The University of York has defended its green agenda, despite recently being ranked joint 109th in the People and Planet 2013 ‘Green League’ Table. The table compares 143 UK institutions, awarding them either a First, 2.1, 2.2, Third or Fail based upon their environmental management and performance.
Overall, York was awarded a ‘Third Class’, with 28 points out of a possible 70 based upon 13 separate criteria.
Other indicators suggest York’s policies on protecting the environment, food recycling, renewable energy, water reduction as well as carbon emission and management were all rated as ‘poor’.
Moreover, ‘activities to integrate sustainability issues in the curriculum’ were rated as ‘poor’, as well as York’s efforts to properly audit ‘water’ and ‘emissions’. York was also told it ‘could do better’ on having a well co-ordinated environment team and ‘ethical’ investment policy concerning the environment and fair trade. Staff and student engagement were classified as ‘poor’.
A University spokesman has disputed the table: “While we welcome our improved position in the Green League, we believe these rankings provide an inaccurate reflection of the University’s significant improvements in sustainability.
“The University has invested nearly £4 million in two combined heat & power (CHP) units and a biomass boiler.
“The total projected carbon saving from these measures is more than 6000 tonnes/year.
“Early returns indicate that in the first month of full operation, CHPs alone saved £110,000 in energy costs, as well as 550 tonnes of carbon.”
He continued: “We shall spend a further £1.5 million over the next two years to improve the district heating system.”
Nick Devlin and Jamie Elliot, the YUSU Environment Officers, told Nouse: “This is an excellent improvement on last year, when York was placed 126th!
“But, of course, the University could still be doing more. It’s losing points in the league all over the place, however more commitment to sustainability and an ethical campus would be able to move York up the table.”
While the University has increased in size by over 70 per cent since 2002/3, there has been just an 18 per cent increase in vehicles travelling to and from the University.