If University College Cork was a country — say, Ireland — we would be considered one of the most environmentally responsible nations on earth.
In the region of 300,000 people a day would cycle to work, aided by around 250,000 bicycle racks, making us fitter and healthier while reducing C02 levels.
We would save €7.5m a year in waste management costs, reduce waste to landfill by around one million tonnes, and conserve almost enough water to fill Lough Derg.
Such is the scale of the achievement at UCC, under its Green Campus programme, that it is little wonder it has been ranked number one in the world for its work in assisting the UN goal of ‘responsible consumption and production’.
The Green revolution began a decade ago and was student-led. With a student population of 21,000, UCC is bigger than the average Irish town, so bringing together students and staff to develop it into a sustainable Green Campus was a real challenge. It took hard graft, commitment and imagination.
The first step was for the students to establish committee in conjunction with academic staff. At the time, there were no recycling facilities for students on campus so their first action was to don overalls, dive into the skips, and see what type of waste was being disposed of. Let us all raise a re-usable glass to toast the students and staff at UCC for their remarkable achievement.