Keele University Sustainability Champions win Green Gown Awards

Posted on 11 November 2016

Keele University is celebrating after winning its greatest number of awards yet at the prestigious Green Gown Awards 2016, thanks to its pioneering leadership, teaching, and student excellence in sustainability.

Green Awards 600

Universities and colleges from across the UK and Ireland came together for the annual awards ceremony held on 10th November at the Athena in Leicester. 21 Winners and 26 Highly Commended entries from 115 finalists represented 1.5 million students and 240,000 staff. With an audience of 390 sustainability leaders applauding sustainability excellence within tertiary education, the Green Gown Awards celebrated those that are making the radical change that is needed, leading the path to efficiency, employability and creating a better future of life for us all.

David Emley, from the School of Geography, Geology and the Environment at Keele, won in the individual category of ‘Sustainability Champion Award - Staff

Throughout his career at Keele University, Dave’s passion for Keele’s natural history and commitment to sustaining its future, has led to a career-long labour of love for Keele’s campus. He has established Keele’s Arboretum and National Collection of Flowering Cherries and provided resources and guided tours to help Keele use its campus as a living lab for students and a fantastic place to visit for the community and beyond.

Delivering talks, walks and teaching from outreach through to staff and the wider community, Dave has engaged others in discussing the natural surroundings at Keele since he joined in 1973. He has tagged over 3,000 trees and recorded sightings of flora and fauna that were published in 2014 in a book called the Natural History of Keele University.

Dave took a lead role in establishing a collection of Flowering Cherry Trees on campus, which in 2013 was awarded National Collection Status. Awarded Keele’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2015, Dave’s commitment to Keele’s natural history has provided a vital resource for generations to come.

Video: David talks about his sustainability work at Keele University

Recently graduated student, Ulrich Pohanka was also highly commended in an individual category ‘Sustainability Champion Award - Student’.

Ulrich Pohanka, a graduate from our BSc in Environment & Sustainability, set up the Keele Food Co-op during his time at Keele, providing the campus with more than 6 tonnes of organic produce over two years. He has represented the University at two World Student Environmental Network Global Summits, securing the event at Keele in 2016.

Providing leadership and inspiration to other students, Ulrich chose not to fly home to Austria during his entire degree, choosing to spend hours on coaches and trains, and his dissertation on ‘Keele’s International Student Body’s Air Travel Emissions’, has been presented to Keele’s Environmental Manager and International Office.

Ulrich has been part of Think:Green, a student-led service that serves as a platform for students to realise their own ‘green’ projects which led to setting up the ‘Vegetarian & Vegan’ society, organising trips to the local dairy farm, leafleting sessions on campus and improvement of vegan food on the menus.

The individual Sustainability Champion Awards recognise people at any level who have worked hard at implementing a sustainability project/ initiative (or several) and whose involvement has made a positive impact be that on their peers, their institution, their students, their local community or their local workforce.

In the highly competitive Learning and Skills category, Keele University was ‘Highly Commended’ for its Trojan Mouse of Sustainability work, representing Keele’s holistic approach to embedding sustainability education across the University.

The approach involves ‘Trojan Mice’ that infiltrate the student and staff experience through multiple ‘mouse holes’, leaving ‘droppings’ behind that fertilise further sustainability activity.

These mouse holes and ‘droppings’ occur at all levels, and have provided fertile ground, from which have sprung many new developments driven by programme teams across the Faculties and Schools of the University, helping Keele University move towards their sustainability goals.

The Learning and Skills category recognises achievement in the development of academic courses, skills and capabilities relevant to sustainability. These can be vocational, undergraduate or postgraduate courses or related to wider purposes such as community involvement, global or environmental awareness or to support lifestyle changes.

Professor Mark Ormerod, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost at Keele University and institutional lead for sustainability, commented:

“The Learning and Skills award reflects the success of our holistic, whole-institution approach to sustainability as a key overarching priority for Keele University, and the activity of many individuals at Keele. This approach is led by Dr Zoe Robinson our Director of Education for Sustainability, but relies on the excellent work of staff all around the University.”

Keele was also shortlisted in the Carbon Reduction category, a highly competitive category with some high-value projects.

Higher Education Institutions are proving how sustainability is just good business sense. From the efficient buildings they create and the effective way they use energy, to how they create students fit for the future, their research in finding better ways to adapt to a changing climate and the communities they impact, universities and colleges are at the forefront of radically creating a better future.

The awards were hosted by Mike Barry, Director of Sustainable Business, Marks & Spencer. Mike commented:

"We stand on the cusp of great change in the economy and society. It is no longer enough to be a ‘less bad organisation’ focused on preventing the worst environmental and social excesses. Every higher and further education establishment, business and government department needs to be thinking about how we change radically our approach to education, commerce and politics to create a future that is low carbon, equal, circular, fair, restorative and committed to the wellbeing of all. The Green Gown Awards help identify these sustainability best practices and encourage the wider higher and further education system to scale up their use."