Caption: Pictured are, from left, Michael John O’Mahony, Director of the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce; Lorraine Rushe, Environmental, Health and Safety Manager at NUI Galway; and Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Registrar and Deputy President, NUI Galway. Photo by Aengus McMahon.
Apr 23 2019 Posted: 12:17 IST

University secures An Taisce’s prestigious international Green Flag accreditation

NUI Galway was recently awarded the internationally recognised Green Flag by An Taisce’s Green-Campus programme on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education. The internationally recognised ‘Green Flag’ award was announced following a rigorous assessment process.   

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. The Green Flag Award is the result of many years of hard work undertaken to promote best practice in sustainability across five themes which include energy, waste, travel, biodiversity and water. 

Environmental, Health and Safety Manager at NUI Galway Lorraine Rushe said: “This award is hugely important to the University 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 Universities commitment to sustainability and its achievements to date.”

Campus projects in the area of sustainability include:

  • A 34% reduction in energy since 2006, a metric audited and validated by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). This exceeds the SEAI national target of a 33% reduction by 2020, which has resulted in a refreshed target of 40% reduction by 2020. This has been achieved through a range of measures, including a combined heat and power plant, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic panels, air to water heat pumps, the introduction of biomass boilers and the implementation of LED high efficient lighting systems across campus.
  • Subscribing to the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan in 2018 and introducing a pollinator-friendly planting scheme throughout the campus.
  • The introduction of composting stacks, bird boxes and insect hotels to the Biodiversity Trail and other locations across campus, in addition to the establishment of herb beds and two new fruit gardens, which are used by staff and students and in campus restaurants.
  • 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.
  • A curriculum focus on sustainability with 230 modules across all Colleges that contain an element on, or a focus on, sustainability.
  • Ensuring all disposable cups across outlets on campus are biodegradable.

NUI Galway set up a Community and University Sustainability Project in 2015 under the direction of the Registrar and Deputy President, which launched its Sustainability Strategy in 2017. The Green Campus Committee work very closely with the Community and University Sustainability Project (CUSP) team and their work involves spreading information to the wider University audience on issues varying from energy and greenhouse gas emissions to biodiversity, health and wellbeing, the built environment, research and learning and governance and leadership. 

Registrar and Deputy President of NUI Galway and Chair of the Community and University Sustainability Project, Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, said: “NUI Galway recognises that we all have 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.” 

Professor Ó Dochartaigh concluded: “This achievement would not be possible without the commitment of the campus community. The buildings and estates team, academics, administrators and students and staff across the campus have all played an important role in achieving the Green Flag. NUI Galway will continue to promote sustainability beyond the Green Campus programme and incorporate it into all aspects of University life as this is of utmost importance to the implementation of our Sustainability Strategy”.

Michael John O’Mahony, Director of the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce, congratulated the NUI Galway Green-Campus Committee on their programme. “The commitment of the Green Campus committee and the wider campus community in NUI Galway is evident by the number, range and impact of activities being undertaken. Furthermore, the structures are in place to have sustainability at the core of how NUI Galway operates. The work in the areas of renewable energy and biodiversity are examples of best practice. The teamwork of staff, students and contractors in the Green Campus efforts are to be applauded. We are delighted to officially recognise the efforts of all at NUI Galway and we look forward to continuing to work with them.”

-Ends-

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