Sustainable UCL


My first year as a Graduate Sustainability Consultant

Hear from Laura Thrower, Greengage Environmental.

Laura- Greengage

8 November 2023

Since early in secondary school, Geography has been my passion due to its diverse and holistic nature. I studied BSc (Hons) Geography at the University of Exeter, where my interest in environmental sustainability grew. I followed my undergraduate degree by studying MSc Climate Change at University College London. This course expanded my knowledge of the physical mechanisms and impacts of climate change, along with developing my understanding of strategies that are being implemented within the built environment to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate. Following my graduation, I have begun my career as a Graduate Sustainability Consultant.

From school to university, I undertook various work experience placements including at top property developers, British Land and The Crown Estate. These placements enabled me to gain first-hand insight into real-life case studies of approaches that incorporate sustainability into the built environment. These placements have driven my enthusiasm for a career in sustainability as well as made my CV more extensive, thus more impressive to employers and created engaging discussions during job interviews. Furthermore, these experiences have enabled me to acquire contacts in the sector.

These contacts provided me with useful advice and were helpful when finding employment after university. It is evident to me that networking and expanding your circle of contacts is extremely valuable, such as through work experience or attending events held by industries, for example, the UK Green Building Council, or events organised by societies within your university.

During my first year as a graduate sustainability consultant, I have worked on projects that span across the different sides of sustainability including:

  • Being involved in schemes such as Canada Water which is a £2 billion redevelopment project in south-east London to create a new urban space that includes offices, restaurants and green spaces. I was involved in discussions on approaches to deliver social sustainability through addressing social issues in an area. Providing local employment and engaging with the community are just two examples of strategies that target social sustainability.
  • Assisting with the preparation of a document for a large-scale property developer, which advised the company on strategies to measure and maximise the social value of a development. The concept of ‘social value’ has become a prevalent concept in much of the work I do too. The social value of a development is measured by its wider financial and non-financial impact, including socio-economic, wellbeing and environmental impacts.
  • Helping compile an initial invitation to tender for a major housing regeneration company to submit to the local authorities which discussed approaches that would be taken during construction and operation to ensure that the proposed project was sustainable. This included strategies to provide zero-carbon homes and to protect biodiversity.

My involvement in projects such as these has demonstrated that research is an integral part of a sustainability consultant’s role in formulating guidance for clients, whether it be investigating a local authority’s policies or gaining knowledge of an area’s socio-economic status. Research makes sure that my knowledge is constantly evolving which makes my job role stimulating and engaging.

Becoming a graduate sustainability consultant has allowed me to use my own ideas in projects and my opinions are truly valued. The diverse nature of the role keeps me fully engaged and makes every day different, and I could not recommend it more as a career path.