Students name Sunderland's accommodation greenest in UK
Released: Monday 23rd July 2012 at 16:02
Sunderland has been named the greenest University in the UK for student accommodation.
The University of Sunderland was named top in the country in a survey of over 120 universities and colleges. Sunderland won the Best Environmental Management Award in the 2012 National Student Housing Survey.
This is the first time the University of Sunderland has taken part in the survey, which this year listened to the views of over 19,000 students from throughout the UK, and, says university Residential Service Manager Helen Robson, the survey not only reflects the pioneering work of the university – it also shows that our students are good environmental citizens.
“We’ve been working very closely with both the Student Union and the city to look strategically at the needs of our students’ accommodation in Sunderland,” says Helen. “We very much regard this as an accolade for the City as well as for our university, as 50 per cent of the students who replied to the survey were living in private housing.”
The university and City have worked closely to recognise the needs of students as a group within the community, collating the views of students which will be used to inform City Housing planning.
“Environmentally friendly accommodation is regarded as hugely important among our students, and we have seen this reflected not only in this survey, but also in our students’ behaviour. For instance three years ago, in response to customer demand we decided to switch to all-inclusive rent, so that students’ heating and electricity was part of their rent. This has significantly improved our students living-in experience, and helps with their budgeting.
“We have monitored and managed energy use over that time, and over those three years we have never charged anyone for going over their limit for energy use. We manage our environmental issues, from recycling to efficient transport to heating, but it is not driven by us, it is driven by our students.”
Sunderland was one of the first universities in the UK to produce a Corporate Social Responsibility charter. Sunderland was also one of the UK’s first Fairtrade universities; and the first in the region to sign up to the Higher Education Carbon Management Programme.
The university has also signed up to the Low Carbon City partnership, has gained the Carbon Trust Standard award, and won further awards for its green buildings. Sunderland recently committed to reduce its carbon emissions by 48% by 2020. Since 2005 the University has reduced gas and electricity usage by 24.8% – saving in the region of £400,000 per year.
The City of Sunderland Economic Masterplan (published in October 2010) identifies Sunderland as “an entrepreneurial University City at the heart of a low carbon regional economy”.