Sustainability

The Sustainability team here at the University of London work to bring staff and students across the University and federation together to tackle issues surrounding climate change and the environment.

The University manages a wide range of services, including student accommodation, Senate House Library and Student Central. It is of great importance to us that we continue to improve the environmental performance of our estate and operations while increasing positive action toward a sustainable future among our staff, students and visitors.

We also run Reduce the Juice, an ambitious behaviour change programme for halls of residence, which uses competitions and challenges to encourage students to save energy, save water and reduce waste.

Senate House
Bees at Senate House

Beehives on the roof

The roof of our Institute of Advanced Legal Studies building is home to four thriving beehives

Solar panels art Senate House

Targeting Zero Carbon

The University is working toward the aspirational target of reaching net zero operational carbon by 2036, the University’s 200th anniversary.

Senate House with grass in foreground

Reducing CO2 emissions

The University has reduced emissions by 51% against our 2010 baseline, through a range of measures right across the estate.

Cycling at University of London

Encouraging Sustainable Travel

University of London staff cycled over 5500 miles during 2017, saving over 1300 kg of CO2 emissions

Green space at University of London

Cultivating green spaces in our estate

We currently enjoy a variety of green spaces in the Bloomsbury area, including Gordon, Torrington and Woburn Squares.

Coffee beans

Supporting sustainable food produce

We recognise our responsibility to serve healthy, sustainable food and to carry out its procurement activities in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.

Recycling cans

Reducing the waste that we produce

The University is committed to reducing the total amount of waste produced at the University. We work with our staff, students, visitors and Procurement Team to achieve these reductions.

The Team

  • Matthew Wilkinson (Sustainability Manager)

    Matt leads the Sustainability Team and is responsible for the development and implementation of the University’s sustainability and carbon reduction strategies. He works with teams right across the organisation to ensure our buildings and operations are as sustainable as possible. A key focus of his work is driving down the University’s carbon emissions toward the ambitious aspirational target of achieving zero carbon by 2036.
     
  • Cat Acheson (Sustainability Engagement Officer)

    Cat is responsible for engaging students with sustainability issues, and driving behaviour change across the University of London and through our partnerships with other universities. Cat is the Project Lead for Reduce the Juice, an ambitious behaviour change programme for halls of residence, which uses competitions and challenges to encourage residents to save energy, save water and reduce waste. She also delivers a sustainability ambassador training programme, equipping students with the skills and knowledge they need to influence positive change at university and beyond.
     
  • Bethany Willan (Sustainability Projects Officer)

    Bethany is our Sustainability Projects Officer supporting the University on a wide range of projects and ensuring that sustainability is integrated throughout the organisation. Along with the responsibility of coordinating the University’s ISO 14001 audits and managing the Environmental Management System, Bethany also develops the University’s annual sustainability report. Bethany is currently working to quantify the University’s scope three carbon emissions. 
     
  • Ummar Kasujee (Master Plan Officer)

    Ummar works closely with the Space Team to identify and mitigate the environmental impacts of the University’s developments. Ummar’s focus is on the University’s public realm spaces and he is leading on the Greening Bloomsbury project. 
    Alongside the Strategic Projects Manager (Estates), Ummar works on various GIS and data projects across the department and is currently involved in the updates to the University of London Master Plan.

Our sustainability commitments

Zero Carbon

The University is working toward the aspirational target of reaching net zero operational carbon by 2036, the University’s 200th anniversary.

To develop our overall strategy, we hosted over 200 people from higher education, local government, architecture and design at Senate House in 2018.

 

We heard from London Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy Shirley Rodrigues and a number of leading Universities, architects, engineers and academics about some exemplar zero carbon projects and the challenges that they faced.

Following the event the University created the Zero Carbon Estates Handbook, bringing together all the learning from the day alongside the first draft of our zero carbon strategy. A copy of the handbook can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

Biodiversity

Here at the University of London, we aim to be leaders in the sector when it comes to having positive direct and indirect impacts on Biodiversity.

The roof of our Institute of Advanced Legal Studies building is home to four beehives which pollinate much of central London. Staff have the opportunity to get involved with our annual beekeeper training course, getting hands of with our hives, and having an introduction to the basics of beekeeping.

 


We are also working with our staff, students and grounds team to achieve recognition as a hedgehog friendly campus

Over the next few years, the University will start its journey to green Bloomsbury, aiming to Improve our green spaces and increase the number of green roofs, walls, gardens and insect hotels in the area. The university is excited to work with a wide variety of local residents and stakeholders on this project.

Reduce the Juice

Reduce the Juice is a sustainability engagement programme which started here at the University of London. Through face-to-face engagements, social media campaigns and live data sharing we encourage residents in student halls to save energy, save water and reduce waste.

 


Following the success in our own Intercollegiate Halls the project has continued to grow and we now run it in 46 student halls in five Universities across the UK.

As well as driving the short term savings the project strives to embed long term behaviour change through the network of Sustainability Ambassadors we train in all of the halls we work in.

If you would like to run Reduce the Juice on your campus or are a student looking to get involved please email sustainability@london.ac.uk.

 

Staff Champions

Staff from all over the University of London have been contributing to the University’s sustainability progress through our Sustainability Champions network.
 
Our Sustainability Champions network allows staff to come up with their own sustainability initiatives, help develop the University’s projects, and make their offices sustainable, rewarding places to work.

 


The Staff Champions Network will be re-launched in 2020, if you are currently a member of staff and would like to get involved, please email sustainability@london.ac.uk.

 

Food

The University of London, are responsible for the procurement and provision of catering services for a number of catering outlets, hospitality and halls of residence in the Bloomsbury area and some satellite sites.

 

Through staff, and student engagement, we have successfully managed to increase the uptake of sustainable food choices and increase awareness regarding the impacts of food and food waste.

We work closely with our suppliers to ensure our food is sourced locally where possible and ensure that seasonal menus are in place.

Food for life

Our catering has also received the Bronze Food for Life award from the Soil Association. We also ensure we use red tractor meat products, free range eggs and a wide range of fair trade products.

Travel

University of London staff have cycled over 5500 miles during 2017, saving over 1300 kg of CO2 emissions. Travel plays a key part in our sustainability strategy and we are placing focus our staff commutes, business travel and commercial and distribution mileage.

 

We can count on one hand the number of staff that drive into work, largely due to our excellent location, but also the excellent facilities, from secure cycle parking to modern shower facilities, within our estates to enable a larger uptake of cycling.
 
We are currently working on a Travel Plan for the University, setting clear targets to help reduce the impact the University has on the environment through its transport and travel.

A new survey will be launched in 2020 and the results used to drive informed change across our estate. We aim to increase the uptake of more sustainable modes of transport and work closely with local stakeholders to reduce the strain on the transport network caused by our staff, students and visitors.

Waste

Through a variety of initiatives, including the use of Warp-It, our Staff Champions and Reduce the Juice Project, we have increased our recycling rates from 52% in 2017 to 65% in 2020.

We are now setting the ambitious target of achieving a recycling rate of 80% and are also working with our waste contractors to set targets to reduce our total waste output.

 

Procurement and Supply Chain

Sustainable procurement is at the heart of the University’s approach to sustainability. Reducing the impact of the products and services used in our estates and facilities will enable us to reach our 2036 aspirational goal of becoming a net zero operational carbon University.

 

The University of London seeks to make sustainable procurement a leadership priority, effectively managing our supply chains and ensuring ethical considerations.

The Procurement Department highlights importance of sustainability to suppliers at tender stage and aims to arrange agreements that minimise our environmental impact.

Annual Sustainability Report

To celebrate the environmental achievements from right across the University, the Sustainability Team put together our annual sustainability report. The reports also make a great record of the University’s progress on achieving our environmental goals and targets to date.

Take a look back through the University’s historic Sustainability Reports to see the progress we have made:

Zero Carbon Estates Handbook

This document aims to tool up the UK & Ireland’s higher education professionals, to consider how to influence their universities on the drive toward zero carbon. It focuses on considerations for driving down universities’ carbon emissions through the built environment.