2017 Sustainability Policy Review

The University introduced a new Vision and Strategy in 2016  which includes Sustainability as one of its six main themes. To support the this, the University is reviewing its Sustainability Policy and would like your comments and suggestions on what should be included. 

The aim of the policy is to provide a direction for sustainability progress and builds on work carried out over the last ten years as well as the three actions noted in the University Strategy which relate to:

  1. Students learning about sustainability
  2. Research and sustainability
  3. Broad targets to reduce our environmental impact including transport, water use and becoming a carbon neutral campus by 2030.

This also underpins our four 2015 Green Capital Pledges on carbon, transport, student learning on sustainability and procuring goods and services sustainably. Finally the policy looks to cover most of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, though some are the focus of other University policies.

The new policy sets out 15 key themes covering a range of environmental, economic and social issues and notes what the key aim is for each theme. Here is the draft policy Draft Sustainability Policy Oct 2017 (PDF, 271kB).

Explanation of acronyms used in draft sustainability policy.

EMS - Environmental Management System - A systematic procedure to assess an organisations sustainability impact and to set out how these impacts will be addressed.

UN - United Nations

KPI's - Key Performance Indicators - These set out how the policy will be measured to see if it is successful.

UMT - University Management Team - The committee of senior managers in the university directing day to day policy.

URI's - University Research Institutes - Generally institutes with broad interdisciplinary research themes, University wide.

SRI's - Special Research Institutes - Research institutes with a more specific research theme, though still interdisciplinary. 

The policy and strategies have been developed during the last year with over 40 key stakeholders and theme leads, as well as the University’s senior management team. 

Under each of the 15 themes will be a ‘delivery strategy’, these can be seen below. The strategies aim to set how we will deliver the thematic aim set out in the policy. This will include key objectives, targets and timescales. 

Each strategy will also have an annual implementation plan which will show what is happening each year to deliver progress for each theme. These are not shown here, but will be available once the policy and strategies are agreed, but previous years plans can be seen at objectives, targets and programmes  to give you an idea of the type of activity included.

Sustainability Policy - Your views needed 

We would like to have your views on the policy in particular relating to the following questions: 

  1. Are there any areas/themes that you feel are not covered by the Policy and should be? Please provide some thoughts on what the theme is and why it should be included? 
  1. Are the aims, objectives and targets challenging enough for the University, if not what should they be and why? 

Please forward comments to sustainability-estates@bristol.ac.uk under the title of Sustainability Policy Review by 17th November. 

Sustainability Delivery Strategies – Your views needed.  

The 15 key sustainability themes each have a delivery strategy and these can be seen below.

A flavour of each is given in a brief overview. Please feel free to provide any comments on these by emailing sustainability-estates@bristol.ac.uk by the  17th November.  


Education for Sustainable Development 

Through Bristol Futures students have a variety of opportunities to learn about sustainability, this can be through the curriculum, via volunteering and extracurricular activities and even from the estate around us.  

The development of a strategy in this area is developing as the Bristol Futures initiative is implemented. If you have any thoughts on this theme please do include them in your consultation return.


Research and knowledge Transfer 

This is new theme added to the sustainability policy this year. Key will be the further development of research on the environment, social justice and development as seen by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Sharing of our research with public and decision makers will be an important part of this work.  

This strategy will be developed over the coming year, but if you have any thoughts on this theme please include this with your consultation return.  


Staff and Student Engagement and Behaviour Change 

Having efficient technical systems is one part of the solution to reducing our sustainability impacts, people are the real key to helping deliver a sustainable university. This strategy sets out to look at how we can build a sustainable university through learning, sharing and collaborating. Behaviour change will be key in this. 

Staff and student engagement & behaviour change strategy 2017 (PDF, 86kB)


Engaging with our communities 

A new addition to the sustainability policy this year. The University does not operate in isolation, we are interdependent with the local, national and international communities. If the University of Bristol is to be a Civic University it needs to build resilient partnerships.  

This strategy will be developed over the coming year, but if you have thoughts on this theme please do include them in your consultation return.  


Space Utilisation 

A new addition to the sustainability policy this year. Efficient use of space  links to our sustainability impact both directly and indirectly. This strategy focuses on ensuring space norms are used in planning and utilising space, more agile working is developed and that less frequently occupied space is brought into more intensive use. 

Space Utilisation Strategy 2017 (PDF, 194kB) 


Sustainable Buildings 

Refurbishments and new build projects offer a great opportunity to improve sustainability for the University, factors such as energy and water use, biodiversity, materials use, health and wellbeing all play a role. Using an assessment method called BREEAM the University aims to improve the sustainability of our building projects including the new Library and Temple Quarter.  

Sustainable construction plan strategy 2017 (PDF, 422kB)


The Living Estates, Biodiversity & the Natural Environment 

The University has a diverse and significantly sized living estate within the city. This strategy aims to support existing habitats, improve habitats and biodiversity, survey and understand our estate, promote and educate relating to our estate.  

Living Estate Strategy 2017-2022 (PDF, 230kB) 


Energy, Carbon and Water Management 

Reducing both carbon emissions and water consumption are key environmental aims. Key aspects of this strategy are to reduce energy and water use by implementing efficiency measures, running behavioural change programmes, provision of low carbon energy from local and regional supplies including renewable energies, ensuring our construction projects are low energy and if necessary looking to off-set our emissions.  

Energy, Carbon and Water Strategy Nov 2017 (PDF, 562kB) 


Sustainable Travel 

This strategy aims to encourage alternatives to single person occupancy car journeys, promoting walking, cycling, public transport and car sharing. The strategy also looks at air travel, our fleet vehicles and deliveries to the University.  

Sustainable travel policy (PDF, 247kB)


Emissions and Discharges/EMS(Environmental Management System)* 

Preventing pollution and putting in place systems to manage our environmental impacts is key to any sustainability policy, this focuses on maintaining our Environmental Management System (EMS), ensuring we understand our legislative compliance requirements and have in place controls to ensure compliance. 

Emissions Discharges and EMS Strategy (PDF, 90kB) 

*An Environmental Management System is a procedure to ensure we identify all our key sustainability impacts for all activities we undertake, as well as helping deliver compliance in a methodical way. The University uses ISO14001 the international standard, which is externally verified each year. 


Circular Economy 

Taking the University beyond waste management this is a new area for the Sustainability policy. Looking at all our material goods this strategy aims to extend the life of materials, use designs that aim for longevity, use whole life costing and life cycle analysis, promote reuse, work in collaboration with our supply chain, use digital innovation and where waste arises recycle.  

Circular Economy Strategy (PDF, 123kB)


Sustainable Procurement 

A soon to be approved University strategy on procurement includes a range of Sustainability actions aimed at the goods and services we buy. Actions include, using environmental and ethical criteria in the selection process for goods and services, promote diversity and inclusivity in the supply chain, work closely to widen the local supply chain and promote sustainability awareness around procurement to staff and students.  

This strategy is not yet available, but if you have any thoughts on this theme, please include them  within you consultation return. 


Responsible Investment 

New to the sustainability policy this year. This already approved strategy focuses on the endowments we have and how they are invested. The policy aims to reduce investments in areas such as tobacco, pornography, landmines, gambling and fossil fuels. Where we invest financially in infrastructure and systems these should be delivered using Whole Life Costing principles. 

Responsible Investment (PDF, 254kB)


Ethical and Sustainable Food 

This already approved strategy includes actions to buy and promote fair trade products, local and seasonal produce, MSC fish and high wealth meat, good egg award status and organic milk, less meat diets, sustainable restaurant awards and tap water refill use. A separate food waste policy is also being implemented.  

Ethics and Sustainability Food Policy (PDF, 324kB)

Thank you for your feedback – Martin Wiles – Head of Sustainability 

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