University of Bristol

The University of Bristol has in the region of 16,000 students and over 5,000 staff with a strong research focus ranging from service intensive users like engineering, medicine, physics and chemistry through to arts, social sciences and law. It has a main city centre site, with other suburb and rurally based departments, exhibiting a wide range of building styles and ages. You name it Bristol has it!

The University of Bristol has been active in environmental management for over 20 years and currently has a team of eleven staff managing the full range of environmental activities from waste and energy management to transport and sustainable construction with an environmental budget (energy, waste etc.) of over £8million a year. Increasingly the team are becoming involved in wider city and regional initiatives like the Bristol Green Capital project reflecting a shift towards corporate social responsibility. Below is a flavour of what we do and have achieved.


  • The University is reviewing its current environmental policy (signed off in 2003) (viewed at as most of its targets and objectives have been achieved (a head of its completion date of 2010).

  • The new policy, strategies and implementation plans should be complete by the summer 2008.


  • CO2 emissions from buildings fell from 130kg/m2 to 100kg/m2 from 00/01 to 06/07, a 24% reduction exceeding the policy target of 20%.

  • Over the last three years £760k has been invested in energy saving initiatives including; insulation, lighting and heating controls and upgrades, BEMS modifications, variable speed drives and heat recovery. All netting an annual saving of £430K. A further £4million has been spent on 2MW of combined heat and power (CHP), saving an estimated £450K a year.

  • We have been early adopters of new energy efficiency technologies such as liquid pressure amplification, which has resulted in 15% electricity saving in one building.

  • Systematic work in key process areas such as air conditioning and heating has help develop policies and guidance to save energy.

Sustainable Construction

  • The University now builds sustainably measuring this via BREEAM. New builds have to achieve Excellent, refurbishments Very Good. The first building to be designed through this process, a mixed teaching and office building has achieved the excellent rating and includes heat recovery, a green roof and natural ventilation.

  • Being a research intensive University many activities are high energy users and the design of these aims to exploit all energy saving options is very important, for example a new High Performance Computing Facility uses “free cooling” during the winter and over night in the summer.


  • The use of urinal controls and the replacement of direct-to-drain cooling of scientific equipment with electrical cooling, as well as leak detection and management campaigns have helped achieve a 35% reduction in water use (against the policy target of 20%).


  • The amount of waste going to landfill has been reduced by 59% (against a target of 60%) over the last ten years, despite a diverse and often exotic waste-stream, including many varieties of hazardous waste and 13 recycling streams. This has been achieved through in-house recycling schemes assisted by cleaners and porters, hall mini recycling centres and awareness campaigns all based on prioritisation by mass and legislative drivers.


  • An award winning Travel Plan, delivering a decrease of the number of people arriving as car drivers at the University from 63% in 1998 to 52% in 2005. Numbers of pedestrians grew from 29% to 42% and cyclists from 13% to 19% over the same period. Staff are now using many different modes of transport across the week. The travel plan includes a free bus, in-house car share software, new cycle facilities and individual travel planning.

Sustainable Procurement

  • The University has been part of the EAUC Sustainable Procurement project and has developed a draft strategy and implementation plan.


  • A draft Biodiversity strategy has been produced by the head of Grounds and Gardens drawing together his work from the last five years and incorporating the work on BREEAM going forward.


  • The University has an annually updated Legislation register which generates on-going actions for the University to address to ensure compliance.


  • Strong links with the University’s academic and student community through an environmental implementation group at which academics, students and estates office staff work together to drive policy and overcome barriers to implementation, and also an environmental forum, a virtual community who act as representatives for environmental matters within their departments and who receive regular updates.

  • Awareness raising activities include environment weeks, targeted stakeholder briefings and training, new staff inductions, stands at freshers fayre, poster and leaflet campaigns.


  • A cross faculty open unit has been running for three years on sustainable development open to all undergraduate students.

  • Many departments do include sustainable development within their undergraduate courses including Law, Engineering and Social Science, as well as the more obvious subjects like Bioscience and Geography.

  • Much research activity is focused on Sustainable Development, including research on ice cores looking at carbon dioxide levels and energy systems in engineering.

Benchmarking and Standards

  • The University is a pilot partner in the EcoCampus Environmental Management System project and has achieved Bronze standard. The aim is to complete EcoCampus by the end of 2008.

  • The University is also keen to benchmark itself against other FHE institutions as well as wider business and community organizations. To that end the University has taken part in the BiTC index on Corporate Social Responsibility and on the Environment over the last two years.


  • Winner of the Times Higher outstanding contribution to sustainable development 2007.

  • Highly commended National Energy Efficiency Awards 2007.

  • Winner of the Curriculum Green Gown 2007, highly commended energy efficiency Green Gown 2007.

Main Contact: Martin Wiles, Head of Sustainability
Main Contact Email & Telephone: and 0117 9288034
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