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At Queen Margaret University, we have placed sustainability at the very core of our vision, taking a joined up approach to the social, environmental and economic dimensions of sustainable development.

Our holistic approach to achieving a lasting legacy of sustainable practice and thinking not only takes account of our immediate campus environment, but also extends to curriculum development and leadership training.

Sustainability is embedded in the everyday work of the University, led by the Principal and senior management team, and delivered through an innovative organisational structure where academics responsible for research and education take key decisions jointly with the team responsible for the physical environment.

Our new campus, recognised as an exemplar in sustainability within the higher education sector nationally and internationally, is a physical example of our commitment to sustainability and is the foundation upon which our vision and strategy continues to develop.

Our institution-wide approach to taking forward the sustainability agenda takes in:

  • Our sustainable new campus
  • Leadership
  • Learning

Our sustainable new campus

Situated on the east side of Edinburgh, by Musselburgh, our innovative new campus exceeds current environmental standards and sets a new benchmark in sustainable design. The development, which opened in 2007, transforms a 35-acre site at Craighall, East Lothian, from low grade farm land into landscaped parkland.

The building design maximises energy efficiency and the landscape design encourages biodiversity. Overall, the new campus building project is regarded as one of Scotland’s most sustainable – having gained a BREEAM* rating of “excellent” (the highest BREEAM score of any university in the UK).

The campus design is focussed on a simple low carbon, low energy passive design approach avoiding so called “green bling”. It has achieved the very highest sustainability awards and recognition without any impact on the cost of the build – one of the benefits of adopting an all round approach to going green.

A number of leading environmental technologies are being employed at the site including biomass heating , thin-client computer technology and a sustainable urban drainage system .

From the very outset, the new campus development was designed around the new agendas and technologies of higher education. We set out to “develop a sustainable community for learning and life”. The approach was to go beyond worthy statements that often fail to deliver, and to avoid sustainability gimmicks that often result in unnecessary building and maintenance costs.

We called on an independent sustainability consultant (Gaia ) to help us define the parameters of the sustainability project and to ensure that sustainability would be fully embraced throughout the design process. The design team were also selected on basis of sustainability experience.

Our approach to sustainability focused around:

  • using resources effectively
  • creating healthy environments
  • promoting biodiversity
  • managing the process
  • supporting communities
  • minimising pollution

Targets were set in achieving:

  • a low carbon footprint
  • biodiversity and a quality external environment
  • indoor air quality and daylight
  • green travel

Our approach to sustainability has resulted in strong performance statistics .

*What is BREAAM
For over a decade, the Building Research Establishment's Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) has been used to assess the environmental performance of both new and existing buildings. It is regarded by the UK's construction and property sectors as the measure of best practice in environmental design and management.


We recognise that outstanding leadership is crucial if we are to achieve lasting and widespread sustainability. We were an early signatory of the Universities and Colleges Climate Commitment for Scotland (UCCCFs ) and have developed a five year climate change action plan which targets substantive improvement over all functions of the institution related to sustainability. We have invested in dedicated sustainability training for all senior managers to extend the reach and impact of our sustainable practices over the long term. On campus, we host the Scottish office of the Environmental Association for University and Colleges ( EAUC).


 We have established a green curriculum working group which has introduced green courses to the curriculum in support of our strategy to create graduates versed in sustainable practice. Our ambition is that they then spread both practice and thinking as they progress throughout their careers and personal lives. Our specification for graduates attributes reflects this.

We share best practice with other institutions at home and abroad, contribute to various sector working groups and have become the campus of choice for those delivering “green” conferences. Conferences hosted at QMU include the Scotsman Conferences Can the Green Economy Deliver for Scotland? Event.

We believe that QMU will be held as an exemplar in sustainability for years to come because of our view that the delivery of a low carbon campus was not an end in itself, but just the first step towards becoming a truly sustainable institution.

 Waste Reduction

We are determined to reduce our waste, and increase our recycling, to this end we operate a waste reduction action plan.





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last modified 31/05/10 Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh EH21 6UU - Tel: +44 (0)131 474 0000
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