The University of Surrey has held sustainability at the heart of its CSR agenda for over a decade, from a long-standing Corporate Sustainability Group through to setting itself an agenda to contribute to the “triple bottom line”, i.e. the point where economic, social and environmental objectives integrate. Additionally, in the last year Surrey has embraced sustainability as one of six strategic imperatives over the next ten years.
Beyond the strategic imperative, Surrey is focusing on sustainability for three reasons:
- it is a challenging field of study with multi-disciplinary research potential;
- graduates are faced with the sustainability agenda in a wide range of professions;
- Surrey’s own energy costs and reliability, travel and land use and adaptation to climate change.
Surrey's approach encompasses seven areas:- resource efficiency, waste management, construction and refurbishment, horticulture, landscape and biodiversity, transport, procurement and teaching and research.
Successes of the approach can be demonstrated by:
- energy projects savings over the last decade of £275,000 per annum
- reduction by 4,700 tonnes per annum of CO2 emissions
- last year, recycling 43% of its total waste (390 tonnes per annum)
Last year, Surrey was awarded a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment and Environmental Assessment Method) rating of excellent for its new student village. Further, its own combined heat and power supply, providing 40% of the site’s power and reducing energy CO2 emissions by 10%, was Highly Commended in the Public Sector Commitment to Carbon Reduction category at the South Eastern Low Carbon Awards.
Surrey owns and manages several green sites, ensuring biodiversity and wildlife flourishes through several activities:
- use of organic fertiliser, grey and rainwater in habitat management;
- recycling of the campus’ organic waste;
- transport plan managing subsidised bus services, cycle routes and car sharing scheme; and
- a ‘green’ procurement policy.
Surrey's distinctive contribution is its leading role in advancing the sustainable development movement as a whole.
Surrey's Centre for Environmental Strategy (CES) is a world leading centre for sustainable development research and postgraduate teaching, combining areas of engineering, natural and social sciences with cutting edge research focused on influencing environmental policy.
Surrey's long-standing Engineering Doctorate in Environmental Technology has resulted in research with over 60 companies and trained over 100 research engineers in sustainability and was recognised last year by an EPSRC review as an exemplar to others.
Surrey has the first Chair of Sustainable Development - Professor Tim Jackson, who is currently Economics Commissioner on the Government's Sustainable Development Commission. He leads RESOLVE research project, a unique cross-disciplinary collaboration between four distinct discipline groups of the University, aiming to unravel the links between lifestyles, values and the environment and to provide robust evidence-based advice to policy makers in the UK and abroad.
Having committed to leading by example, Surrey is now in a position to advise both industry and Government on practice and policy for sustainable living.