The significance of sustainable development for UK universities was driven home this week with the launch of an action plan that puts compliance on their agenda.
Charles Clarke, the education secretary, outlined government thinking at a conference on the role of higher, further and professional education in a sustainable future. The meeting was organised by the Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability, a collaboration between Forum for the Future and 18 UK universities that have pioneered the approach.
The secretary of state's grant letter to the Higher Education Funding Council for England last month called on its officials to keep the Department for Education and Skills briefed on progress and to produce a sustainable development strategy for higher education.
Universities may lose out on grant allocations if they do not adopt sustainable development as a guiding principle.
How institutions can cut environmental impact and stay flush
Gloucester may not bask in year-long sunshine, but the University of Gloucestershire's Oxstalls campus, which opened in September 2003, is a showcase for solar energy, writes Oliver Lowenstein.
The design, by veteran sustainable architects Feilden Clegg Bradley, features photovoltaic cells on the roof of the university's Sports Science Centre that promise to deliver about 65 per cent of its electricity needs and about a quarter of the energy requirement of Oxstalls' two new buildings.
A number of other campus projects feature photovoltaic cells. They range from Northumbria University to the new Zuckerman Centre for Connective Environmental Research at the University of East Anglia.
Photovoltaic cells can easily double the cost of a £10,000 roof. But as Gloucestershire has shown, this cost can be met with grants from the government and other sources.
Oliver Lowenstein is editor of Fourth Door Review , www.fourthdoor.co.uk/fourthdoor/
Sheffield Hallam University will promote Fairtrade Fortnight next month as part of a commitment to raise awareness about sustainability, writes Alison Utley.
From March 1 to 14, the university, which sells Fairtrade tea and coffee, will offer free samples of a wider selection of goods including chocolate and handicrafts. Fairtrade food and drinks will also be available in the university's catering outlets.
Last year, Georgina Kersey organised a farmers' market next to the university's city centre campus for producers of environmentally friendly products to encourage staff and students to buy local produce.
At the "Think Before You Buy" initiative, university staff and students were able to sample snacks such as ostrich burgers made from birds reared locally.
Edinburgh University has stopped pouring money down the drain with infra-red sensors on urinals, stopping them flushing if they have not been used for an hour, writes Olga Wojtas.
The university has been working to reduce its impact on the environment, largely thanks to its former principal, botanist Sir David Smith. In 1993, it adopted an environmental policy that evolved seven years later into a sustainability policy that integrated economic, environmental and social issues.
Edinburgh has cut its energy costs by more than 5 per cent since 1990 even though student numbers have doubled.