DSC7443Pictured: (left to right) Peter James, Founder and Chair of Green Gown Awards Steering Group and Director of S-Labs: Sara Sands, Vice Principal Finance and Corporate Services at Uxbridge College; Shane Woodhatch, Financial Controller at Uxbridge College; Simon Reeve, writer and broadcaster.

Uxbridge College has scooped the ‘Best Newcomer’ Award in the national Green Gown Awards which recognise exceptional sustainability initiatives by universities, colleges and other tertiary education institutions.

Author and TV presenter Simon Reeve announced this year’s winners at The University of Manchester’s Whitworth Hall. Simon is best known for his unique brand of documentary-making, combining travel and adventure with current affairs, history, wildlife, culture and conservation. He is also an ambassador for the nature conservation organisation WWF, and has been awarded a One World Broadcasting Trust award for an “outstanding contribution to greater world understanding”, and the prestigious 2012 Ness Award by the Royal Geographical Society.

The Green Gown Awards, which are celebrating their 10th anniversary, are run by The Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC).

Uxbridge College was recognised for its work under the E-Collegey initiative, launched in 2012 to boost participation in green activities and encourage awareness of sustainability issues. The initiative has covered a range of activities for staff and students, including a student competition to choose the name and design a logo. Campaigns were run to encourage staff and students to recycle more materials and switch off lights and computers, a photographic competition was held on a green theme, and a fashion show staged using recycled materials. Teaching about sustainable technologies and practices has been included in the curriculum wherever possible, a car-sharing and cycle purchase scheme set up for staff, a bike workshop held, and an ecology area created on campus. The College has also invested in cutting carbon emissions and saving money by maximising the use of sustainable materials, systems and practices in campus building and improvement projects.

Laraine Smith OBE, Principal of Uxbridge College, said: “As we continue to develop our sustainable practices, the Best Newcomer Green Gown Award encourages and inspires us to do more.”

Sara Sands, Vice Principal Finance & Corporate Services, and sustainability lead at Uxbridge College, said: “It is a real honour to have been chosen for the Best Newcomer Award as part of EAUC’s prestigious Green Gown Awards. Uxbridge College is committed to sustainable practices wherever possible, and we look forward to building on the work we have been recognised for through this award.”

Simon Reeve said: “I was delighted and honoured to be asked to get involved with the Green Gown Awards this year. On my journeys I see the increasing impact of humans on the natural world and the issues caused by completely unsustainable lifestyles. So the extraordinary work of brilliant minds at our universities and colleges to help create a more sustainable world is something we should all be celebrating and applauding.”

Iain Patton, Chief Executive of EAUC, said: “The Awards Ceremony was an excellent opportunity to celebrate all of those involved within universities and colleges that are working tirelessly to improve our world. Our host, Simon Reeve, provided a global context to the impact that all of our actions have and illustrated just how important the work happening in universities and colleges is. It was fitting to be hosted by The University of Manchester for our 10th anniversary with such superb sustainable food.”

Other Green Gown winners included: Queen’s University Belfast, Research and Development winner, category supported by AMRA, for their solar disinfection of water initiative improving water quality for over 5.8 million people in more than 30 countries; Hull College, Social Responsibility winner, for a project transforming run-down and derelict properties in East Hull into affordable homes; the University of Exeter, Construction and Refurbishment winner, category supported by Turley
This year the Green Gown Awards recognised 15 winners, 25 highly commended, 62 finalists over 14 categories, representing a student population of 1,076,734.

Guests at the prestigious black tie ceremony included university and college representatives from across the UK, joined by leading figures from institutions such as the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Scottish Funding Council, Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE), Association of Colleges (AoC), Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) to commend visionary projects which are pushing the sustainable good practice boundaries.

EAUC is a not-for-profit charity with a membership of over 220 universities and colleges, supporting sustainability within the UK tertiary education sector.