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The Glasgow Caledonian University

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Studies
Wordcount: 2344 words Published: 21st Apr 2017

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Glasgow Caledonian University is one of the largest universities in Scotland with nearly 17,000 students. This institution was established in 1993, as a result of the merger of Queens College Glasgow with the Glasgow polytechnic (GCU website).The institution is situated right in the heart of Glasgow city centre. There exist increasingly, a lot of activities going on within this university making a growing case for the importance of managing the environmental impacts associated with its activities, products and services. Recognising this concern that university decided to act responsibly by making serious commitments towards a sustainable place to work and study. The commitment paid off with the recent bronze award awarded to the university by Eco campus after an off-site audit. Despite this achievement, there is still a general lack of awareness about the process and there have been no visible improvement in environmental performance.

Therefore, this report seeks to; identify the university’s main activities with significant impact to the environment, explain the relationship between Environmental Management System (EMS) and Eco campus, examine the role of eco campus in achieving the ISO14001 certification and finally suggest steps needed to be taken by the University to attain the next phase-silver awards presented by Eco campus.


“Universities are now regarded as “small cities” due to their large size, population and the various complex activities taking place in them” (Abubakar et al, 2008). Glasgow Caledonian university being one of the universities in Scotland, has going in it a complex number of activities (aspects) which could have direct or indirect impact on the environment which will result in environmental sustainability or could lead to the degradation of the environment. Such environmental aspects includes: fresh water and energy use- including electricity and heat consumption (Noeke, 2000), consumption of materials (e.g. food, paper, equipment, etc.), procurement, generation and disposal of all kinds of waste, construction (including refurbishment) and demolition activities, transport to and fro the university (Edith Cowan University, 2009), workshop and laboratory use, lectures, research and sporting activities, community support services (Abubakar et al, 2008) and finally the provision of student and staff accommodation.

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Environmental management system is a management system used by an organisation to develop and implement its own environmental policy and manage its environmental aspects (International standards organisation, 2005). It involves ; the development of environmental policy statement, implementation of that policy (through appropriate objectives/targets, clear responsibilities, organised structure, action plans and established procedures), creating awareness and training, performance monitoring and audit and lastly continuous improvement on previous policy.

Denning Cycle

The Environmental management system approach to the management of environmental impacts was based on the Plan-Do-Check-ACT (PDCA) cycle commonly known as the Denning cycle shown above. The “Plan” aspect involves, environmental baseline review, setting of objectives, assigning of responsibilities and the preparation of plans, programmes and procedures. The “Do” aspect involves implementation of these standards, procedures and action plans. The “Check” aspect involves environmental monitoring and auditing of the implemented procedures, action plans and objectives. Then the “Act” involves the review by management and the continuous improvement of the environmental policy.

Though ISO14001 standard produced by the International Standard Organisation (ISO) in 1995 is generally accepted as the global standard for certifying environmental management systems, there still exists other standards such as; Eco Management and Audit Scheme- which is an European standard established by European regulation 1836/93 as a voluntary initiative to improve companies performance (Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, 2009) and the British standard-BSI 8555, which is a national environmental management system intended towards a phased approach to implementation. Several such national environmental management systems exist across the globe


Eco campus is a national environmental management system development program and award scheme developed by the higher education sector for the higher education to improve environmental performance using a phases and modular approach (Eco campus, 2009). The project is funded by the higher education funding council for England (HEFCE) and is a collaborative project between Nottingham Trent University (NTU), Loreus Ltd, Environment Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) AND Environment Campaign- ENCAMS (EAUC, 2009). Eco campus achieves improved environmental performance through the issuance of four awards which are usually done in phases. The awards include; Bronze, Silver, Gold and platinum. With each being a product of a particular phase. The bronze award is the lowest of the awards while the platinum award is the highest and is equivalent to the ISO14001 standards.

Based on the released Eco campus audit criteria published in 2008, the Bronze award is given to institutions that have; shown senior management commitment to environmental management, carried out environmental baseline review of environmental aspects, developed a draft of environmental policy and are involved in creating awareness of the process. The Silver awards (being the 2nd phase award) is given to higher institutions that have; identified the significant environmental aspects of the university’s operations, identified the legal and other requirements related to its environmental aspects, developed environmental objectives and targets and have produced a finalised environmental policy document. Furthermore, the achievement of the Eco campus Gold awards is tied to the completion of the following processes, assigning roles and responsibilities towards meeting environmental objectives and targets, ensuring that the personnel involved in the implementation of the environmental policy are competent and adequately trained, developing and implementing standard operational control procedures, ensuring proper documentation and communication of processes involved and putting in place systems that will identify emergencies and respond to them. Finally, the platinum award is given only to institutions who have shown adherence to; monitoring and measurements of environmental aspects of the university, performing internal audits on university’s environmental performance and regularly review of environmental performance by management.


The eco campus being an environmental management system has a number of limitations to its operation. But the benefits of implementing the eco campus environmental management system far outweigh the limitations (Eco campus, 200). These benefits may include the following:

  • Eco campus will help the university to effectively improve its environmental performance in phases, thus helping the institution to gradually establish a standard environmental management practice. This will in the long run, facilitate its certification to standard environmental practices such as ISO14001 (Caledonian Environmental centre, 2009) and will reduce the overall cumulative impact on financial as well as human resources associated in the initial establishment of such standards.
  • Eco campus will improve cooperation and environmental awareness among staff, student and other relevant stakeholders (Melnyk et al, 2003). This will as reported by Abubakar et al (2008) bring a change in the way the university; exploits its resources and develops its technology. Thus leading to; reduced operational cost (profitability), increased efficiency and ultimately environmental sustainability.
  • Eco campus will enhance the university’s compliance to regulations and codes of good practice. Thereby promoting improved relationship with both the regulators and the general public. This will help reduce enforcement or civil actions and other direct or hidden legal cost associated with non compliance to regulations (GCU sustainability website, 2009)
  • Eco campus will help the University to effectively manage the impacts of its activities on the environment and improve its environmental performance. Enviro campus (2007) pointed out that, this will enhance the reputation of the university thus encouraging high student recruitment, better public perception and more community support.
  • Eco campus will have significant effect on cost saving through, reduction of cost associated with waste disposal, efficient use of resources (e.g. energy, water etc.), avoidance of cost associated with non compliance to legislations and reduction in insurance cost (Wikipedia, 2009)

Though benefits abound there still exist a number of limitations associated with the implementation of the Eco campus Environment Management system. The Glasgow Caledonian university website (2009) suggested some to include; it takes a long time to implement and monitor and it requires proper documentation, adequate training and good communication for it to be successful. In my own opinion other limitations will include the fact that it requires high level of commitment by the management for it to be successful and that it still requires human and financial resources though little compared to the full implementation of a standard Environmental Management system like ISO14001.


Glasgow Caledonian University was presented the bronze award by the Eco campus director in Bournemouth University on the 1st of July 2009 (Glasgow Caledonian university website, 2009) as an award for meeting up with the minimum criteria of the Eco campus project for the bronze phase. The reports found on the University’s website indicated the following achievements of the school to have warranted it the eco campus bronze awards.

  • The university showed senior management commitment to the Eco campus scheme by establishing an Eco campus team (comprising of; the Caledonian Environmental centre, School of built and natural environment, facilities management arm of the university, student association and the Caledonian environmental society students group) headed by Therese Fraser, to oversee the implementation of the Eco campus environmental management system. This team went ahead to produce the draft of the University’s environmental policy
  • The University carried out the environmental baseline review of more than five basic management areas exceeding by far the minimum requirement set out for the bronze phase. The management area include; waste management, environmental management systems, sustainable procurement, transport, health welfare and safety, environmental policy, energy and water, emissions and discharges, biodiversity and community involvement.
  • The university provided and is still appropriate environmental training for staff involved in the Eco campus programme.

The implication of this current status to attaining its target of ISO14001 certification is that the institution is still at the planning phase. It will have to move from that phase to the implementation phase which involves; identification of environmental aspects and legal requirements, setting objectives and target, establishing standard procedures towards achieving this targets/objectives, formalising the environmental policy and its implementation. And then continuously review and improve on policies and practices. But since the university is using a phased approach-Eco campus, it thus means that, it will have to pass through the silver, gold and platinum phases before thinking of getting the ISO14001 certification. The platinum award is an equivalent for ISO14001 standard. So reaching that platinum status will facilitate the easy acquisition of the ISO14001 certification.


Moving from the bronze phase to the silver phase involves meeting the criteria for the silver phases. The Eco campus audit criteria published in 2008 listed the criteria to include; identification of its significant environmental aspects, identification of legal and other requirements associated with these aspects, setting objectives and targets, producing a final copy of the environmental policy and communicating this policy to all relevant stake holders. So for the university to achieve the silver status the following practical steps have to be taken.

  • The university has to first thoroughly identify and document all the activities of the university that has significant impact on the environment
  • The second step is to identify and document all legal and other requirement associated with the above environmental aspects
  • The next step is to set up and document objectives and targets in relation to managing the environmental aspects
  • Using the information above, the university should produce a formal copy of its environmental policy which will be signed by the top management indicating the management commitment to the process
  • Lastly, the environmental policy should be adequately communicated to the staff, students and all other relevant stakeholders in the university community.



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