The University of Strathclyde has been named as a finalist in the 2023 Green Gown Awards in recognition of its efforts to make the new National Manufacturing Institute Scotland headquarters at Inchinnan the University’s first operational ‘carbon neutral for energy’ building.

The Green Gown Awards, established in 2004 by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EUAC), recognise exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges. Strathclyde is shortlisted in the 2030 Climate Action category.

Construction of the NMIS headquarters building was completed in Spring 2023 and it was officially opened in June, becoming an exemplar of Strathclyde’s sector-leading approach to collaboration with industry, government and academia and embodying Strathclyde’s strategic commitment to sustainability.

The building is Energy Performance Certificate A+ rated, assessed as BREEAM Outstanding, achieves Net Zero (regulated) Energy – and features a green roof, rainwater harvesting and enhanced fabric and air-tightness. 

Collaborative relationship

The University’s strong collaborative relationship with the Scottish Funding Council and Salix Finance facilitated access to extra funding required to install the University’s largest solar photovoltaic array (600kW roof array and 340KW canopy array) – which will deliver on site power generation vital to the sustainability and economics of the building and achieving the University’s Net Zero ambitions. 

A district heating network, which uses waste heat from the nearby Laighpark sewage treatment plant, works as a clean heat source, rather than using natural gas. The facility also utilises sustainable urban drainage and a rain garden provides a rainwater harvesting capacity of 100,000 litres for non-potable use.

David Charles, Head of Climate Operations at Strathclyde, said: “The University took on a leadership role in this project to demonstrate that through innovation, planning and a willingness to accept a degree of risk, it is possible for Higher Education Institutions to facilitate and deliver sustainable infrastructure at scale – and within budget. 

“This project has demonstrated what can be achieved when all partners have a common and ambitious vision and that when they are focused on their aligned goals, success can be achieved.”

NMIS sits within the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMIDS), one of two Innovation Districts that Strathclyde is central to operating and providing strategic leadership within, the other being Glasgow City Innovation District. The NMIS project has provided a template for the University to drive forward its award-winning Climate Neutral Innovation District plan to create a 100% climate neutral area within GCID that integrates heat, power, transport, climate adaptation and wellbeing solutions that will benefit everyone. 

Innovative sustainability

Charlotte Bonner, CEO of EAUC, said: “The Green Gown Awards are one of the most prestigious ways we recognise impactful and innovative sustainability practice across the further and higher education sectors.

“They are not our awards – they are for the sector, delivered collaboratively in partnership in the UK and globally. In a space where greenwash and sustainability marketing has become prolific, the sector led, peer-reviewed structure of the Green Gown Awards ensures they are meaningful, transparent, and authentic. We know that the excitement and pride that comes from being a finalist is a great springboard for institutions to engage more people in their sustainability work.

“But the value of the Green Gown Awards is beyond the individual organisations that are nominated. We look forward to sharing stories about our finalists’ work – providing inspiration, demonstrating impact, and learning from lessons learned along the way.” 

A total of 102 finalists, representing 65 institutions, are competing across 16 categories and winners will be announced at a ceremony in late November.

Strathclyde has won four Green Gown Awards in the past decade. The most recent was in 2022 in the Student Engagement category for Strathclyde’s Climate Education Kick-Off (StrathCEKO), a climate education programme held in the run-up to the COP26 conference in Glasgow in 2021.