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Last updated: 24 March 2021

UK's Top 50 Green Universities

In recent years, governments and organisations have increased their efforts to preserve the environment and eco-system by investing more heavily in recycling and sustainable resources.

Universities have been especially good at recognising the need for more research in sustainable technologies, and have started to invest not only in greener infrastructures and practices but also in new ways to engage students and staff through green projects and events.

The map below, created by GreenMatch, shows UK’s top 50 Green Universities and their most notable sustainable projects.

Ranking 1 - 10 Ranking 11 - 20 Ranking 21 - 30 Ranking 31 - 40 Ranking 41 - 50

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As green awareness is increasing, green university rankings are also gaining greater importance. When it comes to eco-friendly universities, a trustworthy and independent source of information is People and Planet. Their University League table offers an annual comprehensive ranking of UK’s universities according to their environmental and ethical achievements.People and Planet have developed their own percentage rating system, which is divided into 13 categories (environmental policy, waste and recycling, carbon reduction, water reduction, etc.). Universities can score up to a 100% in each category, which are then combined to form the total score for the final ranking.

This year, Nottingham Trent University is leading the ranking, with a total score of 76,20%, followed by University of Brighton (total score: 74,80%). The complete list includes a total of 150 universities in the UK.If you are looking for information about the most eco-friendly places to study in the UK, the GreenMatch map will give you a quick overview of UK’s Top 50 Green Universities. The map includes the total score of People and Planet, the university’s achievements in carbon and waste reduction, plus an additional example of a notable initiative or project the university has implemented.

Besides supporting the government with research in sustainable technology, UK universities are continuously optimising operations and working on reducing their own carbon footprint, and many have made significant progress in this area. For instance, the City University of London has managed to reduce its carbon emissions by 47.98% since 2005.

When it comes to green initiatives, students are a powerful driving force. In fact, in a survey conducted by SITA UK, in 2013, 55% of UK students reported strong commitment to recycling activities. And the numbers are growing.

The NUS (National Union of Students) is a notable contributor to the green movement. The student union promotes different events and projects every year, like the national Go Green Week. During the Go Green Week students across the UK take action and hold events on their campuses to raise awareness to climate change.

As a result of the global green movement, many universities, not only in the UK, but all over the world, have voluntarily implemented the ISO 14001. By doing so, universities are showing their commitment to potential partners and students who are increasingly adding sustainability to their checklist when submitting their college applications.

UK universities are top performers in sustainability, even on a global scale. The GreenMetric ranking conducted annually by UI (Universitas Indonesia), places University of Nottingham as the second greenest university in the world, after University of California Davis. Moreover, 5 spots out of the first 10 are awarded to British universities. You can see the GreenMetric top 10 list for 2016 below.

Ranking University Total Score
#1 University of California Davis 8398
#2 University of Nottingham 8079
#3 Wageningen University & Research 7658
#4 University of Connecticut 7602
#5 University of Oxford 7591
#6 Universitat fur Bodenkultur Wien 7386
#7 Keele University 7254
#8 University of California Berkeley 7156
#9 Nottingham Trent University 7126
#10 Newcastle University 7081

Within the complete top 50 list, Europe is the frontrunner, with 22 featured universities, 8 of them British. The criteria used by UI is based on 6 main factors - setting and infrastructure, energy and climate change, waste, water, transportation and education. 

GreenMetric Top 50 Universities
UK 8
Rest of Europe 14
Rest of the World 28

A total of 13 North American universities made it on the GreenMetric list, with 3 of them reaching the top 10. Only 3 Latin American higher education institutions are listed in the top 50. These are the Brazilian UFLA (Nº 38), Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (Nº 41) and Universidad Nacional de Colombia (Nº 45). 

GreenMetric Top 50 Universities
UK 8
Rest of Europe 14
North America 13
Latin America 3
Far East 9
Australia 2
Middle East 1

Among the university projects featured by  you can find initiatives on:

  • Sustainable building design
  • Renewable energy
  • Water bottle reuse
  • Locally produced food
  • Waste disposal
  • Green transport