NUI Galway earns Gold rating for sustainability

Natural grasses and wildflowers outside the Alice Perry Building at NUI Galway. Credit: Chaosheng Zhao.
Nov 08 2021 Posted: 15:26 GMT

NUI Galway earns Gold rating for sustainability

 STARS programme recognises achievements and improvements since 2018

 University rated among global top tier of higher education institutions

NUI Galway has joined an elite group of universities around the world by being recognised with a STARS Gold rating for sustainability achievements.

The standard of excellence was earned following a review by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) under its Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS).

NUI Galway is one of just 133 universities worldwide to earn the STARS Gold rating for sustainability.

The achievement comes on the back of several years hard work, from the establishment of the Community and University Sustainability Partnership (CUSP) in 2015 under the direction of the Deputy President and Registrar Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, to the appointment of the University’s inaugural Sustainability Officer in 2019, Michelle O’Dowd Lohan, to the roll-out of a wide ranging sustainability strategic framework, led by the CUSP chair Professor Jamie Goggins, to the student voice and to the inclusion of sustainability as a core value in the University strategy 2020-2025, Shared Visions, Shaped by Value. 

President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “Sustainability is one of our core values at NUI Galway and we should look upon the Gold rating for our work in this area as testament to our endeavours in that regard. I often speak about our University being here for the public good - as the world meets in Glasgow, recognition of this nature, putting us at NUI Galway on a par with some of the most high-profile institutions in the world for our work which is so critical for the future of our planet, now … not tomorrow, now.”

Róisín Nic Lochlainn, NUI Galway Students’ Union President, said: “Students have a long history of tackling major issues facing our society, and sustainability is something that they are hungry to pursue. I am delighted with the contribution students have made to the STARS Gold rating and I look forward to continuing our work on developing our long terms sustainability goals.” 

Professor Jamie Goggins, chair of NUI Galway’s Community University Sustainability Partnership (CUSP) board, said: “The STARS Gold rating is tremendous. It is to be celebrated and it should also be used to spur us on to the next challenge and for all of us at NUI Galway to push ourselves to deepen our focus on sustainability and ensure efforts are redoubled for the young people of today and the next generation.”

Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, NUI Galway Deputy President and Registrar and Chair of the University Sustainability Advisory Board, said: “The STARS Gold rating is an outstanding success. Huge credit should go to all those who put the issue of sustainability on the agenda in our University, to those who developed the strategy to embed it in our work and practice and to those who pursue the right decisions to make it a living value of NUI Galway.”

More than 1,000 institutions have registered to use the STARS Reporting Tool, of which 678 have earned a STARS rating and 133 currently hold a Gold rating.

STARS assesses environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainability across five areas: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.

NUI Galway was recognised for initiatives including academic staff embracing sustainability as part of curriculum, research addressing sustainability challenges and using the campus as a living lab for applied student learning for sustainability.

The University was also recognised for its Green Campus Ireland award; leadership in the area of sustainable energy and renewable energy technologies; protecting and enhancing biodiversity sites on campus; receiving the first Green Lab Certification in Europe; community partnership; and strong governance and whole of institution framework for progressing sustainability on the campus and beyond.


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