By Sadhbh Hendrick
NUI Galway took home the top prize at the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland’s (SEAI) 2019 awards, taking home the acclaimed Energy Team of the Year award.
Julie O’Neill, Chair of SEAI, said: “The SEAI Energy Awards celebrate the absolute best of Ireland’s sustainable energy achievements. They are a vivid demonstration of how Irish business, communities and public organisations are pushing the boundaries in energy efficiency and the switch to clean energy. The 134 plus entrants in this year’s Awards have made energy savings of €38 million. The continued efforts and outstanding ambition of this year’s finalists is to be commended”.
NUI Galway has set its sights on its campus being one of the greenest in the world.
The University impressed judges with their inclusive and long-term approach to energy management. As part of its strategy, the Energy Team ran initiatives and campaigns which encourage and provide tools to students and staff on how they can reduce energy use on campus and in their homes.
As part of its sustainability strategy, NUI Galway has created a Green Campus Charter, encouraging and providing tools to students and staff on how to reduce energy use on site and at home. The Galway team also gives ‘green’ recommendations on new technology being used on campus, to ensure alignment with their sustainability goals. Already at 36% energy reduction, NUI Galway continue to work towards their ambitious target of a 40% energy reduction by 2020.
NUI Galway are committed to reducing energy and carbon consumption in line with the Government Climate Action Plan 2030. The Energy Management System, developed by NUI Galway Energy Team, allows for independent verification and monitoring by SEAI of our energy and carbon reduction on campus. The Energy Team will continue to lead by example by implementing best practices in energy efficiency to meet the highest energy management standards and being at the forefront of sustainable development. The University aims to deliver on this commitment by promoting the concept of energy efficiency at all levels in the organisation from students and academics to administration staff and contractors.
Earlier this year, the University was awarded the internationally recognised Green Flag by An Taisce’s Green-Campus programme on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education. The SEAI award further demonstrates the University’s commitment to sustainability and its achievements to date.
Assistant Director of Estates Operations, Noel O’Connor, spoke of his delight at scooping the prestigious accolade, stating: “We are absolutely delighted to receive this award, it validates the hard work and dedication that the Energy Team has been putting in for many years. We all have a role to play in helping to build a sustainable society, and universities, in particular, have a responsibility to promote sustainability through leadership, education, knowledge exchange, research and corporate social responsibility. A sustainable campus is one which maintains a green and healthy environment, promotes the use of resources efficiently and instils in graduates and staff the importance of urgently tackling environmental challenges”.
A total of nine awards were presented to businesses, communities and public sector organisations, recognising their commitment and dedication to excellence in energy management and creating a cleaner energy future. The Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Energy went to Marie Donnelly. During a thirty-year career in the European Commission, Marie has been a leading advocate of policies and strategies to accelerate our energy transition. Another winner, Victory Luke received the Emerging Sustainability Champion award. Victory’s school had benefited from an SEAI community energy grant and that acted as the impetus for her to take up the climate action mantle.
Congratulating all the finalists and award winners, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton TD, said: “How we respond to the challenge of climate disruption will define us as a generation. These awards are a good opportunity to highlight those taking leadership and managing their energy use in a more sustainable way”.