Northampton College’s outstanding green credentials earn national award

Posted 5th December 2023

Northampton College has seen off stiff competition from top UK universities to be crowned Sustainability Institution of the Year at a prestigious national awards ceremony.

The College took the title at the 19th UK & Ireland Green Gown Awards held in Liverpool on Thursday, November 30 and celebrated innovative and change-making sustainability projects by universities and colleges that are leading the way in creating a greener future.

Pat Brennan-Barrett, principal of Northampton College, said: “Winning a Green Gown award is one of our proudest achievements because sustainability runs through everything we do at Northampton College.

“Going Green has reaped incredible environmental and financial benefits for us and expanded our students’ skills dramatically, giving them an important edge as they embark on their careers.

“We are thrilled that the judges recognised this particularly as we faced stiff competition in the final from incredible institutions such as the University of Oxford.”

All three of Northampton College’s campuses in Northampton and Daventry are sustainable and generate a low carbon footprint and during the past few years the organisation has introduced a wide range of innovative green activities including:

  • Launching the Big Switch Off campaign which has resulted in a 22 per cent reduction in its electricity use
  • Installing a green sedum room and photovoltaic panels
  • Committing to send no waste to landfill
  • Introducing a bus pass bursary scheme for students, secure on-site cycle points and electric vehicle charging points
  • Separating all food waste from the College’s kitchens so it can be used as biofuel
  • Creating gardens and a protected conservation area
  • Fully recycling all the College’s waste metals
  • Replacing single use plastic water bottles with reusable bottles in College canteens
  • Providing hundreds of paper recycling points.

The College also runs a wide range of initiatives to promote the green agenda among its staff, students and the wider community.

This includes the launch of the Supporting Sustainable Futures programme for school children in Northamptonshire and its annual Big Rig STEM Challenge – a low carbon challenge for Year 10 and 11 students.

Hundreds of the College’s own Construction students are also involved in the design and construction of its new eco-classroom. The project is giving its students the chance to work with sustainable construction industry experts and teaching them sustainable construction skills above and beyond their course requirements.

The College’s leadership also expects every curriculum area to embed sustainability elements in the delivery of their courses and staff and students are encouraged to get involved with its green activities through a wide-ranging marketing campaign across its campuses.

Charlotte Bonner, chief executive of EAUC, who deliver the Green Gown Awards said: “Northampton College is helping their learners and community develop an understanding of sustainability and learn behaviours which will stay with them for life.

“The judges were impressed by the quantity and breadth of activities they’re doing. The whole-organisation approach demonstrates solid executive leadership which also empowers and meaningfully responds to the student voice in relation to sustainability. The enthusiasm of the College for sustainability action jumped off the page but more impressively was backed by evidence of their commitment and the impacts they’ve seen to date.

“The judges were impressed by work that spanned decarbonisation, education for sustainable development across a broad range of subject areas reaching thousands of learners and creating more social equity.

“Their work is supporting the economic prosperity of their local region and is definitely transferable across the FE and training sector. We’re delighted to recognise their leadership.”

Northampton College, along with fellow joint winner University of the West of England, Bristol, will now automatically go through as finalists for the International Green Gown Awards taking place in July 2024.

To learn more about the Green Gown Awards, visit

For more information about Northampton College visit