University of Galway hosts national launch of Climate Action Week 2022

Lorraine Rushe, Environmental, Health and Safety Manager in Buildings & Estates, University of Galway; Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, University of Galway President; : Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton T.D.; Denis O’Connor, Director, Buildings & Estates, University of Galway; Deirdre O’Carroll, Programme Manager, An Taisce; and Noel O’Connor, Assistant Director, Buildings & Estates, University of Galway. Credit – Aengus McMahon.
Oct 10 2022 Posted: 13:18 IST

An Taisce awards University Green Campus status for second time 

Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton T.D. today launched Ireland’s Climate Action Week at University of Galway.

The event coincided with the University being awarded Green Campus status for a second time by An Taisce and the raising of the Green Flag at a special ceremony attended by Energy Performance Officers from each of Ireland’s universities, along with representatives from the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications and the Higher Education Authority.

Welcoming guests to the launch of Climate Action Week and the Green Flag ceremony in the Quadrangle, University of Galway President Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said, “At University of Galway we put our values of respect, excellence, openness and sustainability at the core of our teaching, learning and research and also in the operations of our busy campus. It is an important recognition of our determination on issues of sustainability that we partner with An Taisce to host the launch of Climate Action Week. We will continue to push forward to respond to global challenges as part of our central mission to serve the public good.”  

Climate Action Week runs from October 10-16, offers a range of online and in-person events which aim to inform citizens, increase awareness and highlight the need for urgent climate action by all sectors of society.  

University of Galway was awarded the prestigious Green Flag by An Taisce and the International Foundation of Environmental Education for three years for the quality of its campus and the environment and sustainability drive. The Green Flag is a visual sign of the commitment made in reducing the environmental footprint associated with campus operations.

Through learning and research activities, and as a signatory to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Accord, the university is driving the transition towards a more sustainable future.  University of Galway is ranked number one in Ireland and top 50 in the world in the THE Impact rankings which measure achievements based around the UN SDGs.

University of Galway Environmental, Health & Safety Manager in Buildings & Estates, Lorraine Rushe, said: “This Green Flag Award is the result of many years of hard work by staff and students aimed at improving environmental management and creating a more sustainable campus. It recognises the engagement by students and staff and the vast effort and hard work that is ongoing in the areas of energy, waste, water, travel and biodiversity.”

Some of the highlights in the sustainability at the University include: 

  • Ranked #1 University in Ireland for Sustainable Development (Times Higher Education’s Impact Rankings 2022)
  • Successfully accredited to ISO50001:2018 Energy Management System Standard
  • Exceeded the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan target of 33% by 2020 and hit an impressive 51% in 2021
  • Installed Combined Heat & Power units throughout campus
  • Rolled out solar thermal and solar photo voltaic panels 
  • Installed 22 electric vehicle car charging points across the campus
  • Implemented a Campus Pollinator Plan and Biodiversity Action Plan, which involves reducing mowing on grassy areas, planting pollinators, and providing wild pollinator nesting habitat e.g. hedgerows, earth banks and bug hotels
  • Introduced organic waste collection which provide for an optimum composting mixture
  • Installed Rainwater harvesting on campus and participant of Water Stewardship Programme
  • Park & Ride shuttle bus service on campus
  • Coordinated with NTA to install Coke Zero bike sharing stations on campus  
  • First institution in Europe to be awarded Green Lab Certification by My Green Lab

Ms Rushe added: “These achievements would not be possible without the commitment, vision and drive of our campus community. University management, buildings & estates team, academics, administrators, students and staff have all played an important role in driving sustainability. Through the ongoing implementation of Climate Action Plans and collaboration with other universities to deliver on our climate action targets and we will continue work to reduce our impact and lead by example in tackling this global issue.

Cathy Baxter, Director, An Taisce Education Unit, said: “It is evident that the Green Campus programme is supported from the top down and across all sectors of University of Galway. This level of support is critical if the programme is to continue to grow and develop over the next three years. It is fitting that we are launching Climate Action Week in University of Galway today as it reflects the commitment of the university to taking climate action and having a leadership role in this vital area.”


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