Top Five Ireland Universities for Sustainability


The Best Ireland Universities for Sustainability

Last updated: 8 January 2024 Best Universities in Ireland

In recent years, there has been a growing global awareness of environmental challenges and the imperative to find solutions for the well-being of our planet. Several governmental and non-governmental bodies have been working to address these climate issues by adopting ways to save our planet. Many of these initiatives lead to sustainable growth, allowing the respective bodies to grow and solve environmental problems. In particular, universities have recognised sustainability as a crucial component of social responsibility.

The top-most universities in several countries are undertaking initiatives to impact the environment positively. These initiatives encompass specialized study options, educating students across various disciplines on the environment, and engaging in sustainability research. Additionally, many universities have introduced on-campus sustainable initiatives that serve as practical learning experiences for students right where they are gaining education.

As institutions worldwide do their best to save the planet, the QS World University Rankings: Sustainability 2024 have evaluated 1400 universities based on their ability to address environmental, social, and governance challenges. Among them are leading Irish universities that are positively impacting the world.

Learn more below, and if you want to study at a sustainable Ireland university, contact SI-Ireland for a free consultation today.

most sustainable universities ireland

Top Five Ireland Universities for Sustainability

1. University College Dublin

UCD is the largest Irish university, which is generally ranked among the best in many ranking systems at the global level. It is the top-ranked university in Ireland that is constantly improving sustainability throughout the campus.

UCD Global works on various sustainability initiatives to give students a more eco-friendly experience. They are given orientation workshops to help them understand how to recycle on campus and practice everyday eco-friendly habits. The university also publishes a UCD Global Green Guide that contains resources on sustainable travelling, living, transport and shopping in Dublin. The university also promotes the Green Eramus+ initiative by the EU Commission. UCD has also led several initiatives to reduce carbon emissions among the students and university staff.

2. University College Cork

UCC is generally considered Ireland's ‘Green University,’ it has been on the path to achieving sustainability goals for over a decade by ensuring that the teaching, learning, research, and operations are focused on creating a better world. The Office of Sustainability and Climate Action at the university has been at the forefront of making efforts to enhance the university’s reputation as an award-winning sustainability institution. The Green Campus Committee, established in 2007, and the Green Forum, operational since 2013, have been working to ensure that students and staff members work together to drive the university’s focus on sustainability. 

3. University of Galway

The University of Galway has considered sustainability as one of its core values for many years. It was also awarded the status of SDG Champion for 2023/24. Sustainability has now been enshrined in the Strategic Plan 2020-2025 of the university as one of the four values that drive everything done at the university, the others being respect, excellence and openness. The university is committed to being an exemplar of climate action through the research, teaching, engagement and actions that are done at the university. Several unique projects and initiatives take forward the university's commitment, such as the Use Your Mug, 2GoCup, Battle of the Buildings and Organic Waste Circular Economy Project. 

4. Dublin City University

Understanding the importance of sustainability to grow responsibly, Dublin City University has embedded the concept at the core of its functioning. The university promotes sustainability through its national and international engagements and has incorporated the principles in its teaching, learning, research, development and innovation. DCU has been working to meet the carbon-neutral challenge and has also introduced measures to combat climate change and biodiversity loss. DCU also actively works to take forward its commitment towards the Sustainable Development Goals as adopted by the United Nations. The university has the DCU Sustainability Charter, wherein resources are readily available for students and staff to find ways to live sustainably in and around the campus. 

5. University of Limerick 

The University of Limerick (UL) is among the best Irish universities that deeply understand the importance of saving our planet through different measures. The university works to protect the natural habitat of the campus by sourcing native species of bees and insects to be present within the ecosystem. Measures have been taken to ensure that all new buildings are energy efficient. This work is being done by the Buildings and Estate team at the university, which is also retrofitting older buildings to bring them up to the standard for today's sustainability. The university is particularly committed to adopting the practices that promote SDGs and has different departments and staff members working with students to ensure their efforts align with the SDGs. 

Study in Ireland

Do you want to study at a sustainable university in Ireland? Contact SI-Ireland today for a free consultation on your academic future.


Which Ireland college has the best sustainability programme?

University College Dublin has the best sustainability programme in Ireland. 

What are the challenges of sustainability in Ireland?

Ireland faces several sustainability challenges like many other countries, including environmental conservation, climate change, and resource management. The country is working toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions while transitioning to renewable energy sources to meet the overall climate action targets.

How is Ireland performing on the Sustainable Development Goals?

Ireland has made progress in addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by taking significant steps toward achieving goals related to clean energy, quality education, and gender equality. However, challenges persist in the climate action zone, where Ireland is trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet renewable energy targets.

What is the difference between sustainable development and sustainability?

Though sustainable development and sustainability are interconnected concepts, they have distinct focuses. Sustainable development basically refers to meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the overall ability of future generations to meet their developmental needs. It involves simultaneously achieving economic, social, and environmental goals while fostering long-term well-being. On the other hand, sustainability is a broader concept encompassing the capacity to endure and thrive over time. It extends beyond development and includes the responsible use of resources, environmental conservation, and social equity.

Universities featured in this article:

  • University College Dublin
  • University College Cork
  • University of Galway
  • Dublin City University
  • University of Limerick
Back to Study Guide

Increase your chances of success when applying

SI-Ireland specialises in selecting the right Irish university for international students by reviewing your academic background, discussing your career goals and helping you apply. Our application services can help you achieve your dream of studying in Ireland.

"My consultant was very helpful and motivating. She helped me every step of the way, even when the deadline was so close. I could not have done it without her. I'd recommend this service to anyone interested in taking the stress out of applying alone."

Brishti Basu Accounting and Finance, Trinity College Dublin

Brishti Basu

Leading Universities and SI-Ireland Partners