Green Campus is an initiative which aims to “enhance sustainability” in third level education institutions in Ireland. Run by An Taisce, a largely government-funded NGO equivalent to the UK’s National Trust, the program is an extension of the Green Schools environmental education program, in turn an offshoot of the global Eco-Schools program run by the Foundation for Environmental Education (http://www.fee.global/).
Like schools, third level institutions can now apply for Green Campus accreditation marked by a “Green Flag”. To achieve accreditation, institutions must complete a seven-step process, which includes setting up a Green Campus committee and integrating sustainability into courses and modules. Green Flag institutions in Ireland included Dublin City University (http://www.dcu.ie/ocoo/sustainability/sustainable-campus.shtml), University of Limerick (http://ulgreencampus.com/) and Cork University Hospital.
Yesterday Green Campus held its annual network meeting in Dublin, where particpants from third level institutions around Ireland gathered to hear seminars on existing projects and participate in workshops to discuss new ideas for sustainability initiatives on campuses.
Speakers presented on topics as diverse as energy management, biodiversity, green healthcare and sustainable marine management. Particularly interesting from a business perspective was the presentation by Edward Murphy, Sustainable Environment Officer at Cork University Hospital, who provided a fascinating insight into the process of applying sustainability at an organisational level. He stressed the importance of top management engagement, observing that “we need to be able to influence the people who make the decisions and the people who hold the purse strings”. Some of the initiatives at CUH that help to keep the organisation focused on sustainability are “green advocates” in each department, benchmarks, rewards and frequently introducing new ideas. More information on sustainability in healthcare is available at greenhealthcare.ie and hse.ie/sustainability.
Later in the morning, Dr Yvonne Ryan and Prof. Richard Moles of the Centre for Environmental Research in the University of Limerick (http://www3.ul.ie/~cer/) outlined their plans for a comprehensive two-year study on “the role of a sustainable third level campus in communities”, which has received funding from the Environmental Protection Agency. Prof. Moles outlined their ambition to make UL an exporter of energy and an organic farm, and highlighted the opportunity to bring about “significant behaviour change” in students. Dr Ryan then outlined some of the common challenges of applying sustainability to universities, such as an “action/awareness gap”, technological solutions, systemic integration and the diversity of actors required.
Further information on Green Campus is available below, with a report on and videos from the network meeting to be posted shortly: