Biodiversity

We support a number of academic biodiversity initiatives.

Our campus is home to a range of plant and animal species and hosts an array of student, academic and community initiatives that seek to promote and preserve biodiversity.

From bat and bird boxes to schools engagement activity; from student growing projects to community links through the Friends of Cruickshank Gardens, there are a range of initiatives to support biodiversity.

Buildings

Our new build and refurbishment projects reflect the institutional commitment to sustainability.

Sustainable Buildings

The Sustainable Buildings section of the Environmental Sustainability Policy sets out the University's commitments to sustainability in the context of campus development, whether it be refurbishment or new build.

These commitment were initially exemplified in our Sir Duncan Rice Library and the Suttie Centre both of which secured BREEAM 'Excellent' ratings and were recognised nationally. More recently, a number of projects have reinforced these commitments by embedding micro-renewable or low-energy technologies. 

Most notably these include the completion of our Green Gown award winning Passivhaus 'Rocking Horse Nursery' (our on-campus pre-school hildcare facility for staff and students).  Meanwhile, our new Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health building is on target to secure an 'Outstanding' in the BREEAM methodology and was shortlisted for a 2015 BREEAM award

Links to articles on these projects can be found below:

Further information on the work of the Estates Projects team, including links to all our capital projects, can be found here.

Carbon

Our Carbon Management Plan (CMP) outlines our commitments and the projects we have identified to reduce our carbon footprint.

During the summer of 2016, our second CMP (2016-21) was drafted, identifying an array of projects that will further improve energy efficiency across the campus.  A number of projects from the plan have been implemented and progress in 2016/17 has been strong - with initial indications that the in-year target for reductions from energy use has been substantially exceeded.

Our 2016-21 CMP is available online.  It supercedes the first CMP (introduced in 2010 and drafted in consultation with the Carbon Trust) which was part of the sector-wide Universities & Colleges Climate Commitment for Scotland (UCCCfS).  It established goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, with emphasis on technical projects associated with energy use.

As with much of the sector, the simultaneous expansion of campuses, coupled with demands for energy intensive equipment are a constant challenge.  Despite these challenges, incremental improvements help keep emissions in check and improve energy efficiency.  These include:

  • the campus wide installation of PC energy management software;
  • the installation of solar panels at Hillhead, our main student residence;
  • the completion of an impressively energy-efficient shared data centre that serves all of the region's tertiary education providers;
  • widespread window replacement, insulation programmes, and proximity sensors on lights;
  • the gradual replacement of less energy efficient bulbs with LEDs;
  • the completion of our award-winning Passivhaus Nursery building;
  • recalibration of our Combined Heat and Power engine resulting in significant energy savings.

Yet for every successful initiative, demands for new equipment or new or refurbished buildings mean the work to embed energy efficiency in all that we do continues.

Energy

We are working to reduce our energy consumption and to improve energy efficiency, helping reduce CO2 emissions and operational costs.

Energy Use and Energy Efficiency

The University's electricity and gas consumption is equivalent to that of a small town. It is, therefore, essential that we seek to improve our energy efficiency, use energy from renewable sources where possible, and reduce our emissions from energy use.

Energy related queries can be directed to our Energy Manager or phone 01224 273266.

Campus Initiative

Among our main initiatives has been the replacement of our Central Heating Station with a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant in 2007.  This facility generates electricity and diverts the by-product of that process (steam) to heat the campus.

As part of a major refurbishment of our main student residence (Hillhead), we have installed an extensive solar panel aray at our Hillhead residences site.  We are also actively investigating biomass, other renewable, and ‘passive’ technologies to help improve our energy performance.  We will continue to ensure that all new buildings conform to high energy efficiency standards.

In addition to major infrastructure projects, the University has invested in a number of energy efficiency (and emissions reduction) measures that include:

Reporting

Details of our Energy performance in recent years is available in the following documents:

Energy Reports

Utilities Reports 

Individual Measures

Details of the measures individuals can take to reduce energy use include:

  • Using multi-functional devices for day-to-day printing needs;
  • Buying only the most energy efficient equipment for your lab or office;
  • Ensuring all equipment (PCs, printers, plasma screens etc.) are switched off overnight or hibernated when not in use.
Procurement

We support the sector-wide commitment to sustainable procurement.

The University's Procurement Team is based in the Directorate of Finance.

The team oversees purchasing activity and manages contracts used across the University for items from paper to vehicles. They also provide a full range of central tendering services and ensure that procurement remains compliant with our own regulations and national legislation.

We recognise the growing role of procurement as a driver of sustainability performance and are investigating ways to work internally and across the sector to ensure procurement activity supports sustainability objectives.

We are delighted to have been part of the Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges (APUC) working group on Sustainable Procurement that has introduced a Supply Chain Policy and Code of Conduct. 

We also welcome the work of APUC in providing all universities in Scotland with an estimate of their greenhouse gas emissions from procurement activity.  These reports were first produced for the sector in 2012/13 and annually thereafter.

Procurement Emissions Summary

In 2014/15 the University's procurement team worked with the AUSA to affiliate the University with the Electronics Watch initiative and more recently have asked APUC to investigate a sector-wide affiliation.

Sustainable IT

Through collaborative initiatives and the pursuit of technological efficiency we work to ensure our IT systems support sustainability goals.

The use of ever more energy efficient technology and the need to consider sustainability in all IT procurement decisions have been established as priorities under a commitment to "Deliver Greener IT", one of the six strategic aims of the IT Services Strategic Plan 2012-2016. Read more

Data Centre Project

The first in a series of collaborative data centre projects between the University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University, and North East Scotland College opened in 2013. Given the substantial financial and carbon savings such collaborative projects can deliver for the sector, further projects are being developed with educational and other partners.

Details of the Edward Wright Building data centre, which scooped several national awards, including a sector Green Gown Award, a British Computing Society UK IT Industry Award, and a Scottish Green Energy Award are available below. Read more

Other Projects

In recent years the University has introduced a number of technology initiatives to improve energy efficiency and reduce waste.  These include:

  • remote power management on campus PCs
  • print migration to multi-function devices
  • rationalisation and virtualisation of server provision

Further virtualisation, greater use of shared data centres and the consolidation of print services across the campus will continue to drive down energy use, support the delivery of carbon targets and reduce costs.

Transport

Our Sustainable Travel Plan aims to reduce the impact of staff, student and visitor travel.

Transport and Travel Planning

As one of the largest employers in the North-East of Scotland, and with a sizable student population, the University recognises that it has a significant impact on the region’s transport network through both the conduct of its activities and commuting associated with study and work.

Transport related queries can be directed to our Transport & Waste Manager or phone 01224 272254.

Travel Plan

The development of a sustainable travel plan is a significant element in the fulfilment of our institution wide commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. It is also a central requirement of planning conditions set by local and national government as part of new capital projects.

Our Sustainable Travel Plan aims to:

  • reduce the number of single occupancy cars travelling to the University;
  • ensure the best utilisation of University car parking resources;
  • continually improve and promote the range of low carbon transport options available to staff, students and visitors for travel to the University, and between University sites;
  • reduce the environmental impact of travel associated with University operations.

The full plan is available at Sustainable Travel Plan.

Reporting

The University conducts biennial surveys of staff and students to gauge travel behaviours and assess progress towards the goals outlined in the plan. 

Travel Survey Reports detailing the outcomes of those surveys are available below:

Travel Options

Among the initiatives we use to encourage sustainable travel behaviours at the University are:

  • Cycle parking places for over 500 bikes in Old Aberdeen and 100 at Foresterhill (see locations);
  • Secure cycle storage facilities on campus and at Hillhead;
  • Support for a free car-sharing scheme (full details and registration);
  • Provision of an inter-campus shuttle-bus service.

The University also supports an occasional cycle-to-work scheme for staff.  Details are widely circulated when this scheme is in operation.

The campus also hosts BeCycle, a local community bicycle workshop.

The University is also well served by a range of public transport options and we encourage staff and students to use these wherever possible.

Bus services are provided by First Group and Stagecoach Bluebird. Commuter rail services link Aberdeen with Portlethen, Stonehaven, Laurencekirk, Inverurie and Huntly. Inter-city services provide connectivity to stations across the UK.

It is also possible to walk between our campuses, student residences and the city centre.  While walking times vary by individual, our two main campuses are around 35-40 minutes apart by foot.

Waste

We aim to reduce the volume of waste we produce and to encourage reuse and recycling.

Waste Management

As part of our effort to make efficient use of resources, we aim to embed waste management into corporate policies and processes and to adopt the principles of the waste hierarchy - REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE.

Our aims are to reduce the volume of waste generated in the first place and the volume sent to landfill, while improving reuse and recycling rates.

Waste related queries can be directed to our Transport & Waste Manager or phone 01224 272254.

Waste Initiatives

The environmental benefits of diverting material from landfill are clear, but there are also legislative and financial drivers that encourage us to reduce waste at source while improving our recycling and reuse rates.

Scotland's Zero Waste Plan sets out the Scottish Government's vision for a zero waste society. It sees all waste as a resource and aims to ensure that waste is minimised; valuable resources are not disposed of in landfill; most waste is sorted; and only limited amounts of waste are left to be treated.

In recent years the University has used a range of innovative ways of diverting waste from landfill.  These have included:

  • WEEE amnesty events, where students, staff and the public have been encouraged to donate damaged electrical items for recycling (in partnership with the local authority);
  • annual student accommodation clearance schemes where local charities benefit from items left behind at the end of term;
  • charitable partnership with Re-Using IT to divert ex-use IT equipment for re-use in African schools and in social enterprise projects locally.
Reporting

Full details of our waste, recycling and reuse performance in recent years is available in our annual Waste Reports:

Staff and Student Advice

Staff and students at the University can assist in these efforts by considering how the waste they generate will be disposed of and by helping to minimise waste wherever possible.

The University has extensive recycling facilities around campus, and has contracts in place to recycle a wide variety of materials.  Secure paper disposal and recycling consoles are distributed across campus.

Detailed guidance is available to staff colleagues (via the Estates section's operational pages at the link below) on all aspects of waste disposal.  Examples of the activities you'll find guidance on include:

  • clearing an office (e.g. large volumes of paper or books);
  • looking for a new home for used office furniture;
  • disposing of chemical or clinical wastes;
  • trying to recycle or reuse used or damaged electrical equipment.

For more information visit the Waste and Recycling page

Water

We have established targets to reduce water usage and improve water efficiency.

Water Use and Conservation

The University is committed to reducing water usage in order to secure both environmental benefits and to minimise the impact of ever increasing costs.

Our Environmental Sustainability Policy outlines an ongoing 2% year on year reduction target.

Water related queries can be directed to our Energy Manager or phone 01224 273266

Infrastructure

Through its use of water in taps, toilets, research, catering and residences, the University is classified as a ‘large’ water user by Scottish Water.

In recent years the University has introduced a number of initiatives and water saving technologies. These have included:

  • installing push head or sensor controlled taps in toilet areas;
  • improved flush control in urinals to reduce water consumption outside operating hours;
  • introducing low volume cisterns as standard;
  • improved water metering and leak identification.

These measures have contributed to a reduction of over 100,000 cubic metres (equivalent to 100,000 tonnes of water) per year.

The University has been active in replacing bottled water coolers with plumbed in alternatives. While this increases mains water consumption, it avoids an array of environmental issues associated with the transportation, disposal and use of bottled water supplies. It is also significantly less expensive.

Reporting

Full details of our Water performance in recent years is ;available in our Utilities Reports.

Individual Measures

While the University has an institutional role in reducing water consumption, staff and students also have an important role to play.

By adopting simple behaviours we can all support this objective. By only using the water we need, not letting taps run when not in use and reporting any leaks we see (via extension 3333) we can all do our bit.

Where more complex issues regarding the use of water emerge, for example in the cooling of laboratory research equipment, the Estates team is happy to advise you on whether there may be more effective ways to chill equipment.