Sustainable Development Goals


UCL sets ambitious target to be net zero carbon by 2030

The university has set an ambitious goal to have net zero carbon buildings by 2024, and to be a net zero carbon institution by 2030.

Image of photovoltaic panels

10 November 2022

A programme of activities across UCL is helping the university achieve its plans to be net zero carbon by 2030.

As part of its 2019–24 Sustainability Strategy, UCL has committed to be net zero carbon for its building energy use by 2024 and net zero carbon as an institution by 2030.

The multi-pronged effort will include changing behaviours, from reviewing whether buildings need heating/cooling 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to encouraging the use of videoconferencing to reduce the need to travel.

“There are also lots of ways we can make smarter use of our buildings and equipment,” says Ciaran Jebb (Sustainable UCL). “This includes reducing the need to heat and cool whole buildings by optimising or consolidating activities; buying fewer and lower carbon products; improving controls for heating and cooling to reduce wastage; and repairing and sharing equipment.”

The university will increase uptake of its LEAF sustainable laboratory programme, which provides a framework for reducing carbon emissions.

“Our commitment to become a zero-carbon university has brought our whole community together to innovate and test out new ideas.”

The university will be investing in zero carbon infrastructure. It already generates 120,000kWh a year from 600m2 of solar panels and has identified space for a further 3,000m2 of additional panels. UCL will upgrade its district energy network to a zero carbon energy network. The network generates electricity, but also uses the heat generated in the process to provide heating and hot water to UCL’s buildings, rather than it being wasted.

“Our commitment to become a zero-carbon university has brought our whole community together to innovate and test out new ideas,” adds Ciaran.

UCL is also making efforts to reduce emissions from staff and student commuting by 55% by 2030, although this this does not currently form part of UCL’s reportable emissions. The university is implementing a new travel policy that requires users to take the most carbon efficient mode of travel. A new travel booking service provides easier international rail connections and a new travel policy requires all UK journeys under six hours to be made by train.


Related links

> UCL's Zero Carbon Plan