Experts from more than 30 countries gathered at University College Cork this week to discuss the challenges and opportunities in creating sustainable universities.
UCC hosted the International Workshop on UI GreenMetric World University Rankings, now in its fifth edition, from April 14 to 16.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Dr Michael John O'Mahony, director of An Taisce's environmental education unit, delivered the keynote speeches.
The only university in Ireland to make the top 10 in the UI GreenMetric World University 2018 ranking of the ‘greenest’ universities in the world, UCC also holds a gold star rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
The conference sessions featured presentations from many of the world’s top-ranked universities for sustainability, including Wageningen University, the University of Groningen, and the University of Nottingham.
“We are excited to welcome this conference to UCC in April and look forward to working with colleagues globally to explore how higher education can contribute to delivering the sustainable development goals,” said Maria Kirrane, UCC’s Sustainability Officer.
The event featured a meeting of the international Green Metric Steering Committee, comprised of national coordinators from the 30 member countries.
The committee works to ensure that the ranking remains robust and that the network has a positive impact on higher education and sustainability.
Campus tours gave delegates the chance to see some of the University’s sustainability initiatives in action, including the new single-use plastic-free café and the green wall in the Boole Library, many of which are a direct outcome of the UCC Green Campus Committee, a student-led group driving sustainability across the university.
Professor John O’ Halloran, UCC’s Deputy President and Registrar, said the University’s “student-led, research-informed, and practice-focused approach is driving change across the whole university; this is exemplified in the University’s recently launched Academic Strategy which highlights sustainability as a core value.” The event will conclude with a showcase of community and university sustainability initiatives and research programmes, with the opportunity for local researchers and sustainability professionals from across the globe to network.
The University of Indonesia, which developed and operates the UI Green Metric ranking process, is the co-organiser of the event.
“Great strides have been made in energy efficiency across campus over the last decade, with the University achieving its 2020 target two years ahead of schedule,” said Mark Poland, Director of Buildings and Estates, UCC.