Lancaster more brown than green

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Photo by Wilson Chen

Lancaster University has been ranked 84th out of 146 UK universities in the People and Planet Green League 2012.

The league assesses Higher Education institutions based on their environmental and ethical performance. The score is based upon each university’s actions and attitudes towards a green living.

Lancaster’s position in the table is worse than their performance in 2011, where the University was placed in 78th position.

Lancaster’s performance did not come as a surprise to Lancaster University Students’ Union (LUSU) Cross Campus Environment Officer, Charlotte Wilkins.

Discussing the results with SCAN, Wilkins stated “There isn’t a strong sustainability ethic at the University, at least among students, and any alterations in practice seem to be driven by obligation rather than any aspirations to actually make tangible reductions to our impact on the planet.”

She went on to add that “Although our total points have increased, an improvement of four extra points isn’t a patch on the improvements other universities have made.”

Wilkins assessment for the future also raised concerns, suggesting that she imagines “we will continue to plod along with slow improvements until power can be acquired by enough students and staff with real enthusiasm for cultivating environmental citizens.”

The University’s Director of Facilities, Mark Swindlehurst, has defended the University’s environmental and ethical performance in a statement released this afternoon. He said “Whilst is is disappointing that we have dropped slightly in the table, despite managing to increase our points total significantly, Lancaster University has improved its environmental performance over the last few years.”

He went to on to speak of the “sustainability with a variety of projects, for example the award winning County and Grizedale Eco-residences, BREEAM outstanding LICA building and the acclaimed EXODUS reuse project,” a scheme ran by Green Lancaster.

Louise Hazan, the Green League Manager from People and Planet, has praised the Higher Education Sector for making “huge, green strides since the publication of the first People and Planet Green League in 2007.”

However, she went on to criticise institutions  for “an increase in carbon emissions since 2005 (which) shows a disconnect between scientific necessity, policy commitments and actual performance at a sectoral level.”

Swindlehurst admitted Lancaster’s water consumption, energy use and waste production “is always going to be higher than many other institutions” as “[we are] a research intensive university with a large on site residential population.”

The statement concluded with a request for everyone to be a part in helping the University “to reduce these environmental impacts as far as possible.”

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