OVER 360 sustainability leaders were on the edge of their seats at The University of Manchester’s stunning Whitworth Hall, as author and TV presenter Simon Reeve announced the winners of this year’s Green Gown Awards.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the awards ceremony was the biggest and best yet with 15 Winners, 25 Highly Commended and it also saw the crowning of its 100th winner!
The action packed evening was hosted by adventure-loving presenter Simon Reeve. Simon is best known for his unique brand of documentary-making, combining travel and adventure with current affairs, history, wildlife, culture and conservation. He is also an ambassador for the nature conservation organisation WWF, and has been awarded a One World Broadcasting Trust award for an “outstanding contribution to greater world understanding”, and the prestigious 2012 Ness Award by the Royal Geographical Society.
Simon was delighted to support this celebration of sustainability best practice within the tertiary education sector and said: “I was delighted and honoured to be asked to get involved with the Green Gown Awards this year. On my journeys I see the increasing impact of humans on the natural world and the issues caused by completely unsustainable lifestyles. So the extraordinary work of brilliant minds at our universities and colleges to help create a more sustainable world is something we should all be celebrating and applauding.”
Every year the Awards bring together the most inspirational projects from across the sector and - as Green Gown Awards UK celebrated their 10th anniversary - 2014 was no exception. In the Best Newcomer Award, Uxbridge College scored a win with their ‘E-Collegey at Uxbridge College’ project, which was launched in 2012 to boost participation in green activities and encourage awareness of sustainability issues. Laraine Smith OBE, Principal and Chief Executive at Uxbridge College captures the ethos of the Awards as she comments: “As we continue to develop our sustainable practices the Best Newcomer Green Gown Award encourages and inspires us to do more”.
In the newly introduced Leadership Award - sponsored by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education – which is exclusive to senior strategic leadership at a tertiary education institution and recognises individuals at the most senior level in institutions, Professor Pat Bailey, Keele University, took home the prize for his sterling service to sustainability. Commenting on what it means to win, Vice Chancellor Professor Nick Foskett has this to say: “We feel that Keele University is one of the stand-out universities for its achievements in sustainability across a range of initiatives, and this Green Gown Award is fitting recognition for Pat, as well as highlighting the importance of delivering change through the commitment and example of senior colleagues.”
Guests at the prestigious black tie ceremony included university and college representatives from across the UK, joined by leading figures from institutions such as the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Scottish Funding Council, Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE), Association of Colleges (AoC), Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) to commend visionary projects which are pushing the sustainable good practice boundaries.
Organised and delivered by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), Chief Executive Iain Patton describes the importance of the Green Gown Awards, “The Awards Ceremony was an excellent opportunity to celebrate all of those involved within universities and colleges that are working tirelessly to improve our world. Our host, Simon Reeve, provided a global context to the impact that all of our actions have and illustrated just how important the work happening in universities and colleges is. It was fitting to be hosted by The University of Manchester for our 10th anniversary with such superb sustainable food.”
Winners from the three international categories: Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change, Social Responsibility and Student Engagement will be going head-to-head with the winners of the Australasia, French speaking regions and the UK for the coveted International Green Gown Awards. Winners will be announced at the ACTS Conference taking place on 6th November 2014 and the announcement can be watched live.
A snapshot of some of the winning entries include:
Queen’s University Belfast– (Research and Development winner, category supported by ARMA) for their solar disinfection of water initiative improving water quality over 5.8 million people in over 30 countries.
Hull College (Social Responsibility Winner and going through to the International Green Gown Awards) for their ‘East Hull Voids transform lives’ initiative which supports families in-need by transforming run-down and derelict properties into modern and affordable homes in the community.
University of Exeter – (Construction and Refurbishment Winner, category supported by Turley) for their project transforming Cornwall House, a 1960s energy hungry tired site, into a revitalised building fit to be part of a low carbon campus of the future.
University of Strathclyde – and the 100th winner of an Award! (Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change Winner and going through to the International Green Gown Awards) for their ambitious ‘Sustainable Strathclyde’ strategy which includes an aim to be carbon neutral by 2030.
The Green Gown Awards are an inspiration, not only to the education sector, but to all organisations, showing documented evidence that by working together, a huge impact can be achieved! As Neil Pemberton, Director of Specialist Sales at BT says "At BT, we use the power of communications to make a better world, so it is an honour for BT to be sponsoring the Green Gown Awards in their 10th year. Sustainability is steadily increasing in importance for institutions in terms of their financial and operational performance, and these awards are testimony to that."
For an online copy of the Winners’ Brochure which contains all the Winners, Highly Commended, Finalists and the International Category Winners, please visit www.greengownawards.org.uk