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An eco-friendly employer

With 25,000 students and 5,500 staff, many engaged in high-technology research and teaching, Cardiff University is continually innovating ways of reducing its own energy consumption and waste generation.


The Vice-chancellor, Dr David Grant launches the Liftshare scheme.

The Vice-chancellor, Dr David Grant launches the Liftshare scheme with (clockwise) Pauline Richards from Information Services, Peter McDonnell from Security, Anthony Cope from Information Services, Katrina Henderson from OSHEU, Rosemary Howes and Dawn O'Leary from Catering, Mike Turner from OSHEU and Becky Williams from Catering.

All University building projects now make sustainability a prime objective. The new £14m Talybont Court hall of residence is built with timber frames from sustainably-managed forests and has individual solar panels providing hot water to flats for 511 students. The University’s new building for the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences is making use of an energy-saving Ground Source Heating System. Pipes 100 metres below the ground will use the earth’s latent heat to warm and cool the new building, offering major savings on gas consumption.

Also launched are two new initiatives to cut down on the number of car journeys around campus and also ease the pressure on the car parks. The on-line Cardiff University Liftshare Scheme allows staff and students to find colleagues living near them who can share the daily drive. The scheme already has more than 100 members. The University will be able to monitor the reduction in car journeys, exhausts emissions and financial savings as a result. The link to the scheme is here.

For those on two wheels, the University has now adopted an official bike strategy. This will look into larger and more visible bike racks, better signing of routes, more drying rooms for wet clothing and a map of bike user’s facilities around campus. The new positiveBenefits scheme, 'positiveCycling', allows members of staff to purchase a bicycle via a salary sacrifice scheme. 

Cardiff University Bicycle User Group

Valerie Greer of Cardiff University Bicycle User Group, with Information Services colleague Paul Rock and Peter Dorrington of the Business School

For the past five years, the catering and bars department in the University’s Residences and Catering Division  with an annual turnover of £3.5m, has been purchasing as much Welsh produce as possible in support of local business and reducing the "food miles" involved in transport. Fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, bread, milk, eggs are all sourced locally, with most recent addition being Joe’s Ice Cream from Swansea. The Division also purchases three brands of mineral water — two from the Brecon Beacons and one from North Wales for official dinners.

Contracts for frozen good and dried goods specify that part must be Welsh produce. The University also has its own dedicated Production Kitchen, creating baguettes and salad/fruit pots filled with local produce, which is now looking to expand the range of products.

Catering and Bars manager Clive Newton heads the Higher Education Purchasing Consortium for Wales catering sub-group which is trying to encourage local producers to supply to all the Welsh universities. One problem is that Welsh produce is high on quality but low on volume. The consortium is urging farmers and other producers to act as co-operatives so they can supply the volumes universities need.

An Office Recycling Scheme has rolled out across the University. Staff have separate bins for such items as paper, glass and plastic which are collected for recycling. The success of the scheme means that more than half the general waste produced by the University is now re-used. Meanwhile, all redundant computer equipment from academic buildings on the Cathays Campus go to the local Computers in the Community scheme, helping the disadvantaged across Cardiff.

Every major University tender now has specifications for sustainability which contractors are required to meet during the procurement process. Appraisal forms for suppliers have a dedicated section which asks more than 20 questions about their environmental record. Other environmentally-friendly drives include the installation of presence detectors, which can control lighting in empty rooms and buildings

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Grant, said: "As one of the largest employers in Cardiff and a major purchaser of goods and services, the University is highly conscious of its duty to the environment. Staff on all our sites are continually updating and adding to our range of initiatives on sustainability. The energy management strategy enables us to make further improvements in energy efficiency across the University."