Sustainable NUI Galway

pr78929_[1]_Daisies in front of EngineeringBuilding

As a prospective student, you might like to know about sustainability at NUI Galway. 

First things first … what exactly does sustainability mean? Sustainability means lots of different things to different people. Ask ten people to define sustainability and you will get 20 different definitions.  Simply put sustainability is the ‘ability’ of something to ‘sustain’ itself; more elaborately, sustainability can be described as ‘the capacity of a system to preserve and maintain itself into the future’.

‘Environment’ is often implicit in the term sustainability because of the environment’s ability to sustain, for example, our clean air, our climate, our ecosystems, etc. However the term sustainability encompasses much more than a consideration of the environment, because sustainability takes into consideration that a society develops within the environment and an economy develops within that society.  The crux of the matter is—sustainability is about environment, society and economy and when a system is ‘sustainable’ that means it is good for the environment, good for society, good for the economy and not just right now, but long term into the future.

In summary, sustainability creates and sustains the conditions under which humanity and nature can exist in harmony. Sustainability means that we are living within the carrying capacity of the natural environment, Sustainability permits fulfilling social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.

This animation explains sustainability succinctly.

Why is sustainability important?

Sustainability is an opportunity to solve the urgent environmental, economic and social problems facing the world today.  It is at the heart of a global agenda—the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This is a shared global vision to address the urgent challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice.

At the core of the Agenda is the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs, below, are a set of 17 global goals adopted by 193 world leaders in 2015. Find out more about the SDGs here.SDGs

What does sustainability mean at NUI Galway?

At NUI Galway our vision of sustainability is to establish the university as a top-class, green, smart and healthy campus and to develop our graduates as future sustainability leaders in Ireland and globally. Want to learn more? Check out our Sustainability Strategy here.


And read about the Sustainability Pillar of the NUI Galway Strategic Plan 2020–2025 here.

How is NUI Galway achieving its sustainability vision?

At NUI Galway our Learn-Live-Lead approach to sustainability places students at the heart of the sustainability journey. The aim with learn is to embed learning about sustainability into all aspects of university practice, learning, and research so that our students gain the knowledge and skills necessary to foster and demonstrate sustainable thinking and decision-making even after graduation. The aim with live is to implement the principles of sustainability through campus operations, so that graduates understand the importance of sustainable living in all aspects of their lives and value their connection to the physical environment, ecosystems and biodiversity. The focus of lead is on graduating students who are societally aware and valued for their world readiness. This is achieved by developing the campus as a role model for sustainability and fostering partnerships between university and community that promotes greater civic engagement among our students.

biodiversity trailCheck out our Biodiversity Trail.

How can you become more sustainable during your time at NUI Galway?

  • Chose a sustainability-themed course. At NUI Galway we take seriously our role in developing the next generation of students for tackling society’s evolving sustainable development challenges. Sustainability is embedded across the academic curriculum, in fact sustainability is taught across disciplines in all colleges at NUI Galway and there are numerous sustainability themed postgraduate courses to choose from: for example, see those on on offer by our School of Natural Sciences.
  • Chose a sustainability-themed research area. Our NUI Galway researchers are working to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges; our research portfolio includes internationally funded projects exploring Issues ranging from socio-economic sustainable consumption research to engineering new marine renewable technologies that are socially and economically viable while safe guarding environmental resources and ecosystem services. We have a global reputation for med tech, marine and environmental research, data analytics, culture and creativity. From a research lab perspective the first Green Labs certified lab in Europe is based at NUI Galway.
  • Join a sustainability-themed society. There are over 100 active societies at NUI Galway including many sustainability themed societies. From Environmental Society, Botany Society and Enactus Society to Bike Gang Society, Energy Society, Organic Gardening and Marine Society, the list is endless.
  • Volunteer with a sustainability-themed organisation as part of the ALIVE volunteering programme. A great way enrich your personal development and employability skills, have some fun and give back to the community. Nothing is more sustainable than giving back!
  • Participate in the work of the Community University Sustainability Partnership (CUSP). CUSP is a multi-disciplinary team of over 30 students and staff tasked with leading implementation of the sustainability vision in the university.  CUSP recognises that students play a vital role in establishing a sustainable university as key developers and drivers of change.  CUSP
  • provides students with meaningful opportunities to contribute to sustainability work on campus and ensures that the student voice is central on the sustainability journey.
  • Learn how to live more sustainably during your time at NUI Galway Campus initiatives to promote sustainable living including:- drinking water fountains located across the university campus; vegan choices on our menus; discounts for using reusable coffee cups; fair trade tea and coffee options;  active transport initiatives including bike share scheme, park and ride shuttle bus, upgraded cycling facilities and pedestrian footpaths;  electric car charging points dotted across the campus; on campus biodiversity trail, subscribing to pollinator friendly planning, encouraging outdoor classrooms and emphasis on reducing energy use in our building through a range of measures including combined heat and power plant, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic panels, air to water heat pumps the introduction of biomass boilers and the implementation of LED high efficient


In conclusion: be part of an exciting journey.  NUI Galway is a Green- Campus Ireland Awarded Site. We have a green flag waving proudly on our grounds acknowledging the many years of hard work undertaken to promote best practice in sustainability across key areas including energy waste travel biodiversity and water. Globally The Times Higher Education Societal Impact Rankings rank NUI Galway tenth in the world for addressing the UN SDGs for research on life below water and support for aquatic ecosystems. We are committed to sustainability at an institutional level. Sustainability is one of four core pillars in our Strategic Plan. We are a signatory to the SDG Accord (see signing, by our university President, above). Our university is an ideal place to learn, live, and lead sustainability.

More information:
Follow @NUIGsustain on Twitter, check out the NUI Galway sustainability website, and read our Annual Sustainability Report here.

Postgraduate Studies at NUI Galway
Apply online here

NUI Galway is one of Ireland’s top universities for graduate employability. 96% of our undergraduates and 94% of postgraduate students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating. Career prospects are excellent for NUI Galway graduates both in terms of an exceptionally high employment rate upon graduation and in terms of career progression.