hosts lots of school and community engagement events.

Continuing on the sustainable food theme lancaster University was recognised as best in sector for its integrated approach to sustainable food issues with the presentation of a 'Green Gown Award' for sustainable Food in November 2015.

The University's Travel Plan has been so successful that targets set for 2015 for bus use, car sharing and sole occupancy car use have already been achieved. More than half of staff and 88% of students use sustainable methods of transport, resulting in carbon emission reductions of 25%.

Measures to encourage people to leave their cars behind included the highly popular subsidised university staff bus passes (with an impressive 30% increase in staff take-up) and major timetable improvements. Lancaster also introduced a bike to work and bike pool scheme.