This world university league table, which is a distinctly green one, first appeared in 2010 and was headed by the University of California, Berkeley.
Last year the University of Nottingham held the top spot. And this year it is the turn of a different part of the University of California, UC Davis, with Nottingham slipping back to 2nd.
The top 10 is as follows (last year in brackets):
1 University of California Davis (3)
2 University of Nottingham (1)
3 Wageningen University (32)
4 University of Connecticut (2)
5 University of Oxford (5)
6 Universitat fur Bodenkultur Wien (13)
7 Keele University (88)
8 University of California Berkeley (6)
9 Nottingham Trent University (15)
10 Newcastle University (68)
The details of the table can be found at the UI GreenMetric site.
The methodology can be summarised as follows (as difficult to understand as we have come to expect but still pretty clear when set alongside People & Planet):
- The philosophy
We based our instrument on a broad philosophy that encompasses the three Es: Environment, Economics and Equity.
- The criteria
We selected criteria that are generally considered to be of importance by universities concerned with sustainability. These include the collection of a basic information of the size of the university and its zoning profile, whether urban, suburban, or rural. Beyond this we would like to see the degree of green space. The next category of information concerns about electricity consumption because of its link to our carbon footprint. Then we want to know about transport, water usage, waste management and so on. Beyond these indicators, we would like to get a picture about how the university is responding to or dealing with the issues of sustainability through policies, actions, and communication.
Scoring for each item will be numeric so that our data can be processed statistically. Scores will be simple counts of things, or responses on a scale of some sort.
- The weighting of criteria
Each of the criteria will be categorised in a general class of information and when we process the results, the raw scores will be weighted to give a final calculation.
There is a comprehensive breakdown of the criteria here but in summary it looks like this:
Overall, it was a good result for UK institutions and Nottingham in particular (as well as for Oxford, Trent, Keele and Newcastle, all in the top 10).
The number of institutions participating this year remains substantial and this league table continues to become more established. However, some spectacular rises in the table, especially from Keele (up 81 places to 7th) and Newcastle (up 58 places to 10th) do perhaps raise some questions about the methodology.