The Green-Campus Programme is an international environmental education and award scheme that promotes long-term, whole college action for the environment that empowers both students and staff to create a more balanced campus community and to reduce environmental impacts and associated costs.
Lorraine Rushe, environmental, health and safety manager at NUI Galway, says this award is hugely important as it recognises the engagement by staff and students and the vast effort and hard work that is ongoing in the thematic areas.
"Each theme poses its own unique challenges, but is essential to ensuring that our campus achieves environmental, social and economic sustainability, which will benefit us now and into the future. Attaining the ‘An Taisce Green Campus Flag’ will act as a visual sign of the university commitment to sustainability and its achievements to date."
The Community and University Sustainability Project was set up by NUI Galway in 2015 under the direction of the registrar and deputy president, which launched its Sustainability Strategy in 2017. It worked closely with the Green Campus Committee team which involved spreading information to the wider university audience on issues varying from energy and greenhouse gas emissions to biodiversity, health and well-being, research and learning, governance. and leadership.
Campus projects in the area of sustainability include a 34 per cent reduction in energy since 2006, which has been achieved through a range of measures, including a combined heat and power plant, air to water heat pumps, and using LED high efficient lighting systems. Additionally, composting stacks have been introduced, as well as bird boxes and insect hotels which have been placed along the Biodiversity Trail and other locations across campus. Other initiatives include reducing the impact of transport, through the university's park and ride shuttle bus service on campus, coupled with the cycle-to-work scheme and the installation of 14 electric car-charging points across campus, together with ensuring all disposable cups across outlets on campus are biodegradable.
Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, registrar and deputy president of NUI Galway and chair of the Community and University Sustainability Project, says NUI Galway recognises that everyone has a role to play in building a sustainable society, and universities have a particular responsibility to promote sustainability through education, knowledge exchange, research, corporate social responsibility and shaping future agendas.
"A sustainable campus is one which maintains a green and healthy environment, promotes the use of resources efficiently and instils in graduates and staff the importance of tackling environmental challenges."