The University of Bath has been recognised by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation for its work on promoting a circular economy through its learning and teaching, its applied sustainability research and its Climate Action Framework to reduce carbon emissions across campus.
The University is featured as one of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's Profiled Universities, a collaborative global community showcasing compelling teaching, research and other initiatives in the circular economy space.
Teaching and learning
Bath was the first university in the UK to sign the Green Chemistry Commitment, a charter to train the next generation of chemists in the theory and application of green chemistry principles.
The University has also introduced a Climate Literacy induction course for all undergraduate and postgraduate students to engage with the topic of climate change and gain insights into the University’s applied teaching and research in this area.
Sustainability is at the heart of many of the postgraduate courses on offer at Bath, including:
- MSc Innovative Structural Materials (Dept. Architecture & Civil Engineering)
- MSc Environmental Engineering (Dept. of Chemical Engineering)
- MRes Sustainable Futures (Dept. of Psychology)
- MEng Chemical Engineering with Environmental Engineering
- The Centre for Sustainable and Circular Technologies (CSCT) has a number of PhD programmes with learning modules relating to the Circular Economy.
Alongside embedding sustainability in the curriculum, the University is creating innovative educational initiatives for students to engage with sustainability and further develop the skills and attributes they will need.
For example, Vertically Integrated Projects, known as VIPs, are innovative research and applied learning projects that enable inter-disciplinary, multi-level teams of students to work with a member of academic staff on long-term real-world projects which address global challenges often with a local focus.
Applied sustainability research
Sustainability is one of the three key themes for research at Bath. Researchers from across the University are exploring how we travel, build, manufacture, heat and eat more sustainably, bringing together innovative technological solutions with insight into human behaviour, policy and society.
The University’s CSCT conducts research into sustainable technologies and the circular economy including:
- Innovation Centre for Applied Sustainable Technologies (iCAST), partnering academia and industry to translate discoveries into commercial applications. Research areas include circular plastics, sustainable manufacturing, biobased feedstocks and sustainable engineering materials.
- Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC) is addressing decarbonisation through balancing carbon emissions within local clusters, reviewing land use and producing high-value chemicals.
- Catalysis for the Circular Economy and Sustainable Manufacturing, developing sustainable plastics, low-environmental impact catalysts for the chemical industry and improving efficiency of continuous flow chemistry.
- Supergen Bioenergy Hub, working with industry, government and academia to develop sustainable, low carbon bioenergy systems.
As part of its Climate Action Framework, the University is implementing a whole institution response to the climate emergency, supporting the transition to net zero carbon through its institutional strategy and core decision making. The University has committed to becoming net zero carbon in its scope 1 (direct fuel combustion emissions), 2 (purchased energy emissions) and 3 (goods, travel and investments) emissions by 2040.
The University has for many years created energy using combined heat and power plants (CHP) on campus, as well as recycling waste heat on site.
Meeting the University’s ambitious carbon targets will require major reductions in the energy demands of the campus and buildings and a step change in how it addresses this.
The University has recently commissioned a detailed heat decarbonisation study of its campus, to understand how to approach this.
Chief Operating Officer, Keith Zimmerman said: “Climate change is the most urgent sustainability issue of our time, and the University is committed to becoming net zero by 2040 through embedding low carbon design into our Estates approach.
“The strength of our whole institution approach is that whilst transitioning to net zero, we can study our own transition, use this as a tool to educate our students and to help the rest of society address the challenge of climate change.
“Becoming an Ellen MacArthur profiled university helps us to showcase this and amplify its impact.”
Professor Marcelle McManus, Professor of Energy and Environmental Engineering in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Co-Director of the CSCT, said: “We are very excited and pleased to be a profiled university.
“Sustainability is core to our education and research. Our students expect and deserve to have access to the latest research to help equip them for the workplace where net zero is core business.
“Our industrial, business and policy partners and colleagues are committed to decarbonising and developing the circular economy.
“Becoming an Ellen MacArthur profiled university helps us celebrate this and ensure others see the breadth and diversity we offer.”
Discover more about Bath’s sustainability research:
- Developing a sustainable alternative to palm oil
- Growing cultured meat for sustainable and ethical nutrition
A new podcast “How can we get to net zero?” features sustainability experts from across the University, including Professor Marcelle McManus.