UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction


IRDR recognised for commitment to sustainability in recent award

18 September 2023

The IRDR has been awarded Silver in the recent Green Impact Awards.

UCL Green Impact Award logo

Green Impact is a United Nations award-winning programme designed to support environmentally and socially sustainable practice in organisations. Local teams of staff and students work together to learn about and lead on sustainability in a holistic way, including practical steps to improve environmental sustainability, embedding sustainability into the curriculum, enhancing the social fabric of institutions, and improving wellbeing.

The IRDR team, led by Dr Aeron O’Connor and Senior Operations Coordinator Afsana Begum, implemented a number of initiatives that improved not only the sustainability of the department but also the student, staff and visitor experience.

Dr O’Connor explained that making even small changes could have a big impact. “We're developing a low-energy strategy using smart meters to better insulate and regulate temperatures in our offices, which are situated in a Grade 2 listed building. For instance, instead of relying on fans and air conditioning, this summer we're encouraging staff to use blinds and open windows at strategic times of day and night to cool rooms down,” she said. 

The team also:
•    participated in the Big Easter and Christmas Switch-offs; 
•    ensured all copy paper was 100% recycled;
•    provided only vegetarian and vegan food at catered meetings and events;
•    eliminated all single-use plastics in the staff kitchen and catered departmental events; 
•    produced a regular IRDR Sustainability Newsletter to staff and students with useful tips and facts; and
•    included an environmental statement in job descriptions for all new hires.

“Having now done some of the foundational groundwork in IRDR's sustainability, hopefully we can push forward next year with more exciting initiatives and efforts,” Dr O'Connor said.

The Green Impact Award results were celebrated at the UCL Sustainability Awards, alongside other sustainability achievements. All winners were presented with wildflower-seeded certificates and cakes baked by Luminary Bakery, a social enterprise providing training, employment, and community to women in need.