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Sustainability at Norwich

Sustainability at Norwich

Carbon Reduction

In 2005 the University created its first Carbon Management Plan and set itself a target of reducing its carbon emissions by 20% by 2020. Despite the rapid growth of the campus and rise in student numbers over this period, the University comfortably achieved this target. A large part of this was due to the more efficient use of energy.

As the University renovates buildings it installs much more efficient boilers and uses plate heat exchanges. It does not cool spaces, other than server rooms, but uses air handling systems to move warm air around the building. And the first intervention deliberately for ventilation is human—opening windows and vents—although it automates those that are out of reach. As well as installing better heating systems, it has improved the insulation of our buildings so that less heat is lost.

On electricity usage, it has gradually moved away from halogen/fluorescent bulbs to LED lighting. This has been estimated to reduce the kilowatt usage of lights by at least 50%. It has also made better use of intelligent lighting systems in areas such as toilets, by installing light sensors to ensure that lights are only on when required.

The University’s IT Services team uses an application called PowerMan to cut down the amount of time that PCs are left on full power when not in use.

Water use

The University has added liquid inhibitors to all its heating systems and has these levels checked on a yearly service agreement – this helps to keep the water clean and allows the water system to work at an optimum level, by allowing the water to move freely around the system; the main advantage of this is that it reduces our gas usage.

The University has installed taps that automatically turn off. On the newer installed systems, the hot water is on a feed which is on a constant ‘loop back’ to the hot water storage tank; this allows the user to have hot water within a few seconds rather than drawing off numerous litres of cold water first.

Waste and recycling

The University has a mechanism that allows students and staff to have access to free or recycled materials from the workshops and our shop. This online resource can be accessed via the University’s dedicated sustainability intranet page.
There are green recycling bins extensively available throughout the campus, which includes in the vast majority of teaching spaces and offices. These bins can be used to recycle most materials, such hard plastic, glass, paper and cardboard (i.e. any materials that Norwich City Council are able to recycle). Soft plastics are not recycled by the Council but we have installed bins in four of our buildings where such items can be disposed of, with these bins being emptied as necessary and passed to a separate company to recycle on our behalf.

Sustainable food

The University’s café is run by The Feed. The Feed is a social enterprise Through the power of food, their mission is to empower communities in Norwich, ensuring each and every person has the support to eat well, live well, and feel connected.

The Feed uses locally sourced and seasonal products wherever possible. Waste is kept to a minimum.

Responsible Investment Policy

The University has adopted a responsible investment policy which it requires its Fund Manager to follow. 

Specifically, the University will only invest in entities that exhibit best class standards of behaviour and performance in a broad range of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, using the approach developed and deployed by its Investment Manager, who must be a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment. This approach encourages entities to adopt high and improving standards of ESG behaviour which the University believes will generate superior long-term financial returns.

Reflecting its ethical values, the University does not invest in fossil fuel companies or those whose principal business is involved in: tobacco, gambling, adult entertainment, cluster bombs, or armaments.  

Our Fund Manager is abrdn, who has a responsible approach to investment.

The University’s Investment Manager(s) will proactively engage with entities through direct engagement with companies on particular issues, for example via dialogue with company boards, tabling resolutions and voting at AGMs. Investment Manager(s) are also expected to collaborate with other members of the responsible investment community to leverage impact on critical issues. We expect the investment manager to report on engagement activities at least annually.

The University is committed to listing a summary of its investments. The table below shows the split of investments as of 31 March, 2023, by sector.

Sector Percentage of total investments
Government Bonds 8.3%
Non-Government Bond Funds 1.8%
UK Corporate Bond Funds 5.6%
UK Equity Funds 0.3%
Global Equity Funds 0.4%
Basic Resources 1.1%
Construction & Materials 0.8%
Industrial Goods & Services 5.6%
Automobiles & Parts 1.2%
Food & Beverage 1.0%
Personal & Household Goods 3.8%
Health Care 6.8%
Retail 1.0%
Media 1.7%
Telecommunications 1.4%
Utilities 2.9%
Banks 0.8%
Insurance 2.2%
Financial Services 1.8%
Real Estate 1.1%
Technology 8.4%
Alternative 7.7%
Cash 34.6%

Staff and student engagement in sustainability

The University’s Sustainability Working Group is open to all staff and students, and is chaired by two members of the Senior Management Team (the Dean of Creative Education and the Director of Finance and Planning)

There is a dedicated sustainability budget to support the activities of the working group.

Staff and students are given lots of opportunities to engage with the activities of the working group through regular email updates and access to the University’s dedicated sustainability intranet page. Examples of such opportunities include helping with beach cleans, litter picks, and book swap shops.

There is a dedicated sustainability page on our intranet which has lots of useful resources for students and staff:

  1. Workshop Materials Hub: a starting point to contact the different University workshops to find free recyclable materials that would otherwise go to waste.
  2. Swap shop: a forum for staff and students to exchange free materials for use in their practice.
  3. A directory of sustainable shops and cafes in Norwich.
  4. What is the University doing about sustainability? Answers to some frequently asked questions about topics like energy use and recycling at the university.
  5. A message board to share your ideas, suggestions, and questions.
  6. Sustainable travel tips. Here we include reminders of the locations of campus bike racks, showers, and lockers, as well as travel-to-work schemes for staff.
  7. A tool to check your own carbon footprint and links to other sustainability resources.

The Students’ Union has representation on the Sustainability Working Group. The Students’ Union President is a member of the University Council, which is the senior committee of the University that oversees strategic decision-making.

Sustainability is one of the core values of the Students’ Union strategic plan (

Education for sustainable development

There is a Curriculum sub-group that reports to the University’s Sustainability working group.

All units of study include Learning Outcomes addressing students’ understanding and application of sustainable practice.

A minimum of one project brief per unit explicitly references sustainable challenges and practices to enhance community understanding.

Work addressing environmental issues is highlighted on the plasma screens around the University.

Contact us

For general enquiries, get in touch with us.

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Norwich University of the Arts
Francis House
3-7 Redwell Street

Contact us: 01603 610561