The Green Paper The Sustainability Lab, Bangor University

Welcome to the first edition of our Green Paper – the one-stop shop for information on the environment and sustainability at Bangor University and the work of the Sustainability Lab and our partners across Campus.

The interest in re-building the economy and communities by embracing GREEN opportunities has never been greater. More information on our commitments to Carbon reduction and response to the climate emergency will be shared in the coming months. Our success with these initiatives will rely on support and action from all of us.

In this issue we are focussing on:

  • Sustainability in Bangor, Wales and the world
  • The UN SDG 9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • Sustainable infrastructure at BU
  • Resource Efficiency (Waste Management) at Bangor University
  • Book of the month

Please send your comments/contributions to the paper to sustainability@bangor.ac.uk and join our Green Teatime chats. The next one is at 10.30am, July 28th.

Sustainable Development - Bangor, Wales and the World

Are you aware of the Well-being of Future Generations Act (WFGA) and the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030? Both are important to all of us, the first, because it’s the way we do things in Wales and the second because Universities are major players in meeting the global goals. BU performed well in the THE Impact 2020, the VC has signed us up to The SDG Accord.

We will be sharing more information about both in every issue, but in the meantime, here is a quick summary:

The challenge – an easy way to define sustainability

There is ONE Sustainable Development Principle

As we fulfil our destiny to be the research university in the north of Wales, for the north of Wales, for the whole of Wales and globally we must act in a manner which seeks to ensure that the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Whatever we do, as individuals, school, college, service department, we need to consider the possible impact of our decision making on the people living their lives in Wales currently, and in the future.

There are FOUR pillars:


Right now, as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic we are facing a huge financial challenge. But we must also recognise that the economy is interdependent with the environment, society and culture. If we want Bangor University to be sustainable in the long term, it is important that we consider how to tackle all four aspects in a balanced way.

There are FIVE Ways of Working

To help us work together better, avoid repeating past mistakes and tackle some of the challenges we are facing we need:

Long term thinking: We must balance short and long-term solutions, getting through the challenges we face now and safeguarding the needs of the future

Prevention is better than cure: We must consider whether the decisions and actions we take will prevent problems occurring or getting worse – or will they make things better, for now and in the long term

Collaboration, Collaboration, Collaboration: This should be our mantra working together to sustain and progress efficiency and effectiveness, embracing new, dynamic ways of working, promoting inclusivity and diversity

Integration: Bringing together all our disparate activities to meet our common goal will be the key to success, adopting systems thinking, recognising the complexity and interconnectedness between us

Involvement: It’s extremely important that as many people as possible from all parts of the University get involved in finding solutions that will help us be sustainable in the long term reflecting and taking advantage of the rich diversity of people from all backgrounds, ability and beliefs

There are SEVEN Well-Being Goals

Last but not least we aim to demonstrate that our activities contribute to the following seven well-being goals:

A prosperous University in a prosperous Wales - contributing towards an innovative, productive, low-carbon society that uses its resources efficiently and proportionately

A resilient University in a resilient Wales - creating a healthy environment supporting social, economic and ecological resilience, a society that adapts to change

A healthier Wales University in a healthier Wales - maximising physical and mental well-being by making right choices for the future

A more equal University in a more equal Wales - enabling people to fulfil their potential regardless of background or circumstances

A University of cohesive communities - creating capable, safe and well-connected communities within our boundaries and with the locality

A University of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh Language - promoting and protecting culture, heritage and language

A globally responsible University - considering the wider impacts of our decisions on global well-being as we fulfil our destiny to be the research university in the north of Wales, for the north of Wales, for the whole of Wales and globally.

There are SEVENTEEN United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) to be met by 2030

Each month we will be highlighting one of these. This month it’s GOAL 9 (but inevitably we touch on others too)

REQUEST: As part of our reporting obligations to the SDG Accord and as we participate in the many league tables we need information on how all parts of the University are addressing the challenge. This will be quite a task, so if you have any ideas on how we can capture information in a user-friendly and relatively pain free way please get in touch sustainability@bangor.ac.uk

In July, we look at the importance of Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure for the Sustainable Development Goals – SDG 9 – as the foundation to build back better in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic (and to prepare us for two other challenges – Brexit and climate change). A strong and resilient infrastructure remains the backbone of thriving communities. It is the driving force to ensure access to sustainable, smart and innovative technologies, equitable rights to innovation, financial markets and jobs.


  • Fewer than 1 in 5 people use the internet in Least Developed Countries (2019)
  • Nearly the entire world population lives in an area covered by a mobile network. It is estimated that, in 2019, 96.5% thereof was covered by at least a 2G network.
  • In 2019, 14% of the world’s workers were employed in manufacturing activities. Global growth in manufacturing had already steadily declined even before COVID-19. The pandemic is hitting manufacturing industries hard and causing disruptions in global value chains and the supply of products.

Source: https://sdgs.un.org/sites/default/files/2020-07/The-Sustainable-Development-Goals-Report-2020_Page_16.png


Investment in Infrastructure - Bangor University contributing towards the UNSDG 9 and 12

Between July 2018 and December 2019, the University invested £2.5million into improvements in electrical and heating infrastructure in 39 buildings across campus, with the help of Welsh Government's ReFit Cymru energy efficiency programme. The investment, in the form of an interest free loan to be repaid through savings on energy bills, covered infrastructure improvements in 39 buildings across the Science Site, College Road, Normal Site, Menai Bridge and Ffriddoedd Student Village. All improvement measures taken will reduce use of electricity and gas in the 39 buildings, reducing not only the University’s energy bills but also our carbon footprint.

As part of the scheme, solar panels have been installed on five buildings; Thoday, Brambell, Wheldon, Canolfan Brailsford and New Arts Library. In total, the panels are expected to generate more than 140,000 kWh of renewable electricity every year, reducing annual carbon emissions by more than 56 tonnes CO2e.

Some other improvement measures are less obvious, such as the installation of LED lighting to save more than 970,000 kWh of electricity per year, reducing carbon emissions by more than 370 tonnes. Others have taken place entirely “behind-the-scenes”, including extensive upgrading of pipe insulation anticipated to save nearly 400,000kWh of gas each year and reducing carbon emissions by more than 73 tonnes of CO2e. Optimisation of heating systems and controls are also projected to reduce gas use by nearly 1,136,000 kWh per year, saving more than 250 tonnes of CO2e.

A new smart-system for controlling heating was also installed in more than 1900 bedrooms and 250 kitchens across 26 Halls of Residence blocks on the Ffriddoedd site. The system allows residents to control the level of heating they require but also monitors whether the room is occupied or if a window has been opened, and will switch heating off automatically to prevent wasting heat and energy. The system is anticipated to reduce gas use by more than 500,000 kWh per year and electric use by more than 30,000 kWh per year, with a combined reduction in carbon emissions of more than 110 tonnes CO2e.

In total, the infrastructure upgrades should result in:

  • 1,700,000 kWh reduction in total electricity use per year (approximately 10.2%)
  • 140,000 kWh of electricity generated by the solar panels, and reduce gas use by nearly 2,600,000 kWh less gas used per year (approximately 12.7%). This will equate to a of more than 1160 tonnes CO2e reduction in carbon (approximately 13.7%)
  • £400,000 savings in energy bills

Industry and Innovation at Bangor University

There are many examples of EU funded projects at Bangor University that contribute to Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure. As part of the BU EU Project Network, two projects - Smart Efficiency Energy Centre & Ecostructure – will be sharing some examples.

BU EU Project Network: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure webinar 10:30 – 11:15, Thursday 23rd of July 2020

Guest speakers

The webinar will be led by Gwen Holland & Gwenith Elias, The Sustainability Lab, Bangor University.

Part of the Bangor University’s European Funded Projects Network webinar series reflecting on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of the Month.

Resource Efficiency (Waste Management) at Bangor University

Bangor University is ranked 7th in the world for Responsible Consumption and Production (UN Sustainable Development Goal 12) in 2020 – this is how we did it, with your help!

Reducing, reusing, recycling and recovering waste is a key part of ensuring that our University is operating sustainably and that our students, staff and visitors are contributing to a circular economy. Bangor University aims to become a leading institution for resource efficiency in the UK, contributing to Wales becoming the number one recycling nation, whilst supporting the Welsh green economy.

We need to re-think our attitude towards materials that we’ve been considering as ’waste’. Waste material is a resource, a valuable commodity that can be reused several times, altered or repaired, or made into something new; it should not be seen as something to just discard after its initial use. In 2018/19 Bangor University diverted 100% of our waste from landfill; of the waste diverted, 2% was reused, 56% was recycled and 42% was recovered.

In 2019/20 we introduced lab plastic recycling collections in our laboratories as well as ‘on the go’ can recycling bins, in order to increase our recycling rates and capture valuable materials that had previously been lost to energy recovery. We delivered the ‘Think Before You Drink’ catering campaign, focusing on waste prevention and reuse, which reached the final of the 2019 Green Gowns awards in the ‘Campus Health, food and drink’ category. We ran our annual waste campaign for the third consecutive year - Waste Awareness Week (#WAW19), whilst we are currently delivering the ‘End of Term Halls Reuse Drive’. We are therefore hopeful, despite the unprecedented challenges faced by the current pandemic, that our reuse and recycling rates improve again this year.

Most importantly however, in 2020, the University is moving from a mixed recycling system to a semi-segregated (separated) system, which will undoubtedly improve current recycling rates and produce cleaner, higher-quality recycling with a greater likelihood that the recyclates will be utilised here in Wales or the UK.

Earlier this year, Bangor University was awarded £124,599 by the Welsh Government through the Circular Economy Capital Fund 2019-20 for semi-segregated recycling bins (made from 100% recycled material) for our offices and learning spaces and an additional electric vehicle to collected and transport waste on site.

The University’s waste management team comprises of staff members from the Sustainability Lab, Property and Campus Services, Halls of Residence, Catering and the Student Union, who work in collaboration to deliver continuous improvements and innovative campaigns. However, none of this would be possible without the contribution and support of our dedicated students and staff. The recent staff survey revealed that 97% of staff contribute to the University’s environmental performance by recycling, and that 93% contributed by reducing unnecessary resource use. This in turn, has led to Bangor University being ranked 7th in the world for Responsible Consumption and Production (UN Sustainable Development Goal 12).

A HUGE THANK YOU TO EVERYONE for your continuing support on the journey to achieve our ambition to be the 1st in the world.

Book of the Month

The future we choose. Surviving the Climate Crisis

Christiana Figueres & Tom Rivett-Carnac. Manilla Press 2020

Many people glaze over or put their fingers in their ears when Climate Change is mentioned. Whoever you are, but particularly if you are a sceptic, this book is a breath of fresh air – practical, optimistic and empowering.

This is the age of anxitement for Stubborn Climate Activists - anxiety combined with excitement over what can be achieved. Because this is our battle to fight and to win.

There are challenging times ahead with three ‘tsunamis’ approaching during and post-Covid (whenever that will be): recession, Brexit and the impacts of Climate Change. Of the three, Climate Change, which has been happening since the 1960s, is the biggest threat and the least imminent in the minds of people and politicians. The world has two deadlines to meet to stop things getting worse, we need to:

  • Halve our emissions of GHG by 2030
  • Become net-zero by 2050

We cannot and should not take our eye off this.

But HOW?

Let us reflect on what the pandemic has shown us:

  • What experts can and do happen
  • Those catastrophes can affect us as well as people 'somewhere else'
  • The just-in-time supermarkets model is flawed, empty shelves and toilet roll shortages and queues for food don't just happen in other countries
  • There is a magic money tree after all - where there is a will, governments will find a way (think furlough, think wars)
  • It is possible to engage with the population to effect extreme behaviour change when there is immediate threat to individuals and their families.

We need to be focussing firmly on the future we choose (a subtle difference from the future we want). Do we choose to focus only on what seems possible (within our limited imagination and the current politico-economic norm) or can we use the hiatus created by Covid to make choices now that will enable us not only get through recession and Brexit but to also survive the climate crisis?

We can either choose to stay on the downward spiral and contribute towards an intolerably bad, overheated, polluted 2050 or to believe that that we can choose a different scenario for 2050 – clean air, thriving nature, better quality of life for all.

The Sustainability Lab agrees that GREEN, GREEN, GREEN should an overarching mantra in the global post-Covid recovery (and the University’s recovery).

We are aware that it will not be easy but we also believe that the framework of the Well-being of Future Generations Act that the University has chosen to adopt offers us a tool to collectively create the future we choose.

There are many links to useful sites at the end of the book, here are a few: