Brain Sciences


Meet our Faculty Lead Green Champion: John Draper

John Draper is Head of Administration in PALS and is Faculty Lead Green Champion. We spoke to him about his role and his passion for sustainability.

John Draper

Can you tell us about your role as Faculty Lead Green Champion, what does it involve?

The Faculty Lead Green Champion is a voluntary position for experienced members of staff who have completed the sustainability behaviour change programme Green Impact. Their role is to support departments to start their sustainability journey through participating in Green Impact. This includes:

  • Assisting departments in their faculty to set up new Green Teams
  • Answering Green Impact related queries to Green Champions in their faculty and forwarding sustainability queries onto Sustainability Communications Officer when unable to answer.
  • Managing a faculty Green Impact group initially via TEAMS or equivalent
  • Developing Faculty wide sustainability initiatives
  • Communicating to their Faculty that they are the Lead Green Champion and what the role entails.
  • Passing contacts onto Sustainability Labs Advisor if new staff members would like to join LEAF.

From a professional and personal standpoint, can you tell us why you are so passionate about sustainability and why you wanted to get involved in UCL’s greater sustainability initiative?

Climate change is the most important issue we have to deal with at the moment as it impacts upon all of us - we all have a responsibility to take better care of our planet and the environment. The current Covid-19 pandemic is but one example of where our impact has had a negative impact.  I’m not saying we all don environment hairshirts but we can make a positive contribution to reducing our carbon footprint; be it reduce our meat intake; taking less flights each year; raising awareness etc

What steps have those who work within PALS taken to embed sustainability practices within their day to day work?

Sustainability plays a major role in PALS, its included as part of the induction for staff and students, is a standing item at Staff Meetings, and is a regular topic of conversation and activity.  The PALS Green Impact Team is supported by Senior Management such that we have a high profile within the Division and regularly organise sustainability-themed events and initiatives. 

Currently we’re planning for our annual PALS Green Day as an online event, and have a number of exciting talks and interactive events lined up. 

As of 2020 PALS is now UCL’s Greenest Department for the 7th year in a row, picking up gold in the Green Impact Award categories and LEAF lab awards. What do you attribute PALS continued success to?

A great team of students and staff who are committed to promoting sustainability in PALS and beyond.  We encourage team members to pursue projects that are of interest to them and which will hopefully have a major impact.  We regularly meet up to discuss where we can improve and plan for the future.  We have also been on informative visits to the Eden project, foraging trip, and a visit to an eco-home featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs.

What sustainability achievements are you most proud of and what are your plans for this year when it comes to continual change and improvement?

There are many including the annual PALS Green Day which is a fun and informative event; helping to persuade UCL to divest from fossil fuels; our current attempt to walk to the moon to name a few.  However the most impactful has been the Powered by Plants initiative where all food provided at catered UCL PALS events will be 100% vegetarian.  This was launched in PALS in 2019 and was soon adopted by many other departments in UCL, psychology departments in the UK and even reached New Zealand culminating with the UCL Senior Management Team (SMT) announcement that their catering would be 100% vegetarian.

We have a number of plans for the upcoming year although there are two of particular significance.

PALS No-Fly Zone: We hope to introduce a No-Fly Zone which is a pledge to select the most carbon-efficient way of reaching your destination - ie flights would not be funded for travel to mainland UK and nearby Eurostar destinations (Paris, Belgium and Amsterdam). 

Stop the Press: Pull the Plug on PALS Printing: We will encourage our community to ditch their printer. The pandemic has shown us that printing is not always necessary and we aim to continue this when we physically return to working at UCL.