Green Success

Green Success

Green Success

University College Cork has recieved a number of awards for their 'Green Campus' initiatives. These range from awards for energy conservation and travel planning to the Green Flag award which recognises the totality of UCC's efforts to promote the green agenda.

These awards recognise some of the fantastic achievements derived from the Green Campus initiative, including:

  • An increase in the campus recycling rate from 21% in 2007 to 80% in 2015.
  • A 9% decrease in total energy consumption across the campus.
  • A doubling of the number of staff choosing to cycle to work- from 6% in 2007 to 12% in 2012.
  • A saving of €1,000,000 on waste costs over the last 6 years.
  • A saving of over 750,000 cubic metres of water saved since 2007.


University College Cork’s Green Campus programme was awarded the 2013 CEF Environmental Award (category Public Sector) by Cork Environmental Forum at an awards ceremony at Firkin Crane Cork on 5th December 2013.

This award is one of a number received by UCC for its leadership in environmental sustainability.  ‘We are very proud to receive this award tonight in recognition of the student led, research informed and practice focussed  green initiatives at UCC’ according to Professor John O’Halloran, Chair of the UCC Green Forum.  ‘While receiving international recognition as the world’s first green flag campus’ local recognition is often the hardest and perhaps the sweetest to get and  are very proud of what our students, staff and stakeholders have achieved in sustainability’ according to Professor O’Halloran.

University College Cork had been awarded the internationally recognised Green Flag by An Taisce and the FEE in 2010 as first third level institution world wide. In its first full scale re-assessment in April this year, UCC’s status as Green Flag University has been confirmed and renewed.

The Green Flag status is the centre piece in UCC’s overall Green Campus strategy to have the University run in the most sustainable way possible.  Green Sustainability is part of the University’s strategic plan. In the Green Campus Committee and Green Campus Forum, students and staff (both faculty and admin) come together to discuss and initiate the most various initiatives and projects. This covers information, awareness raising, teaching and concrete measures in the operation of campus in the fields of Energy, Waste / Recycling, Water, Travel / Commuting and Biodiversity. Hence, the Green agenda extends to teaching and learning, research and operations.

Mark Poland, Director of Buildings and Estates, at UCC said ‘we continue to actively promote a range of sustainable practices and we are one of the recent highlights relates to travel for our students’ staff and commuting through the UCC Commuter Plan’. The share of cycling among staff has doubled within 5 years to 12%. And UCC was the first Irish university to introduce a free Campus bike sharing scheme.

With its College community of c. 20,000 staff and students, UCC is an important part of Cork, the city and county’s society and population. The next generation of high profile work force and decision makers in Ireland gets informed and educated in environmental citizenship and is being shown every day life examples of green operations in their University, leading by example. In this sense, the Green spirit in UCC continuously makes its way from gown to town, for the benefit of environmental awareness in UCC, CorkCity and County.

IBEC Award

IBEC, the group that represents Irish business has announced the winners of the IBEC Environment Awards, which recognizes European companies that combine innovation, economic viability and environmental concerns. Astellas Ireland, a pharmaceutical plant based in Killorglin, Co. Kerry won the overall environmental excellence award as well as the environmental management award, UCC were Runner up in this Award.

Announcing the winners, at the event Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said: “It is important that the environment is a key consideration for all businesses today. Not only for businesses to minimise their impact on the environment, but also to embrace new opportunities arising in context of the Green Economy. The Ibec Environment Awards are about acknowledging and championing progressive organizations in Ireland, that have demonstrated a commitment to protecting and improving our environment. I’d like to acknowledge the efforts of all of the participants and thank them for their individual contributions towards a healthy and sustainable environment.”

IBEC CEO Danny McCoy said: "These awards provide an opportunity to showcase the best of Irish innovation in environmental management and practice. The record number and the quality of Irish entries this year reflects the increasing importance of environmental issues for businesses of all types and sizes."

SEAI Award

UCC/Tyndall were selected as a Finalist in the Sustainable Energy Awards 2013.

To celebrate 10 years of the Awards, 10 organisations had been selected as finalists in the Legacy Category and UCC/Tyndall were selected.

Dr. Brian Motherway, CEO of SEAI awarded UCC/Tyndall with an outstanding achiever - legacy award at a reception in Dublin recently.

University College Cork has been ranked fourth in the world in a list of the world's most sustainable universities, achieving the highest result in Ireland. 

Universitas Indonesia (UI) released its UI GreenMetric Rankings of World Universities 2015, having measured the commitment made by over 400 universities across the globe in developing an ‘environmentally-friendly’ infrastructure.

UCC ranked higher than other universities in Ireland, including DCU (58th), the University of Limerick (16th), UCD (111th) and NUI Maynooth (93rd).

“We are pleased to retain such a high ranking in these metrics. We have been in the top four since 2011 despite increasing competition each year. Our Green Campus Forum continues to work on all aspects of Sustainability under our ‘Student-led, Research informed and Practice-focused’ principles,” commented Mark Poland, Director of Buildings and Estates.

“We are constantly striving to reduce our environmental impact through reduced energy use, waste management and sustainable commuting. The engagement of all members of the University community including students, staff, suppliers and our subsidiary companies is important.  The Mardyke Arena recently achieved energy, environmental and safety ISO accreditation and we are working closely with Kylemore on local vegetable production for our restaurants.”

Poland added: “We are well on our way to achieving our energy targets of a 33% reduction by 2020.  We hope to accelerate our programme of energy improvement projects through our new overall capital programme.”

University of Nottingham was named the world’s best green campus, followed by the University of Connecticut and the University of California, Davis in third place.

UCC remains fully committed to being a world leader in the green sustainability area, according to Professor John O’Halloran, Vice President for Teaching and Learning and Co-Chair of the University Green Forum. 

“Last week we launched a United Nations GEMS Water Centre to support sustainable water in Africa and across the globe and today we launched a new campus-wide module on sustainability, which is available to all students, staff and members of the public,” O’Halloran said.

“We have further ambitious plans including the launch our new Sustainability Strategy and our second carbon calculation report will be launched in the next few weeks. We will continue to stretch our ambitions and actions to enable our students and staff to act locally and impact globally through our education, research and practice,” he added.

Based on research and surveys conducted by the UI GreenMetric team, led by Professor Riri Fitri Sari, 407 universities from 65 countries participated and use the performance indicators as their measurement tools of achievement in providing a condusive learning environment.  

The measurement is related to the environmental setting, energy and climate change, waste, water, transportation, and education. This year, UI has added a Carbon Footprint evaluation, to encourage universities to look into this issue.

The ranking has five indicators: Setting & Infrastucture (15%), Energy and Climate Change (21%), Waste Management (18%), Water Management (10%), eco-friendly transportation facility (18%) and Education (18%).

University College Cork was the winner of the Green Travel Initiatives Award 2012.
Awarding the prize, the judges noted: "UCC has done a great deal to encourage people to travel to work more sustainably. What really stood out was its Cycle
to Work scheme. The provision of a fleet of bikes, great changing facilities and new secure cycle parks means the number of people that  travel to campus on two wheels has more than doubled in recent years."
The Green Awards aim to celebrate excellence in sustainability and to encourage green best practive amongst Ireland's organisations and individuals.

+ More details on UCC's Commuting, Access and Parking

Minister Pat Rabbitte presented the ISO 50001 certificate to UCC at a joint presentation with the Irish Naval Service (INS) on a visit to the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) on 20th February 2012.University College Cork(UCC) in Ireland has become the first third level institution worldwide to achieve the ISO 50001 standard. The Irish University was the first of its kind to implement this internationally recognised standard since it was launched just over four months ago. UCC is also the first public sector body inIrelandto be certified to ISO 50001.   

UCC is committed to continuous energy performance improvement to enhance the environment of the university community in which they work, teach and carry out research. UCC is home to a number of leading research institutes (Environmental Research Institute, HMRC, Tyndall , etc).

 The University is committed to responsible energy management as part of their overall environmental strategy.   UCC has a long track record in energy management and has been particularly successful in winning grant support from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) to support energy saving initiatives.  UCC currently has projects involving lighting, metering, heat recovery, ventilation, photovoltaics  and wind energy etc. under way across the campus.

UCC recognise that their activities impact upon the environment through their education, research,  infrastructural development and their influence on the wider community of which they are a part. The University is particularly mindful of their environmental responsibilities in local, national and global terms. 

The decision to seek ISO accreditation was made to enhance the University’s existing reputation over many years in energy management  by embracing an internationally recognised system.  This reinforces the overall sustainability drive in the University which was awarded the world’s first Green Campus Flag fore third level institutions by An Taisce and the FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education) in 2010.

Director of Buildings and Estates Mark Poland said “we are delighted to have reached this milestone and congratulated Paul Prendergast, Maurice Ahern and their teams for all the preparatory work”. 

The energy management consultant behind UCC’s successful certification to ISO 50001 was Liam McLaughlin of eNMS. Liam used Enerit software to allow rapid implementation of ISO 50001 (Enerit Software Snapshot (162kB))

Buildings Officer Paul Prendergast said “we have a varied building stock which will require significant upgrading in future years to meet our national targets under the NEEAP legislation and ISO 50001 will greatly assist in this effort”.

UCC chose Enerit ISO 50001 software to implement its energy management program, and was certified to the standard within five months, a great achievement.  The Enerit software covers all aspects of the ISO 50001 standard including: significant energy users, energy saving opportunities, energy actions and planning, corrective actions and audit management.

The software significantly improves and simplifies the everyday management of a system which operates in a very busy environment. 

It  leads to the automation and implementation of the ISO 50001 standard, and goes beyond completing the standard to allow users to save energy on an on-going basis.

Maurice Ahern energy manager for UCC said he used Enerit ISO 50001 software because “its integration into our existing energy management activities was very straightforward. We now have a very clear and systematic view of our energy management activities and the progress we are making”.

What is ISO 50001? 

ISO 50001 is an International Standard that enables organisations to establish the systems and processes necessary to improve energy performance, including energy efficiency, use, and consumption.

Implementation of this standard is intended to lead to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, energy cost, and other related environmental impacts, through systematic management of energy. 

The ISO 50001 standard became internationally recognised in June 2011 and promises to reach over 500,000 organisations worldwide

Green Flag 2013UCC has reaffirmed its standing as the world’s first Green Flag campus, a world first in itself for the prestigious international award programme.

UCC was the first university in the world to be awarded the status of a Green Campus by the Foundation of Environmental Education and An Taisce in 2010. The status renewal was made by Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan, T.D., on behalf of An Taisce.

The news comes following a rigorous re-evaluation by an expert panel of UCC’s performance in this area. An Taisce once again granted the international accreditation following a detailed review of a portfolio of achievements, validated by a formal site visit.

A number of student-led environmental initiatives in 2007 proved to be the catalyst that led to UCC’s first Green Flag award, in conjunction with an extensive environmental review by the Buildings & Estates Department at UCC and academic staff.

The Green-Campus programme has seen UCC take significant strides forward in its sustainability. Recycling rates have increased from 21% in 2007 to 75% in 2012, with a plan in place for this figure to exceed 90% in the coming years. The total campus energy consumption, which relies exclusively on green provision, has been reduced by 9%. The number of UCC staff members cycling to work has doubled from 6% in 2007 to 12% in 2012. The campus landscape, external spaces and public walkways have seen marked upgrades. Some of the most significant outcomes include a cumulative saving on waste of nearly €1,000,000 in the last 6 years, as well as over 750,000 M3 of water have been saved since 2007.

Accepting the award on behalf of the University, President of UCC, Dr Michael Murphy commented: “It is a source of immense pride to the University, its staff and its students for UCC to become the first third level institution in the world to reaffirm this important recognition. It is wonderful to see our students take such innovative and creative steps towards ensuring UCC remains a leader when it comes to sustainability and a marvellous example of good citizenship by all involved”.

Minister Hogan commented:“UCC has shown great leadership in achieving the world’s first Green Flag and this achievement is no doubt an exemplar for the wider community. Indeed your actions can have an immediate and direct impact beyond the campus grounds, for example through sustainable transport measures. And most importantly your institution is a place of learning, so by increasing environmental awareness among your student population you have the potential to influence society generally, helping to ensure that environmental issues remain to the fore in our priorities”.

Dr. Michael John O' Mahony of the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce said: "We are delighted that UCC have renewed their Green-Flag and have continued to develop and adopt the Green Campus Programme over the last three years. During this time it is evident that not only have they continued to reduce their environmental impact in areas such as waste, energy, water, travel and biodiversity but they have greatly increased the scope and impact of the programme in areas such as student and staff involvement, procurement and college wide teaching. This is most clearly displayed in the abilities and competencies of the students involved in the programme. These students are the most important outcome of the programme".

Student buy-in from the outset has been pivotal to the success of UCC’s Green Campus programme, with both the Students' Union (SU) and UCC Environmental Society taking a leading role. Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Sam Ryan, UCC SU Deputy President said: "This is a great day for the University. It represents the culmination of years of hard work by students and staff on campus. The idea of UCC's Green Campus project is that it encapsulates all aspects of the University, it's led by the students, informed by research and is practice focused”.

Mark Poland, UCC’s Director of Building and Estates, added: "Maintaining Green Campus status is an endeavour we take very seriously through continually trying to improve our environmental performance in waste management, commuting and energy. The renewed status not only recognises the on-going commitment of students and staff towards ensuring the practice of running a modern campus meets stringent environmental standards, but it also rewards them on a global scale”.

The development continues to build on the momentum generated by further international recognition recently. UCC is now ranked 3rd in the world from a field of 215 competing universities in the Universitas Indonesia Greenmetric World University Ranking system, due to its exceptional work in the area of environment-friendly university management. It is ranked second in the world in the category of urban campus. 

Professor John O'Halloran, Head of the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, who has been involved heavily with the project stated: "Today's decision is reflective of UCC’s mission to remain a truly green campus with the interaction of academic, support staff and the student community creating an exceptional combination of ideas and initiatives."

Western GatewayUCC's Western Gateway Building was selected as the winning entry under the Renewable Energy Systems category at the annual Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) Energy Awards in Dublin in November 2011.

The heat pump solution in University College Cork’s (UCC) Western Gateway Building (WGB) was the central component of this project. WGB is the largest building on the UCC Complex providing research and teaching accommodation for a range of academic departments such as Computer Science, Biochemistry, Mathematics, Pharmacology, Physiology, ICT and Cancer Research.

This renewable energy project is centred on a 1 MW Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) which provides heating & cooling for the building. Ground Water which has been heated by solar energy is the main heat source with heat rejected from a server room as a secondary source.

A number of studies were completed to determine the suitability of various technology options and arising from one of those studies, the opportunity to recycle heat from the server room for space heating was considered.  

This innovative system solution allows heat recovery from the building servers (300 kW) through the heat pump to provide for space and water heating displacing heat normally generated from the sites’ gas boilers. It also allows the use of ground water as heat source or heat rejection outlet (for mechanical cooling), or can allow efficient free cooling directly through the groundwater system.

The use of a ground water source heat pump driven heating and cooling plant will provide environmental benefits in the reduction of up to 56% of CO2 emissions (409 tonnes per annum) compared to conventional systems (gas boilers & air cooled chillers) and energy savings of 4.5 GWh have been achieved to date.

Judges Description

Excellent design, utilising waste heat from computer room combined together  with a ground source heat pump to provide a combination of heating and cooling to the UCC Western Gateway building. This strategy, combined with an modern controls package, utilises the most efficient combination based on demand and supply. It has achieved energy savings of 30% when compared to other buildings on the campus.

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