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Departmental Responsibilities

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UCL is committed to an externally certified certificate of environmental management. In practice this means that the department may be required to show an auditor how it is meeting the above responsibilities including compliance with legislation, and provide documentation to support this.  As the environmental certification is UCL-wide, failure for an individual department to comply may result in the whole of UCL not achieving the high standards of environmental certification that we aim for.

The UCL Environmental Sustainability (ES) team have compiled a checklist of ways a department can achieve this. These are also reflected, with supporting templates in the UCL Green Impact programme workbook which is recommended to departments as a simple and effective means of showing its responsibilities are met. If this is not used, the onus is on the department to establish appropriate evidence. 


Head of Department's environmental responsibilities

The new Head of Department responsibilities are defined in the UCL Academic Manual as follows:

10 Safety and Environmental Sustainability 

10.1 The Head of Department will demonstrate commitment to UCL's published Health and Safety and Environmental Sustainability Policies by making, recording and ensuring the implementation of arrangements to meet the policies and associated UCL requirements. 

10.2 The Head of Department will be required to set out and record a summary of the Department’s priorities for improvement action in the current year which will reflect the outcomes from their annual review as well as the overall UCL Safety Objectives and Environmental Sustainability Strategy. 

10.3 The Head of Department will ensure that their organisation is adequate to ensure that the departmental arrangements will be implemented to meet UCL requirements for Safety and Environmental Sustainability. 

10.4 The Head of Department will be required to appoint a Departmental Safety Officer, a Departmental Environment Officer and other Nominated Persons specified by UCL Policy and requirements. (These Officers and Nominated Persons must be competent to advise the Head of Department of the arrangements within the Department which are necessary to discharge adequately the Head of Department's responsibilities.)

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Departmental Environmental Responsibilities 

Heads of Department, with support from their Departmental Environment Officer and/or Green Champions, now have a responsibility to:

1. Identify main team activities and associated environmental impacts/risks and identify priorities for improvement. It may help to consider your departments use of chemicals, fuel, oil, water, energy, what you buy and what you throw away

  • You may be required to show evidence of how you have identified these priorities
  • Ensure that arrangements are in place to manage environmental impacts/risks 
  • This might be in the form of procedures or roles and responsibilities for example

2. Record your environmental management arrangements on your departmental website i.e. name and contact details of the assigned Environment Officer, team and/or committee, key procedures

  • The ES team will check this website to check that such arrangements are in place when planning annual departmental audits

3. Ensure that a member of the department includes sustainability at new staff/student inductions (ideally this would form part of the Head of Department talk)

  • The ES team can support you if you are unsure what to cover
  • This could be a departmental walk around for new staff, pointing out risks and opportunities, recycling facilities etc
  • For students (and staff), you could direct them to the Green Awareness UCL course on Moodle

4. Ensure that sustainability is discussed as a team, either by adding to team/departmental meeting agenda as a standing item, or incorporating into other areas of discussion, or by having a dedicated meeting or committee


Green Champion / Departmental Environment Officer Roles

Until now, many UCL departments have had voluntary Green Champions. Green Champions play a vital role in encouraging and supporting best practice in the department.

Changes have been made to the Academic Manual and Departments are now required to have a Departmental Environment Officer to support them in addressing environmental risks from departmental activities, in a similar way to the Health and Safety Officer.

It is stressed that the environmental responsibilities listed are the responsibility of the Head of Department and the DEO is a support role rather than assuming delegated responsibility.

The Green Champion and DEO for the department might be the same person, or they might be different. While there will be one DEO, there is no limit to how many Green Champions a department may have. Both are important roles.


Environment Officer Role

The Environment Officer supports the Head of Department to ensure regulatory compliance within the department. This includes compliance with legal and other requirements, and UCL policies and standards although ultimate responsibility for compliance lies with the Head of Department.

The Environment Officer will play a significant support role to the Head of Department in delivering required arrangements within the department, ensuring staff competency to avoid negative environmental impact. This includes supporting the Head of Department to develop controls such as procedures for operations where there is significant environmental risk.

The Environment Officer will act as a liaison between the department and the UCL Environmental Sustainability Team and also has a role in monitoring and improvement in environmental performance. These duties can be supported by the Green Champion / Green Team and are outlined below.

Where there is no Green Champion / Green Team in place, this role would be included in the Environment Officer duties.





5. Ensure that you are aware of the environmental legislation applicable to your department and that you are complying with it

6. Conduct an annual management review of arrangements for environment, including risk management and performance

  • Green Impact can be a useful tool to do this or a departmental audit can be arranged with the ES team
  • Look at the procedures you have in place and consider if they are effective
  • Review your performance in key areas and see if you can target improvement – this gives you a focused initiative for the next year

Further information

Training will be made available via Green UCL relevant to your role. For students (and staff), there is also the Green Awareness UCL course on Moodle as a good background.

A dedicated role in the department (Green Champion or DEO – see above) should act as the central point of contact between the ES team and the department, including the co-ordination of Green Team/Green Champions where appropriate. They will notify the ES team if responsibility for environment is changing within the department

Although the above duties are the responsibility of the Head of Department, they will be supported by the Departmental Environment Officer where deemed appropriate.   

Download the information on this page about Environmental Roles, Responsibilities and Checklists (Word doc).