The University of Bath has launched the new Institute for Sustainability (IfS) to bring together multidisciplinary expertise in tackling the most pressing climate and sustainability issues facing society.
Led by leading sustainability academics Professors Matthew Davidson and Marcelle McManus, research at the Institute for Sustainability will be focused around two themes: Sustainable Chemical Technologies and Sustainable Systems.
The sustainable chemical technologies strand uses chemistry and chemical engineering to develop molecules, materials and manufacturing processes to enable a circular economy, where products and materials are repurposed or recycled after use instead of being discarded as waste. This includes research into developing renewable alternatives to petrochemicals used in materials, fuels and chemicals, and also developing high-performance materials that can be recycled or degraded at their end of life.
The ‘Sustainable Systems’ theme takes a whole-systems approach to measuring and embedding sustainability in decision-making.
This approach involves assessing the full environmental footprint of different products and activities, allowing researchers to predict what choices will lead to more sustainable outcomes in practice, and avoiding “burden shifting” or “green washing”, where one type of environmental impact is reduced but another increased.
The Institute is an evolution of the Centre for Sustainable and Circular Technologies (CSCT), which was founded in 2008 to train the next generation of chemists and chemical engineers in sustainable chemical technologies, and nurture research collaborations with industry that promote the circular economy and help the UK achieve net zero.
The Institute will work with industrial partners to apply its methods to develop sustainable products, and use its findings to inform policy, legislation and industrial practice.
Professor Matthew Davidson, Co-Director of the IfS, said: “We’re very excited to continue building on the research successes of the CSCT by establishing the new Institute.
“The IfS will bring together a unique range of technical expertise in fundamental and applied research in sustainability taking a whole systems approach.”
Professor Marcelle McManus, Co-Director of the IfS, said: “The new institute will apply interdisciplinarity across all University’s activities – education and training, fundamental and applied research, international collaboration, policy, public engagement and knowledge exchange activities.
“We look forward to working to create and provide solutions to some of these global challenges.”
The Institute was officially launched by Chair of Council at the University of Bath, Pam Chesters CBE on Tuesday 17 January at an event held on the campus in Claverton Down, Bath.
Vice-Chancellor and President of the University, Professor Ian White, said: “Establishing the new Institute for Sustainability at the University of Bath comes at a crucial moment in the global climate emergency.
“Building on the CSCT’s strong foundations, the Institute will be able to increase the reach and capacity of this vital work, using an interdisciplinary whole systems approach to help to drive the change needed to tackle the climate crisis.”
Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath, said: “With the environmental and ecological crisis being the overarching issue of today, a joint approach between sectors is absolutely essential to tackling them. That is why I am delighted that the Institute for Sustainability is launching a multi-disciplinary way forward to securing these sustainable practices.
“Professors Matthew Davidson, Marcelle McManus and everyone who contributed to the CSCT should be immensely proud of today’s launch. The new Institute is a shining example of what environmental innovation should look like. I wish you all the best of luck in this new endeavour and I will be watching eagerly for the next steps.”