As a university, we have a vital role to play in promoting sustainability and social justice. Through the University’s Strategic Plan 2020-2025, we're committed to making a substantive contribution to addressing the challenges presented by the climate and ecological crisis through our teaching, research, campus operations and engagement with students, staff and the wider community.
We take an institution-wide approach to sustainability. Our Environmental Management System (EMS) brings together environmental and sustainability initiatives under one umbrella and has been certified to ISO14001:2015 standard and awarded EcoCampus Platinum in recognition of the work undertaken to manage environmental impacts and continually improve environmental performance.
We are a signatory of Southampton City Council’s Green City Charter and share a vision of a cleaner, greener, healthier and more sustainable city. Through the actions we take as an institution we are helping to deliver their Green City Plan 2030.
The University’s sustainability work is guided by Solent Sustainability Group, chaired by our Chief Operations Officer and comprising representatives from academic departments, professional services and the Students' Union. The Group is responsible for ensuring Solent is meeting its environmental commitments and embedding sustainable practices in all areas of the institution. The Environmental and Sustainability Enabling Plan lays out the projects and actions which the University will undertake to 2025. Solent Sustainability Group meets three times a year to check progress of the Enabling Plan and review policies including the Environmental Policy, Sustainable and Ethical Procurement Policy, and Sustainable Food Policy.
Policies and strategies
Reducing our carbon footprint
Since 2006, we’ve reduced our carbon emissions by 47%, through improvements to the University’s estate. 100% of the electricity we purchase is from REGO certified renewable sources and we continue to invest in energy efficiency measures across the campus, including LED lighting, movement sensors, and optimised building management and control. Our East Park Terrace campus is connected to Southampton Geothermal Heating Company’s district energy scheme, which provides low-carbon heating for buildings on campus. Solar photovoltaic panels are installed on The Spark and the Solent Sports Complex and the University’s Ship Handling Centre at Timsbury Lake in Romsey, generating over 50,000 kWh per annum.
The University has set an ambitious target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The route to delivering net zero in the coming decade will be outlined in a new Carbon Management Plan (CMP) in 2023.
The CMP will identify projects and actions for reducing emissions across every area of the University’s operations, including the carbon footprint of our business travel, commuting and procurement activities. New building developments and refurbishment projects are also providing opportunities to lower carbon emissions and incorporate best sustainable practices in design and construction. The University’s most recent developments - The Spark and Solent Sports Complex - have both achieved BREEAM Excellent rating.
We are also taking action to decarbonise our finances. In April 2020, Solent’s Vice Chancellor signed the People & Planet Fossil Free Declaration after the University fully divested from fossil fuels. We hold no investments in extractor fossil fuel companies and never will invest in these companies.
Recycling and waste
Solent is part of a waste and recycling contract with the universities of Southampton, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Bournemouth Arts, Winchester and Southampton City College. We share our services, with a focus on resource management, reuse and recycling and innovation. The University collects dry mixed recycling, food waste and general waste from across campus and our halls of residence.
We’ve created strong links with local charity, SCRATCH, and donate items which can be reused by the local community. When students move out of halls of residence at the end of the academic year, surplus household items and kitchenware are donated to SCRATCH and clothing is donated to British Heart Foundation’s annual Pack For Good campaign. The residences also support Southampton City Mission every year by donating surplus food collected from kitchens after students have moved out.
- Recyclable materials are sent to a materials recovery factory. Any waste which can't be recycled is sent to an energy from waste facility for energy recovery.
- Food waste from catering outlets, office kitchens and student kitchens is anaerobically digested and waste cooking oil is converted to biodiesel.
- Printing use has been reduced in the last five years, saving over 240 trees by printing a mini guide instead of a full prospectus.
Student, staff, and community engagement
We encourage all members of our university community to be environmentally and socially responsible citizens and understand that they can make a difference and effect positive change.
The annual Student Switch Off competition in halls of residence sees first year students take simple actions to reduce their energy use and carbon footprint. In ten years of supporting Student Switch Off, we’ve reached over 20,000 students, trained 90 students as ambassadors, and saved 680,344 kWh of electricity – equivalent to boiling a kettle to make 12 million cups of tea! – and avoided over 300 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted to the atmosphere.
Students also participate in the popular ‘Solent Sorts It’ competition each year, with teams in the halls of residences winning prizes for reducing the amount of waste they produce and recycling effectively.
The annual campus ‘Blackout’ event involves teams of students and staff working together to minimise energy use by switching off all non-essential equipment in offices and teaching rooms across East Park Terrace on a Friday evening. By monitoring the reduction in energy use over the Blackout weekend, we can demonstrate that individual actions add up to make a real difference to the University's carbon footprint and utility bills.
Sowlent food garden
The Sowlent Food Garden is our allotment in the heart of the city, situated next to the Solent Sports Complex on East Park Terrace.
Run by the Sowlent Student Society and Staff Garden Club, the Food Garden provides a space for volunteers grow fruit and vegetables, from leafy greens and heritage broad beans, to fresh herbs and varieties of strawberries. The Sowlent initiative is open to all staff and students and encourages everyone to take a break from work and study, get out in the fresh air and enjoy the health, wellbeing and environmental benefits of community gardening.
The Food Garden is also a Living Lab, and used for student projects including monitoring growing conditions using remote sensing and a master's dissertation exploring the link between home grown produce and improved diet and nutrition.
The University is keen ensure students and staff travel to campus as easily, safely and sustainably as possible. Our East Park Terrace campus, in the centre of Southampton, is well-served by public transport. Details of travel options can be found here.
There are cycling facilities across campus, and we run student and staff guided cycle rides, and a host of other cycling initiatives.Find out more
The University’s purchasing activities have a significant impact on the wider world. Our Sustainable and Ethical Procurement Policy ensures that we are embedding responsible procurement practices, which create positive social, economic and environmental outcomes.
The University works closely with suppliers and contractors to reduce the negative impacts within supply chains and ensure contracts deliver social value. During construction of the Solent Sports Complex, staff at lead contractor Morgan Sindall undertook voluntary work on community projects and delivered free lectures to Solent students. In addition, 86% of Morgan Sindall’s project spend was with SMEs.
We're making space for nature across all our sites. The University’s Biodiversity Action Plan, created in partnership with Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, guides our work to protect, enhance and create new habitats for wildlife.
Our Ship Handling Centre at Timsbury Lake is a haven for protected species including otter, water vole, great crested newt and eight species of bat. The site is medieval in origin and has a biodiverse mix of ponds, streams, woodland, aquatic marginal vegetation, scrub and shrub. Over 30 species of ancient woodland plants have been recorded. A conservation management plan is in place and we carry out routine habitat management and species monitoring.
The native wildflower meadow at East Park Terrace, provides pollen and nectar-rich habitat for a range of invertebrates and was awarded Highly Commended in the national Bees Needs Awards. In autumn and winter, meadow areas left uncut create shelter for overwintering insects and a food source for our resident flock of goldfinches and other seed-eating birds.
Our contract partner, Sodexo Education Ltd provides a catering operation on campus that's helping to deliver our environmental and ethical commitments. In 2020/21, Sodexo introduced its new Foodiverse concept to the University, putting local communities and sustainability at the heart of the food served on campus. Foodiverse champions plant-based dishes and reusables and works with local suppliers to provide local sourced produce. And it supports students and staff to continue adopting positive eating habits that are good for health, wellbeing and the environment.
Sodexo has achieved Soil Association Food For Life Gold Award for the food served at the East Park Terrace campus and holds the Good Egg Award, using only free-range eggs which ensure higher welfare standards for laying hens. We serve Rainforest Alliance certified coffee on campus and are MSC certified, ensuring that all fish and seafood on our menus is responsibly sourced.
In partnership with the Solent Students’ Union, the University has implemented a Fairtrade Policy which is reviewed on an annual basis. Fairtrade products are available for sale in all campus shops, and Fairtrade foods are used in all cafés and restaurants.
Drinking water refill points are located across campus as part of our commitment to reducing single-use plastics. Click on the map and then on the tap icon for a description of where the refill point is located in the building. The water point at Main Reception in Andrews Building is also a Refill station on the national Refill App.
Education and research
Through our courses and degree programmes, we are equipping our students with the skills and attributes needed to shape a positive future. We want all Solent students to learn about sustainability and apply their learning when they graduate to make the world a better place.
Through education and research, the University contributes to progress against many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) targets and we are aiming to achieve a top 33% placing in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings by 2025.
Solent is involved in and leading a range of innovative research projects into sustainability and environmental challenges.