SUNDERLAND University has been named the greenest in the UK for its student accommodation.
It beat more than 120 universities and colleges to win the Best Environmental Management Award in the 2012 National Student Housing Survey.
This is the first time Sunderland has taken part in the survey, which this year listened to the views of more than 19,000 students from throughout the UK.
University residential service manager Helen Robson said it not only reflects the pioneering work of the university, but also shows that Wearside students are good environmental citizens.
“We’ve been working very closely with both the Students’ Union and the city to look strategically at the needs of our students’ accommodation in Sunderland,” said Helen.
“We very much regard this as an accolade for the city as well as for our university, as 50 per cent of the students who replied to the survey were living in private housing.
“The university and city have worked closely to recognise the needs of students as a group within the community, collating the views of students which will be used to inform city housing planning.
“Environmentally-friendly accommodation is regarded as hugely important among our students and we have seen this reflected not only in this survey, but also in our students’ behaviour.
“For instance, three years ago, in response to customer demand, we decided to switch to all-inclusive rent, so that students’ heating and electricity was included.
“This has significantly improved our students’ living-in experience, and helps with their budgeting.
“We have monitored and managed energy use over that time and over those three years we have never charged anyone for going over their limit for energy use.
“We manage our environmental issues, from recycling to efficient transport to heating, but it is not driven by us, it is driven by our students.”
Sunderland was one of the first universities in the UK to produce a Corporate Social Responsibility charter.
It was also one of the UK’s first Fairtrade universities and the first in the region to sign up to the Higher Education Carbon Management Programme.
The university has also signed up to the Low Carbon City partnership, has gained the Carbon Trust Standard award and won further awards for its green buildings.
Sunderland recently committed to reduce its carbon emissions by 48 per cent by 2020.
Since 2005 the university has reduced gas and electricity usage by 24.8 per cent – saving in the region of £400,000 per year.
The City of Sunderland Economic Masterplan, published in October 2010, identifies Sunderland as “an entrepreneurial university city at the heart of a low carbon regional economy”.
CITY students are proud of their green credentials.
Zhang Manning, 21 (right), who lives in student halls at The Precinct and studies business management, said: “We recycle paper, bottles and even batteries at home because we can, as my halls have plenty of recycling bins.”
Charlie Martin, 20, who lives at The Forge who studies drama, added: “At home I recycle food, cardboard, tin cans, magazines and paper.
“We even have a box for food, a kind of compost box”
Michael Cook, 16, from Millfield (centre left), who uses the university’s facilities, said: “I’d agree that the halls are green as the rest of the university is quite environmentally friendly.”
Cian O’Sullivan, 23 (bottom left), who works at the university and used to live in student accommodation said: “I think the university is the greenest place in the city, as there are not a lot of places where you can recycle in the city.
“There are paper and can bins, small things which make it easier.”