Campaigns and News

Latest News

Winners of Christmas Switch Off Competition announced
Champions Programme named Environmental Project of the Year
May 2012: Green Awards 2012
'Step Up' for Fairtrade Cuppa

University rolls out Green Impact Scheme
School rides to victory in Cycle Challenge

Green Award Winners announced
Directorate launches 'Ban the Bin' Scheme
1m funding secured for sustainable energy research

McClay Library wins sustainable design award
Queen’s ‘hotshots’ use wood power to scoop global prize
Centre for Public Health staff and students get on their bikes
Green Week 2010 dates announced

January 2013: Winners of Christmas Switch Off Competition announced

The School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and the Finance Directorate have been named the winners of the Christmas Lo' Lo' Lo' Switch Off Competition.

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering managed to reduce its electricity consumption on Christmas Day by 50.12% with the Finance Directorate achieving a reduction of 53.17%.
As a result of the Switch Off Campaign, every Operating Unit achieved a reduction in consumption, giving the University its best Christmas Day performance in four years.
If Schools and Directorates maintained this level of reduction throughout the year, the University could save 830 tonnes of carbon or £191,609 – this would power the Ashby tower for around eight months.

To find out more about the competition, please click here.

September 2012: Champions Programme named Environmental Project of the Year

The University’s Environmental Champion Programme has been named the Environmental Project of the Year at the Sustainable Ireland Awards.

The programme, which has resulted in the implementation of over 800 environmental actions across the University, was praised by the judges for its engagement with all levels of staff.

Since the programme was launched over 100 staff have volunteered to act as Champions to raise awareness of environmental issues among colleagues and to promote positive behavioural change.

During the last year, the Champions have implemented hundreds of environmental ac  tions, covering waste, travel and energy, through the University’s participation in an environmental accreditation and reward scheme called Green Impact. They have been supported in their role by a range of awareness events, training sessions and regular sustainable communications, including an ezine, website and intranet site.

Environmental Champion in the School of Psychology Lynda Mahon, who collected the award along with Environmental Manager Sara Lynch, said: “In our School, the Environmental Champions programme has encouraged us to think about our impact on the environment and has motivated us to make small everyday changes which are making a real difference to the environmental performance of our School and the University.  The initiative has been an exciting challenge and I look forward to the next step in Queen’s sustainable programme.”

If you would like to get involved in the Environmental Champions programme or would like further information on what it involves, please contact

Green Awards 2012

Find out about the winners of this year's Green Awards by clicking here.

March 2012: Climate Week

Climate Week runs from 12-18 March. The Week is a national climate change campaign aimed at inspiring action to create a sustainable future.

There are a number of events taking place at Queen's during the Week, including:

  • Tuesday 13 March: Composting demonstrations and edible seed planting – The Green Machine, from 10.00am to 11.30am at the entrance to MBC and 12.00pm to 2.30pm outside the McClay Library.  Conservation Volunteers will be answering questions and demonstrating how to produce quality compost from green waste at home. Free seeds such as chilli, parsley and rocket lettuce will be planted to take home with you. Composter and compost books will be raffled.
  • Tuesday 13 March: Cycle Clinic - McConvey Cycles will be offering students and staff bike maintenance advice. Students and staff can bring their bikes to the clinic and receive minor servicing free of charge. The clinic will be located at the front entrance to the MBC from 12.00pm to 2.00pm.
  • Tuesday and Friday: Organic market stall in the foyer of the Students' Union.
  • Events are also taking place in the Elms, including a clothes swap and 70s clothes restyle event

February 2012: 'Step Up' for Fairtrade Cuppa

Queen's Fairtrade Steering Group invites you to support Fairtrade Fortnight (27 February - 11 March 2012) by attending the University’s annual Fairtrade coffee morning which will take place in the Canada Room on Monday 27 February, 10.00am - 11.00am. Fairtrade tea, coffee and chocolate-dipped shortbread will be served.

Dr Christopher Stange, Chairman of the Belfast Fairtrade Committee and Honorary Consul of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in Northern Ireland, will speak at the event about Belfast as a Fairtrade City as well as his own personal experience of working on projects in developing countries.

The theme of this year‘s Fairtrade Fortnight is ‘Take a Step in 2012 for Fairtrade’.  And taking a step couldn’t be easier – why not use the office tea kitty to buy a Fairtrade product?  Staff from the Students’ Union Shop will be on hand at the coffee morning with a selection of Fairtrade stock and they can arrange your office’s order for tea, coffee, sugar, chocolate - even olive oil!  Payment can be made in cash or by using the staff card easy-pay option. 

‘Take a Step’ on 27 February and support Queen’s commitment to Fairtrade.

November 2011: Areas sign up for Green Impact Scheme

Almost 20 areas have now signed up to take part in this year's Green Impact Scheme.  The Scheme, which is delivered by the National Union of Students, will build on the Environmental Champion programme.

As part of the Scheme, Green Teams in participating areas need to complete an online workbook containing a number of environmental actions. Points are awarded for each action and a gold, silver or bronze accreditation given.

Areas already signed up include:
- History and Anthropology
- Education
- Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology
- Psychology
- Biological Sciences
- Estates
- Registrar's Office
- Accommodation and Hospitality

Head of School Professor Peter Gray (centre)and Cr Chris Marsh collect the award from the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer

June 2011: History and Anthropology rides to victory in Cycle Challenge

The School of History and Anthropology has won this year's University Cycle Challenge. 

Over 50 members of staff from across the University competed in the challenge to see which School or Directorate could get the most members of staff to cycle to work from Monday 9 May to Friday 24 June 2011. Generating over 115 cycling commuter journeys, the challenge was open to experienced cyclists, beginners and those who wanted to re-discover the joys of cycling.

Seven members of staff within the School of History and Anthropology registered commuter journeys during the challenge.

A special mention must be given to Dr Luc Rock from the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering who logged 26 commuting journeys and to Samantha Stewart from the Students’ Union who registered as a cycling beginner and logged six journeys throughout the Cycle Challenge.


June 2011: Green Award Winners Announced

The efforts made by staff in helping the University to improve its environmental performance and reduce its carbon emissions were celebrated at the inaugural Green Awards Ceremony. Find out the winners by clicking here.

Environmental Champions Irene Smith(L) and Isobel Bell

February 2011: Directorate launches 'Ban the Bin' Scheme

The Estates Directorate based in the Administration Building has launched its ‘Ban the Bin’ scheme with the aim of increasing recycling and raising awareness of the need to reduce waste.

As part of the scheme, office bins have been removed and staff now have to put their waste into nearby paper recycling, plastic and aluminium can recycling and general waste bins.

Feedback from the scheme has been positive with the cleaners reporting a significant increase in the amount of recyclable waste gathered from the Estates Directorate. The Environmental Champions in the Elms Village are now rolling out a similar scheme in their offices.

Isobel Bell and Irene Smith are the Environmental Champions in the Estates Directorate. Over 80 members of staff are now participating in the Environmental Champions Programme which is part of the University’s commitment to reduce its carbon emissions by 21 per cent by 2020. The Champions have volunteered from areas across the University.

If you would like to join colleagues and become an Environmental Champion, visit

For further details, or if you would like more information on the ‘Ban the Bin’ scheme, email Sara Lynch on

Dr Wen-Feng Lin

December 2010: £1m funding secured for sustainable energy research

Queen’s research into sustainable energy has received a boost thanks to two major EPSRC grant awards totalling over £1 million.

The grants, worth over £500,000 each, have been awarded to Dr Wen-Feng Lin and his colleagues Professors Chris Hardacre and Peijun Hu in CenTACat within the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, for the research work on fuel cells.
Electrochemical devices that convert a source fuel into electricity, fuel cells have a number of applications ranging from transportation and telecommunications to wastewater treatment plants and portable power.

Dr Lin’s research focuses on the use of renewable energy source as a fuel for the fuel cells which will decrease the reliance on fossil fuels for power generation.

Dr Lin’s first EPSRC grant was awarded last year for a research collaboration between Queen’s and Jonson Matthey Technology Centre on bioethanol fuel cell - a form of renewable energy produced from agricultural feedstocks.  The latest is for a UK-China joint project between Queen’s and the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP) to investigate the use of low cost high performance biofuel/biofeedstock fuel cells as a clean sustainable energy technology.

Dr Lin said: “This joint project is an ambitious and timely response to the challenges faced by society in the 21st century in terms of efficient energy utilisation. It will be a challenging project, but one which will enable both teams to establish a long-term win-win partnership to work together on clean sustainable energy technology, the potential impact of which is enormous.”

Head of the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Professor Chris Hardacre said: “I would like to congratulate Dr Lin on this latest grant award. Since joining Queen’s in January 2009, he has been instrumental in attracting over £1 million of funding and has successfully established a fuel cell group within CenTACat in the School. He is the driving force in our ambition to become the principal fuel cell centre in the UK and globally.”

The fuel cell group headed by Dr Lin, collaborating internationally with both industry and academe, now boasts two postdoctoral research fellows, five PhD researchers/postgraduates, one MSc and two project students. The joint project with DICP will see another postdoctoral research fellow and two PhDs recruited to the group.

Dr Lin, who joined Queen’s in January 2009,was previously a senior research fellow in Newcastle. He has over 15 years experience and produced over 100 publications. His top three papers on fuel cell electro-catalysis research have 400 citations.

October 2010: ‘Exceptional’ McClay Library wins global award

The McClay Library at Queen’s has won a global award for its role as a model of sustainable design.

At the Grand Final of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Awards in the Guildhall in London, the McClay Library won the Sustainability category, defeating prestigious property projects from around the world.

More than 450 building projects entered the RICS Awards which are regarded as the ‘Oscars’ of the built and natural environment. The McClay Library was one of only four category winners.

Queen’s Director of Estates Gary Jebb, who received the award from Michael Portillo, said: “The McClay Library reflects the University’s commitment to scholarship, the environment, and the future. Sustainability was a critical factor in its design and construction, in keeping with the University's environmental policy, and we are obviously delighted that this has been recognised by the RICS.”

The Awards’ Sustainability Judge, Jim Ure, described the library as “an invaluable resource for students at Queen’s University Belfast.”

He said: “The building achieves excellence on two fronts: in terms of providing essential educational support, and through its distinction in sustainability. On both counts, it is an exceptional project.”

RICS Northern Ireland Director, Ben Collins, paid tribute to the project team. He said: “This project illustrates the capacity of chartered surveyors and other building professionals in Northern Ireland to have a hugely positive impact in economic and social terms. When resources are tight, it is more important than ever to ensure that buildings are as efficient as possible and provide maximum benefit to communities.”

The building was designed by Boston-based architects Shepley Bulfinch. The design aimed to reduce energy loads and provide energy input as efficiently as possible. Energy, fuel and water consumption is recorded and reviewed against targets on a quarterly basis. During the design and specification process, environmentally-friendly materials were selected, all of which can be refurbished or recycled after use.


September 2010: Queen’s ‘hotshots’ use wood power to scoop global prize

Three ‘hotshot’ graduate engineers from Queen’s University, who developed an innovative patio heater aimed at reducing harmful carbon emissions, have won first prize in a global entrepreneurship competition.

Vincent Murray from Ballygowan, David Crudden from south Belfast, and Colm Connolly from Clones in Co. Monaghan, scooped the $25,000 first prize in the VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Business Challenge in Virginia in the United States.

Collectively known as My Ecosy the trio, who graduated from Queen’s with degrees in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering degrees this summer, impressed the judges with their Ecosy heater, which is fuelled by renewable wood pellets.

The product provides users with reduced operation costs, increased product mobility and a significantly lower carbon output when compared to current gas or electric patio heaters. The initial proof of concept prototype was created by a previous team of students and was further developed and enhanced by this group of students as their final year project.

Vincent Murray, who is also Queen’s Student of the Year 2010, said: “We knew we had a good product and a strong business case, but we were up against teams from across the world, and the standard of competition was really high, so we were both delighted and rather shocked when we won.”

The VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Business Concept Challenge, which celebrates the energy and ingenuity of university students, is just the latest accolade for the team.

Earlier this year the team won the top prize in Queen’s annual ‘What’s the Big Idea?’ competition, before going on to win the Royal Academy of Engineering Innovation Hothouse Award for Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Vincent said: “Winning the ‘What’s the Big Idea?’ competition really spurred us on and gave us the confidence to believe in our product and business plan. It can sometimes be daunting for a group of non-business students to take on a cash flow forecast or to devise a marketing strategy, but with support from staff at Queen’s we were able to do so.”

The team received sponsorship to participate in the business challenge from VT KnowledgeWorks, Allegheny Brokerage Company Inc. and Queen’s.

For more information about Ecosy, visit  

L-R: Professor Liam Murray, Maria Camarena Polache, Georgie Holmes and Professor Frank Kee

September 2010: Centre for Public Health staff and students get on their bikes

Staff and students in the Centre for Public Health are doing their bit for the environment and their health by getting on their bikes.

The Centre in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, based at the Royal Victoria Hospital site, recently took delivery of two new state-of-the-art folding bicycles which can be used by all staff and students in the Centre on their travels around the City of Belfast on university business; helping users to stay fit and healthy.

With security in mind, the bikes can be simply folded down and carried into meeting rooms. With parking around many university buildings at a premium, this innovative way of commuting will help colleagues to avoid the stress of searching for that last remaining parking spot.

Regular cycling has many benefits – including improved health and reduced carbon emissions. This makes it good for the cyclist and good for our environment. The Centre for Public health is involved in significant research into cycling and physical activity promotion. One example is the PARC Study (, an evaluation of the health benefits of 19km of new cycle and footpaths in the new Connswater Community Greenway in East Belfast.