Nottingham Trent University (NTU) is one of the largest universities in the UK and comprises three very different campuses in and around the city: a modern city site located in the cosmopolitan centre, a traditional self-contained campus and an agricultural school set in a 200 hectare estate. Very much an organisation with an environmental focus, NTU has twice been ranked first place in the People and Planet Green League and is consistently one of the top five ‘green’ universities in the UK.
At the forefront of environmental management in the education sector; eight years ago NTU was invited as one of ten pilot institutes to take part in Eco Campus, the leading environmental management system and awards scheme for the higher and further education sectors.
The university first implemented an environmental management system in the 1990s. This was formalised around 2008 after the university worked through the four stages of Eco Campus, leading it to complete the final ‘platinum’ stage after being audited and awarded ISO 14001 certification by NQA.
Saving the planet
The fundamental reason behind NTU’s drive to achieve and maintain ISO 14001 certification is that it wants to reduce the impact it has on the environment; the employees and students do not want to cause the planet any undue harm. Grant Anderson, environmental manager at NTU, said:
“As a university we were doing a lot of work prior to joining Eco Campus and working with NQA but we wanted structure. We also wanted to make sure that our activities were compliant with all legislation and that we were doing the best we could.”
Securing extra resources
Having a certified environmental management system has helped the team at NTU gather the extra resources needed to implement projects, both in terms of budget and people. Anderson explains:
“Given the varying nature of our campuses and schools, the projects we wanted to implement have not always been straight forward but the certification has helped the cause greatly. Without the funding generated as a result of having ISO 14001 certification the waste management, uni-link busses and cycle hire schemes would not have happened. The same can be said for the projects aimed at managing oil storage, flooding and chemical spillages.”
The benefits are in the numbers
Speaking of NTU’s environmentally focussed projects Anderson says:
“Waste management was one the most important projects for us and as a result we now have a 90% recycling rate, up from around 50-60% five years ago.”
Reducing car usage is important to the university in its drive to reduce its impact on the environment. Anderson continues:
“The University’s uni-link bus scheme with the local transport company has witnessed a staggering 521% growth in passenger numbers since it was first introduced in 2005/2006. This has dramatically helped in reducing car usage amongst staff and students, this year only 21% of students and staff are using cars.
Recycling to Cycling
“We have also invested heavily in cycling; building secure compounds and extra showers along with introducing a bike hire scheme. We have 250 bikes for hire and around 75% of these are hired out at the start of each academic year, with the remainder being offered at a reduced rate for the spring and summer period.”
Working with NQA
Since being introduced to NQA through Eco Campus the university and NQA have had a very good relationship. Anderson explains:
“We know the auditors and, importantly, they know us. They know what to look for and always provide good feedback.”
“Having the platinum status and ISO 14001 certification certainly adds weight to our marketing collateral for attracting new students. They and the wider public are certainly attracted by our green ethos which is why we are fully committed to continual improvement” concludes Anderson.