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Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 4, 2010 | Go to article overview

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Byline: Elizabeth May

WELSH universities are becoming more sustainable; they are backing the Welsh Assembly's commitment to sustainable development by being run sustainably, managing resources well and providing knowledge, skills and expertise, so graduates can contribute to a greener, better and wealthier future for Wales.

Everybody seems to be talking about "sustainable development". The Assembly leads the way; it set out from its start to be sustainable.

The strongest argument for being sustainable is the economic one. Swansea Metropolitan University, for instance, has significantly reduced its use of energy by 14% in recent years, thus saving money, some of which has been reinvested for more environmental improvements.

We are currently installing a photovoltaic array which will power the university's Owen Library. Other projects, such as solar water heating and the use of grey water, are in progress.

We have reduced our water use; it is less than half the national university average, which has obvious economic advantages. Of course, this performance reduces our carbon footprint; whatever your belief about global climate change (and it is evident to me as a scientist that it is happening), fuel will become increasingly expensive, so heating and lighting will cost everyone more and more.

The university has a sustainable waste management contract in partnership with other local universities; recycling rates are about 50%. Wales is running out of holes to put its waste in, and it damages the environment and costs money to landfill our waste miles away.

Encouraging staff and students to travel sustainably has been more difficult. Working with others like the South West Wales Travel Consortium (SWWITCH), we have created sustainable travel maps and information, run competitions and introduced electronic car-sharing packages and car-sharing only parking spaces - all of which have been useful. …

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