The University endorses the World Commission on Environment and Development’s definition of Sustainable Development:
Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
In doing so we will strive to reconcile the tensions which exist between the three pillars of sustainability – economic prosperity; environmental quality; social equity – both now and for the generations who will engage with the University in the future.
The Sustainability Policies Document was created to bring together all the key areas into one document. The individual policy objectives are mentioned below. All the policies below were annually reviewed by the Sustainable Aston Working Group (SAWG) unless separately stated within each policy. Its content has been signed off by the University’s Vice Chancellor.
The Energy, Environment and Sustainability Team have set out annual objectives and targets in order to achieve the University's sustainability commitment; these are outlined in the following document:
Objectives and Targets August 2016 - July 2017
Click here for a PDF version of the latest Energy and Sustainability Report
Aston University is proud of our green campus and our Sustainability Policy states that we will “develop and maintain the estate and associated landscape with due regard to environmental impact and social value”.
Our Biodiversity Policy builds on this statement; highlighting our commitment to limit the University’s negative impacts on biodiversity on campus and in the locality, to preserve, and where possible, enhance the biodiversity (habitats and species) of the University campus.
The University will achieve this by upholding the following objectives:
The policy will be implemented, monitored and reviewed by the Aston Campus Wildlife Group and the Sustainable Aston Working Group (reporting to the University Executive). The policy will be supported by Aston’s 5-year Biodiversity Action Plan.
Approved by University Executive, June 2010; reviewed September 2016.
The Biodiversity Policy is supported by the 5 year Biodiversity Action Plan which can be viewed here.
This Energy and Water Management Policy commits Aston University to be responsible in its use of energy and water across all our operations. The policy will not only meet legal requirements, and approved codes of practice, but strive to ensure that Aston is at the leading edge of good practice.
The policy of the University is to control energy and water consumption in order to:
In order to meet the above criteria, we are committed to a number of objectives:
The Energy Policy is supported by our Carbon Management Plan; the Energy, Environment & Sustainability Manager is responsible for day-to-day management and implementation of the energy policy.
Approved by the Vice-Chancellor, reviewed and updated by SAWG June 2016.
Click here for a PDF version of the Space Heating Code of Practice
We are committed to preventing pollution by reducing emissions and discharges by regularly reviewing practice against benchmarks. The following are targets that have been set in order to reduce further toxic emissions to air and water:
This policy will inspire us to meet, support, and influence and raise awareness to reflect latest environmental practice. This will be through the implementation of an environmental management system in pursuit of sustainability and continual improvement. The University will seek innovative ways of meeting environmental objectives. Within the higher education and local community Aston aspires to become an exemplar for others to follow.
Approved by the Vice-Chancellor, reviewed by SAWG September 2016.
Aston University aims to be an inspirational place to live, work and study, promoting justice, integrity and sustainable growth in society. The University welcomes donations from alumni, corporate benefactors and other supporters.
We are committed to ensuring that the University makes all investment decisions responsibly with the primary guiding principle of generating funds, through income and, or capital growth, with which to further the work of the University. In making investment decisions, environmental, social and governance issues will also be considered. To this end the University will:
screen investments on ethical grounds, with the proviso that, if the activities of a company are, on ethical grounds, inconsistent with the objectives of the University, then the University may choose not to invest even though this may reduce returns; not engage in any investment which might hamper the work of Aston, either by alienating financial supporters or potential financial supporters, or by having a material impact on applications from potential students; not engage in any investment which, while not excluded by virtue of i. or ii. above, is considered by Aston to be unethical; seek investment opportunities with companies who have demonstrated a positive record of ethical performance; engage with companies in which it considers investing, and where appropriate use its influence to encourage ethical standards, practices and lines of business acceptable to the University; and engage with companies in which it considers investing, and where appropriate use its influence to encourage ethical standards, practices and lines of business acceptable to the University; and monitor the University’s investments to ensure that ethical standards are maintained.
seek investment opportunities with companies who have demonstrated a positive record of ethical performance;
Approved by the Council, 24th June 2009; reviewed September 2016.
Aston University is committed to integrating sustainability into all aspects of catering to students, staff, visitors, conference delegates and leisure guests where practicable. We recognise our responsibility to carry out our procurement activities in an environmentally and socially responsible manner, and to incorporate environmental and social considerations into our service and procurement selection processes. We also aspire to improve the health of our catering customers by increasing choice and access to fresh healthy food, as well as providing relevant information to enable customers to make informed choices. We will support agricultural practices that are environmentally friendly, economically viable and socially responsible by the way we purchase consumables and will incorporate energy reducing methods and practices in all aspects of food production. University Catering has made a commitment to buy only free range eggs.
The University undertakes to provide food and drink that:
is safe and contributes to a healthy diet
is seasonal and sourced locally within the West Midlands region wherever possible
supports a thriving and competitive food industry
promote the highest standards of animal health and welfare
deliver improving environmental impact throughout the lifecycle of the product or service
The Sustainable Food Policy will be supported by related policies that reflect specific sustainability issues, in particular the Sustainable Procurement Policy and by the development of a Sustainable Food Action Plan.
The policy will be implemented by the operational teams responsible for delivering catering services and monitored and reviewed by the Sustainable Aston Working Group (reporting to the University Executive), the Sustainable Procurement Working Group, and the Aston Fair Trade Steering Group.
Last reviewed 8th September 2016, by Sustainable Aston Working Group.
Aston University’s Sustainability Policy states that we will “implement ethically and environmentally responsible procurement”.
The Sustainable Procurement policy supports this statement and provides guidelines and objectives for achieving a sustainable procurement procedure that is embedded in Aston’s culture. It is recognised that our purchasing decisions have a large impact outside of the University and this policy aims to minimise any negative environmental and social impacts; to this end we will:
The policy will be implemented, monitored and reviewed by the Sustainable Procurement Working Group, the Aston Fairtrade Steering Group and the Sustainable Aston Working Group (reporting to the University Executive).
Approved by University Executive, October 2010; reviewed October 2016
Aston University is proud of our green campus and our Environmental Policy states that we will strive “To prevent all kinds of pollution through reduced waste, reduced emissions and responsible disposal”.
Our Waste Management Policy builds on this objective; setting ambitious targets to achieve a 7% reduction in overall waste production by 2020 on a baseline of 2012/13 and achieve a 5% increase in recycling rates by 2020/21 using 2015/16 as a baseline.
The University will achieve this by:
Reviewing our purchasing practices with a view to minimising waste;
Advising staff on the waste hierarchy (reduce, reuse, recycle) and providing guidance on waste reduction techniques and reuse/recycling facilities;
Providing adequate recycling facilities around campus;
Ensuring that waste is stored appropriately, safely and in line with legislation;
Ensuring that waste is disposed of responsibly and in line with legislation;
Providing waste management training where necessary;
Monitoring and reviewing waste streams, practices and reduction targets regularly;
Requesting waste minimisation and recycling information in line with targets in future waste management contracts;
Working with contractors and partners to ensure this policy is implemented across campus.
The policy will be implemented, monitored and reviewed by the Environment and Sustainability Team, together with the Sustainable Aston Working Group (reporting to the University Executive) and the Sustainable Procurement Working Group.
Approved by University Executive, June 2010; reviewed and updated September 2016.
Sustainability and social responsibility are issues our staff, students and stakeholders feel passionately about, and are central to how we work at Aston, and how we relate to the world around us. Sustainability and social responsibility are based on ethical values and underpinned by the idea of economic, social and environmental obligations to our range of stakeholders. The importance of this is outlined as on of our strategic aims in Aston 2020:
Learning and Teaching Strategy
Education for Social Responsibility and Sustainability is an explicit element in Aston University's Learning and Teaching Strategy, which is linked to the overall Aston 2020 Strategy. Sustainability will be identified and highlighted in existing modules and wherever possible be addressed both explicitly and implicitly in new ones.
The inclusion of Education for Social Responsibility and Sustainability in the student experience is outlined in section 7 of theLearning and Teaching Strategy.
Also outlined in our Aston 2020 strategy is that the University adheres to the UN's Principles of Responsible Mamnagement Education (PRME):
Aston Business School was one of the first UK Business Schools to sign up to the UN’s “Principles of Responsible Management”. In implementing these principles, Aston is committed to developing SRS literate graduates, engaging in SRS research, engaging with businesses and communities and understands “that our own organisational practices should serve as examples of the values and attitudes we convey to our students”
More information on UN PRME can be found on the Aston Business School pages.
Aston has signed the People&Planet Green Education Declaration (PDF), which recognises the key role of the education sector in addressing the challenge of climate change and making the transition to a low carbon economy and society.
Teaching and learning are crucial to inspire and educate the next generation of decision makers, business leaders and citizens, and equip them with the skills and knowledge to deal with the challenges of climate change. Research and innovation helps us to understand the many facets of climate change and will be central to developing ideas and technologies to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate.
The University’s carbon footprint in 2005/6 for scopes 1 and 2 (covering the direct combustion of fuels on site, fuel use by owned fleet, electricity and heat purchased) was 12,149 tonnes CO2e. The implementation of this plan will support an absolute reduction in this footprint of 53% by 2020/21, compared to the 2005/6 base year.
For scopes 1 and 2, the data shows that the University has reduced its carbon emissions by 30% between 2005/6 and 2014/15, 2.9% behind of where we need to be if we are to meet our 2020/21 target. On this basis an annual reduction of 5.5% needs to be met to hot target.
The targets are challenging, and technical fixes alone will not meet the carbon emission targets. Only by a combination of technical measures, space efficiency and behaviour change will the university be able to meet its carbon reduction targets. Engagement is also important if the University is to achieve its role of successfully educating its students about the importance of these issues.
The projects that have been implemented and put forward to achieve this plan is currently estimated to result in financial savings of approximately £761,500 per year.
This plan aims to decouple our future growth in staff & student numbers and turnover from growth in our carbon emissions.
The delivery of this plan will be led by the Energy, Environment and Sustainability Team and the plan will be under the scrutiny of the Sustainable Aston Working Group. Progress will be reported to the University Council and key performance indicators will be published for carbon reduction.
The Carbon Management Plan was last reviewed May 2016
View the full report
To Support the Carbon Management Plan the University has a Carbon Management Plan data file that highlights past, present and future projects that are linked with Scopes 1, 2 and 3. This is a living document so is updated on a regular basis. This document is reviewed quarterly by the Estates Sustainability Group. This can be down loaded here - and was last updated in May 2016
Aston Student Village (ASV) Emissions
As the University does not own the ASV it does not report on their Sustainability objectives and targets, which includes emissions. However, we still keep a record of their emissions each year. It's baseline emissions were 4,304 tonnes of CO2e in 2005/06. In 2015/16 it was recorded that ASV produced 3,349 tonnes of CO2e.
As part of our commitment to sustainability, the University endeavours to reduce our emissions related to travel, both business travel and commuting.
Centro West Midlands assisted Aston University in conducting a travel survey in November 2015. This was to identify the primary travel methods of staff and students when travelling to campus, as well as incentives that would be most effective in encouraging sustainable travel methods such as cycling, walking and using public transport.
The following Action Plan uses data from the latest travel survey to outline specific actions to reduce travel related carbon emissions.
Sustainable Transport Action Plan: 2015/16 Update
Aston’s Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan has been developed to help the University prepare for the impacts of climate change. The Action Plan focuses on the risks and opportunities within various functions that make up Birmingham including;
By outlining the strategic processes for developing and embedding evidence and taking action, it will improve services, increase resilience and reduce the economic impact. Adapting to climate change now will have a long-term direct economic benefit.