Sustainability at the RAU

The University is committed to sustainability across all areas from our teaching and research, to the way we manage the campus.

In 2015 we were ranked first of all UK universities for carbon reduction in relation to income and achieved an internationally recognised environmental management standard. In 2016 we were awarded the Guardian University Award for Sustainability.

Environmental management system

The RAU has achieved IS014001 - the international standard for environmental management - which is a regularly audited structured system for protecting the environment. As part of this we have created a Sustainability Action Plan outlining ambitious targets and a programme for achieving these. We also have a Sustainability Policy which is signed off by the Vice-Chancellor.

Energy and carbon

Our Carbon Management Plan commits the RAU to a 34% decrease in CO2 by 2020, which was signed off by the Governing Council. To achieve this we have invested in a range of renewables on campus, including a 500kW biomass boiler powering all lecture blocks and our new accommodation blocks. This is fuelled by locally sourced woodchip and has reduced the University’s carbon footprint by over 100t/CO2 per year. We were fortunate to benefit from a grant to support this from the South West Regional Development Agency which was delivered by Regen SW. We also have a number of solar photovoltaic arrays, rainwater harvesting systems and air source heat pumps. Our building developments incorporate energy efficiency measures such as LED lighting and natural ventilation. Residential carbon emissions made up 26% of our total emissions in 2015/16.

Our business is also backed by electricity generated from renewable sources.


To help you travel to the University and the local area we provide a free shuttle bus for all students. This operates throughout the day and services go to Cirencester and the John Oldacre Rural Innovation Centre at Harnhill Manor Farm. We also organise events such as free bike servicing, cycle training and second-hand bike sales.

Waste and recycling

We have put in a number of initiatives to reduce our waste production and reuse and recycle as much as possible. If living on campus you will be provided with mixed recycling bins in your bedrooms and glass recycling facilities in communal areas. We also arrange British Red Cross and Food Bank collections at the end of term to reduce waste whilst benefiting the community.


We encourage biodiversity on campus with wildflower perimeters, bird boxes and sensitive management.

The Wild Campus project is currently underway, aiming to improve biodiversity on the RAU site and neighbours Cirencester College and Cirencester Deer Park School by establishing, improving and sustaining habitats and wildlife corridors.

Purchasing and food

The University aims to make a positive contribution through our purchasing, for example by supporting local suppliers and RAU alumni in all our catering outlets and providing drinking water across campus. We also support our student food businesses though our enterprise programme.

Teaching and research

Sustainability and environmental matters are a core element of our teaching, research and consultancy activities. Much of our expertise and teaching relates to the management of natural resources and property and, as such, sustainability underpins much of what we do. You will be able to learn about different principles of sustainability relevant to your course, as well as developing holistic skills such as long-term planning, critical reflection and lateral thinking. Take a look at our Student Sustainability Opportunities page for more information. 

Engagement and communication

RAU sustainability is incorporated throughout the University community, including sustainability inductions for new staff, engagement with trade union representatives, and staff and student champion schemes. If you want to find out more about this take a look at our Student Sustainability Opportunities page or contact the sustainability team.

As part of our ISO14001 environmental management system, the Student Union work to minimise their negative environmental impacts.

Sustainability team

  • Sustainability in the Curriculum Lead – Professor Tom MacMillan
  • Safety & Sustainability Officer – Helen Savage

Contact the sustainability team on [email protected].