UCL News


UCL wins prestigious climate action award

25 March 2021

UCL has been named the winner of the Green Gown Award for Climate Action for our campaign to become a zero-carbon institution by 2030.

People sitting on a roof full of solar panels

Launched in October 2019, our Positive Climate initiative puts students and staff at the heart of reducing our carbon footprint with a sector leading commitment to sustainability.

As an energy and research-intensive university operating across 250 sites, the campaign aims to deliver a significant shift in the way we operate by combining a people-centric approach with data insights to empower staff and students to protect our planet.

Key elements of the campaign include a £10m investment to deliver zero carbon buildings by 2024, a plan for our university to be powered by 100% UCL owned renewable energy by 2030 and innovative programmes to tackle emissions.

UCL’s climate action programme is already set to deliver a reduction of 25,000 tonnes of CO2 per year by 2024. That is equivalent to planting 400,000 trees every year.

The success comes just months after UCL came top of the University Carbon League table, receiving a score of 95/100, the highest score out of 519 institutions in the UK.

Sustainability Director Richard Jackson (Sustainable UCL) said: “Our commitment to become a zero-carbon university has brought our whole community together to innovate and test out new ideas. From carbon pricing to sustainable laboratories, we're demonstrating how a fair and climate resilient university can operate.

“We're proud to be recognised by the Green Gown Awards and would like to thank the judges, organisers and sponsors for their fantastic work in raising the profile of the phenomenal work that higher education is doing to lead the way and support other sectors to achieve the dream of net zero by 2030.”

Established in 2004, the Green Gown Awards recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges across the world. With sustainability moving up the agenda, the awards have become established as the most prestigious recognition of best practice within the further and higher education sector.

Commenting on UCL’s submission, the judges said: “This is a truly innovative and inspiring project. Empowerment of staff and students through a people centric approach is to be applauded. Use of 100% UCL owned renewables target, together with a well-considered and clear scope of three reduction programmes, is integral to everything.

“This was a very comprehensive application with demonstrated results and partnerships, precisely outlined targets, solid reporting and accountability components and good dissemination strategy. Congratulations.”

Iain Patton, Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education CEO, added: "The Green Gown Awards occupy a very special place. They force us to ask what our institutions are doing well, and, of course, what they could be doing better. They raise the bar.

“Our Winners, Highly Commended and indeed all of our Finalists have shown the sector’s resilience and adaptability on how to collaborate to build back better and play a pivotal and leading role in tackling climate action, in even these most challenging of times. We hope that others will be inspired to take similar actions in their institutions to benefit staff, students and their local communities.”

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  • UCL Clean Energy Society Credit: UCL

Media contact

Jane Bolger

Tel: +44 (0)20 3108 9040

Email: j.bolger [at] ucl.ac.uk