Congratulations to the Winners of the 2022 ISCN Awards

Please join François Miller from McGill University and the ISCN Membership as we celebrate the winners of the 2022 ISCN Excellence in Sustainability Awards and hear more about their projects.

Whole Systems Approach

The University of Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s Whole Institution Approach to Addressing the Climate Crisis

The climate crisis is one of the most pressing issues facing humanity, and the University has demonstrated its commitment to playing a leading role in creating a more sustainable world through implementing a whole institution approach. The University’s Climate Change Strategy from 2016, sets out the significant steps it will take to achieve its carbon neutral commitment by 2040.

To date, the University has reduced its carbon emissions by 20 per cent since 2007-08, during a period when turnover increased by one hundred per cent. A total of £7.4 million has been invested since 2016-17 in projects, delivering savings of £1 million and estimated annual saving of over 3,000 tonnes CO₂e.

In terms of investments, in October 2021, the University announced a multi-million-pound, long-term investment to remove 1.5m tonnes of unavoidable CO2 by restoring peatlands & expanding forests, working with SEPA and NatureScot and having benefits for research, learning and teaching. The University divested from fossil fuels in 2021. As part of Zero by 2040, the University announced in October 2017 a shift of £60M into sustainability and low carbon companies. Two funds were established, with one investing in companies tackling a wide range of sustainability issues while the second fund invests exclusively in renewable technology to support the global transition to low carbon energy systems.  The University has invested more than £150 million in low carbon technology, climate-related research and businesses that directly benefit the environment since 2010.

The Sustainable Travel Policy was agreed in March 2021 (to be implemented Jan 2022). It sets out how all local, national and international travel taken on behalf of the University should take place. This policy supports our Climate Conscious Travel approach which looks to reduce our overall travel. The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an obvious decrease in business travel in 2020-21. However, business travel has presented and will most likely continue to be a challenge as a source of Scope 3 emissions.

And the University has been proactively developing a range of accessible education resources, as well as harnessing its academic expertise to help local and global efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Partnerships for Progress

University of Strathclyde

Climate Neutral Glasgow City Innovation District

The University has developed a vision to create ‘Climate Neutral Districts’ at all its operational assets in response to the global climate emergency and in support of the University’s Net Zero target by 2040. The vision includes ten live projects all of which are innovative, ambitious and collaborative in their approach.

This submission focuses on Project 1, the creation of a Climate Neutral Innovation District in Glasgow City Centre.  The vision is to deliver 100% renewable heat from the River Clyde combining clean power, transport, climate resilience, health and wellbeing for people, communities and businesses in this entrepreneurial investment city zone.

The vision is specifically designed to align with existing city plans and climate and social justice policies and makes them stronger and more deliverable.   The innovative, ‘whole systems’ approach builds the links between mitigation, adaptation, biodiversity and social and climate justice.

This Climate Neutral Innovation District is a 170-hectare area bounded by the M8 North and the

River Clyde to the south. The district is located around the city centre and High Street area, the original birthplace of Glasgow. The main energy consumers include public and private – the St Enoch Shopping Centre, the city’s Universities, Colleges, hospital, residential areas and the central business district. This dense urban area has 17,000 homes and the NHS Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

The project will enable a 93% emissions reduction, affordable heat for the community and enable more resilience to energy stress, a major and growing issue for people and organisations within and adjacent to the Innovation District.

We worked in partnership with Glasgow City Council as part of Sustainable Glasgow which the University is a member of and which is led by the Leader of the Council. Having set out the vision, the University procured and invested in a robust design team, built around the University’s strong network of industry contacts. The technical team of Atkins, COMSOF, STAR, Minibems, Smarter Grid Solutions, Ikigai and Energy Systems Catapult, (ESC) all advised and worked together effectively.

Regular communications with the Sustainable Glasgow Board helped to build capacity and support. Further, to enable constructive feedback, the University also formed a multi-stakeholder Steering Group to act as a ‘sounding board’ for the project to enable the sharing and critique of the outputs that were reported at each project milestone.

Cultural Change for Sustainability

Université de Liège

Student commitment program to reduce individual carbon footprint

From March 2021:

The GOAL of the program is to support and guide our 25.000 students in their wish to reduce by 50 % their GHG emissions by 2030, in accordance with Paris Agreement. The project impacts the SDGs 3, 11, 12, 13, 17 and also 14 and 15.

Its STRATEGY is integrated into 4 pillars

  1. Sensibilization (SDG4): to inform about sustainable development, climate change and carbon footprint.
  2. Integration (SDG17): to encourage students to share their opinions through vote, enquiries and hackathons.
  3. Action (SDG 3, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15): to stimulate students through 30 challenges to change their habits in order to emit less CO2. On a collaborative platform, students can choose which challenges they want to take on regarding housing, mobility, food, IT and purchase. For each challenge, they see the CO2 emission avoided on their profile.
  4. Communication: our goal is to mobilize the majority of our student community to participate in the program. Volunteer students take part in the writing of the challenges and their promotion on social media through the conception of short videos.

The first RESULTS:

At the university of Liege (ULiege), almost 2.200 students have participated in the program with more than 5000 challenges achieved.

From June 2021:

Last June the Commitment Program won the Challenge Campus 2030 Award.

Following this international recognition, several universities asked the Green Office to share the program.

With the coaching of Pulse group, we are creating a TOOLBOX to help other schools to replicate quickly and easily this program.

The toolbox gives concrete keys (slides and recordings of trainings, library of challenges, …) to install the four pillars of the commitment program.

Last fall, we gather a consortium of partners to initiate a pilot phase to test the replication project.

The partners include MORE THAN 50 % OF HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS from the Walloon and Brussels Region of Belgium!

In March, we start the REPLICATION by the twinning of two challenges on different campuses.

This twinning is exciting: it creates energy and enthusiasm among students and partners! Moreover, this dynamic improves the quality of the program thanks to constructive feedbacks of both partners and participants.

Thanks to the commitment program and its replication, we participate in a cultural change by building large communities engaged for sustainability.


Honorary Member Award

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

HKUST Sustainable Smart Campus as a living lab

Like many of our fellow global research universities, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) embraces sustainability as an integral part of our strategic development plan. This starts with the recognition that the principles embedded in sustainability thinking – creating the conditions for people to thrive, focusing on long-term value instead of short-term gains, and living within our planetary boundaries while appreciating the varied stages of development of different regions – are the fundamental touchstones that allow us to measure progress in terms of positive global impact.

To place this vision into action, in 2019, HKUST launched the Sustainable Smart Campus as a Living Lab (SSC) initiative. The concept is simple: We need innovative technologies to address some of the most challenging global sustainability problems (Smart), and we need to develop and encourage the right mindset (Sustainability) to set the guardrails to keep the innovation focused on providing results that improve the public good.

The SSC combines faculty research with campus operations, community, and hands-on project-based learning. Funded projects show the campus community that we can move innovation out of laboratories and onto the campus as a testing ground for results and outcomes under real-time conditions. In just three years, the SSC has resulted in a noticeable and impactful change to the campus environment and has established our campus as a “go-to” place for the Hong Kong community to visit and be truly inspired.

This approach has resulted in the launch of 30 or so university-funded projects, including the installation of indoor air-quality sensors to improve well-being, AI-driven tracking systems for inventorying tree and bird species, self-cleaning multipurpose nano-coatings to improve photovoltaic panel efficiencies, autonomous greywater treatment processes that streamline water recycling, and a digital twin of all campus buildings for a digitized platform for streamlined operations. The goals of such projects are two-fold: to move innovation out of research labs to the campus as a testing ground, and to assess the scalability of these ideas from campus to our city and beyond. For students, the projects provide a clear demonstration how to combine innovation with a sustainability mindset.

ISCN Awards Jury 2022

The ISCN Award Jury 2022 was comprised of 2021 ISCN Award winners, selected ISCN members to ensure representation of the ISCN’s global membership, and external international experts.

A warm thanks to our ISCN Awards 2022 jury members who were:

Winners from 2021 –

  • Whole Systems Approach: Abiodun Humphrey Adebayo, Covenant University (Africa)
  • Cultural Change for Sustainability: Deliang Loo, National University of Singapore (Asia)

ISCN Member Juror – 

  • Dano Weisbord, Smith College (North America)
  • Denise Espinosa, University of São Paulo (South America)

External Expert Jurors –

  • Stephen Davison, Cambridge University
  • Giselle Weybrecht, Author of The Sustainable MBA