The world is urbanising at an unprecedented rate. Around 80% of the UK population lives in cities and around the globe people are flocking from rural to urban environments. This brings with it some of the great challenges of modern times. As increasing numbers of people move into cities more vehicles, resources and infrastructure are needed to support them, a major question is how cities can still remain green and liveable? Can this be done sustainably and with minimal environmental impact? With challenges around climate change, air quality, noise, biodiversity and aesthetics, is there space for urban biodiversity?
The UCL Sustainability team tackle some of these issues throughout our campus. Bringing together staff, students and UCL’s network of Green Champions, the team are able to drive forwards a sustainable strategy and vision for our campus whilst also encouraging academics and students to undertake valuable research on the UCL estate.
On June 10th three members of our team will be running guided tours around campus to showcase some of our work. Starting in the heart of campus we will discuss our Transforming UCL programme and how sustainability is deeply embedded in the on-going works around the estate. From renewable energy and water efficiency, to using FSC timber and reusing furniture, projects ranging from the New Student Centre to a simple bathroom fit-out are required to implement sustainability interventions. Next, we will discuss sustainable travel as we pass the UCL Logistics Zone and the new Camden Tavistock and Torrington cycle lanes. Both initiatives have improved cycling and pedestrian safety whilst helping to cut carbon emissions and reduce air pollution.
Lastly, the tour will visit Gordon Square and the Institute of Education roof garden to learn how we are driving UCL’s biodiversity action plan forward. Helping wildlife to make a home at UCL are a number of green initiatives such as green roofs - installed through the Transforming UCL Programme – and student led gardening and growing projects. See if you can spot some of these initiatives as you walk around campus, including the apple trees in Malet Place, and our swift nesting boxes and wildlife friendly planting. The UCL Conservation Society have taken to monitoring wildlife around Bloomsbury and have recorded over 30 bird species – remarkable given the urban nature of our site. Chief amongst the birds to see on campus are the local kestrels and peregrine falcons. Both breed nearby and are seen regularly. If you are lucky you may see one on the tour, perhaps feeding around our local green spaces – the kestrels are particularly fond of eating worms in our garden areas! Bringing wildlife into our campus, aside from benefiting biodiversity, can add a bit of extra intrigue to the day. Being able to stop and listen to a blackbird singing for a few minutes is a welcome break from the fast-paced city lifestyle.
So please join us in June to learn more, ask us questions and provide us with further suggestions. We look forward to many of you joining us.
The UCL Sustainability team
Remember you can join millions of others on Saturday 25th March to celebrate WWF Earth Hour from 20:30 pm. Turn off your lights, take a break from technology, light a candle and spend an hour celebrating our wonderful planet.