University College Cork (UCC) has reaffirmed its standing as the world’s first Green Flag campus, with the renewal of the prestigious environmental accolade by An Taisce. UCC was the first university in the world to be awarded the status of a Green Campus by the Foundation of Environmental Education and An Taisce in 2010.
Its renewal, a world first in itself for the international Green Flag campus programme, follows a rigorous re-evaluation by an expert panel of UCC’s performance in this area. An Taisce once again granted the international accreditation following a detailed review of a portfolio of achievements, validated by a formal site visit.
A number of student-led environmental initiatives in 2007 proved to be the catalyst that led to UCC’s first Green Flag award, in conjunction with an extensive environmental review by the Buildings & Estates Department at UCC and academic staff.
The Green-Campus programme has seen UCC take significant strides forward in its sustainability. Recycling rates have increased from 21% in 2007 to 75% in 2012, with a plan in place for this figure to exceed 90% in the coming years.
The total campus energy consumption, which relies exclusively on green provision, has been reduced by 9%. The number of UCC staff members cycling to work has doubled from 6% in 2007 to 12% in 2012.
The campus landscape, external spaces and public walkways have seen marked upgrades. Some of the most significant outcomes include a cumulative saving on waste of nearly €1,000,000 in the last 6 years, as well as over 750,000 cu m of water have been saved since 2007.
President of UCC, Dr Michael Murphy, comments: “It is a source of immense pride to the University, its staff and its students for UCC to become the first third level institution in the world to reaffirm this important recognition. It is wonderful to see our students take such innovative and creative steps towards ensuring UCC remains a leader when it comes to sustainability and a marvellous example of good citizenship by all involved.”
Student buy-in from the outset has been pivotal to the success of UCC’s Green Campus programme, with both the Students’ Union (SU) and UCC Environmental Society taking a leading role.
Mark Poland, UCC’s Director of Building and Estates, remarks: “Maintaining Green Campus status is an endeavour we take very seriously through continually trying to improve our environmental performance in waste management, commuting and energy. The renewed status not only recognises the on-going commitment of students and staff towards ensuring the practice of running a modern campus meets stringent environmental standards, but it also rewards them on a global scale”.
The development continues to build on the momentum generated by further international recognition recently. UCC is now ranked 3rd in the world from a field of 215 competing universities in the Universitas Indonesia Greenmetric World University Ranking system, due to its exceptional work in the area of environment-friendly university management. It is ranked second in the world in the category of urban campus.