Founded in 1840, the University of Winchester is a leading university in the UK offering study on a wide range of subjects – from arts and humanities, to business and education. It is home to around 7,800 undergraduate and postgraduate students.
The university, which is based in Hampshire, is founded on the core values of compassion, spirituality and that individuals matter. It aims to reflect this in all of its work, with sustainability and social justice taking a major role.
Triodos Bank has provided a £30m loan to fund a landmark new building at the University of Winchester’s West Downs Quarter. The finance will ensure that the development, which boasts cutting-edge sustainability features and will increase teaching space by 20%, will be completed for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Interview with Professor Joy Carter CBE DL, vice-chancellor:
What challenge was the inspiration for your project?
There was a two-fold challenge that we were looking to address with this new building. On a local level, we were looking to expand our Department of Digital Futures, which offers degree programmes that blend computer science with cutting-edge design. For this, we needed a state-of-the-art building to offer quality teaching space and meet technological demands.
The second challenge had a global focus. As a university that prides itself on being a beacon of sustainability and social justice, it was key that the new building embodied these values – we wanted the building to not just meet our education needs, but also lead the way in sustainability.
The University of Winchester wants to tackle the major challenge of climate change head on. We need to take positive action now, rather than sleepwalking into a global disaster – and the new building is a massive leap forward for us in making change happen now.
What was your innovation that addresses this problem?
Our solution was to commission a new eco-friendly building that addressed all our educational needs, while providing an inspirational community space.
The building is a highly innovative design and promises to achieve a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating once complete. It boasts a range of cutting-edge sustainability and efficiency features from heat recovery systems and solar photovoltaic panels, to rainwater harvesting and a green roof.
The building will also bring a range of social benefits for both students and local residents, with a multi-use space that features an art gallery, zero waste shop and vegan café.
We hope that these features will help us on our journey to eliminate single-use plastics at the university by 2022 and achieve environmental milestones. Sustainability is a way of life at Winchester and we aim to incorporate it in everything we do.
What impact has Triodos Bank had on your organisation?
The impact has been huge. We see Triodos Bank as one of the greenest banks in the world, and therefore it’s a joy and privilege to be affiliated with them.
For the university, it was important that when choosing partners for this project – everything from architect to bank – that we chose suppliers who understood the values behind it. In Triodos Bank we couldn’t ask for a better partner.
What impact has your organisation had on the sector you work in?
We want the University of Winchester to be a trailblazer in the higher education community and show that a values-driven approach to education is hugely effective.
For example, we are working with the National Union of Students’ Responsible Futures programme – an accreditation mark and supported change programme for a whole-institution approach to environmental sustainability and social responsibility.
Similarly, we were proud to be one of the first universities in the UK to become a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact ‘Principles for Responsible Management Education’ initiative (PRME). The aim of PRME is to develop a new generation of business leaders capable of managing the complex economic, environmental and social challenges faced by business in the 21st century.
We are now one of a select group of UN PRME Champion Business Schools in the world.
We hope that other universities may be inspired by both the research that we undertake and schemes that we’re a part of.
What impact has your organisation had on the community?
We are proud that Winchester students and staff have undertaken lots of work in the local community, with over 30,000 hours of volunteering time donated in the past year. We also welcome residents onto the campus to benefit from our facilities, as well as local schools and colleges.
We host a number of local groups, such as Winchester Action on Climate Change, a group based on the campus dedicated to combating climate change and inspiring sustainable living.
It’s not just the local area, however – we impact the global community through our research. We have a diverse range of research centres, including the Centre for Climate Change Education and Communication and the Centre for Animal Welfare. With all these projects, we look to reflect the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and work with the community to disseminate the findings.
How does Triodos Bank share your vision?
Triodos Bank shares our core values of compassion, spirituality and that individuals matter.
For us, compassion is caring for the whole planet and all life – we want our students to be empowered to change the world for the better, challenge convention with compassion and stand up for what they believe to be true. Triodos Bank, as a bank that only lends to organisations that benefit people and the environment, totally aligns with this.
Whilst we’re excited that the new building is the biggest project in the university’s history in terms of physical size and investment, we believe that its true value is much more than just monetary.
The project is even more valuable in that it’s an iconic milestone on the road to Winchester’s sustainability targets and a meaningful building that aligns with our values. Triodos Bank shares this vision that society should measure success on more than financials – looking at social and environmental outcomes too.