Sustainable UCL


Sustainable Construction

UCL occupies around 150 buildings, which include laboratories, libraries, museums, theatres, workshops and residences. We are working to minimise the carbon emissions and broader environmental impacts of this diverse estate.

Developing a more sustainable estate

The institutional commitments in our Sustainability Strategy, and the objectives set out in our 10-year ‘Transforming UCL’ programme, demonstrate that a sustainable built environment is one of our key priorities.

A sustainable estate means reducing the negative environmental and social impacts of our construction, operation, and maintenance activities as far as possible. This includes working towards net zero carbon - ensuring that our buildings are as efficient as possible, with any remaining energy demand met by cleaner technologies. We are also enhancing our green spaces to promote biodiversity and wellbeing.

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Sustainable Building Standard

UCL expects the highest standards for all our construction projects, as set out in our Sustainable Building Standard. In order to meet both internal and external targets, as well as the expectations of our staff and students, the document focuses on the following core principles:

  1. Life cycle value: UCL has been occupying some of its buildings for decades, and even centuries. We need to future-proof our buildings, ensuring that they are robust and flexible within the context of a changing environment.
  2. Energy use and carbon emissions: Our construction project teams are required to demonstrate how their work is addressing the institutional strategy for net zero carbon; with an emphasis on reducing energy demand and increasing durability.
  3. Healthy and productive environments: Thoughtful design can help to improve the working environment for our staff and students. We consider the comfort and wellbeing of all building users alongside functional and technical requirements.
  4. Circular Economy: Resource efficient design can result in cost savings whilst also minimising environmental impacts. We will follow circular economy principles, using material and water resources as efficiently as possible, whilst also conserving natural capital.

Accessible and Inclusive Environments

Developing new, more inclusive facilities is a key part of both our estates development and operational activities. This is set out in our Inclusive Design Strategy. It means ensuring that our buildings meet the needs of all users - removing physical and operational barriers to services whilst aiming to eliminate segregation and exclusion. These developments include accessible and inclusive toilets (including changing places toilets and gender-neutral toilets), step free access, assistive hearing technology, and design for well-being and neurodiversity.

Completed sustainable projects

UCL 22 Gordon Street

22 Gordon Street

The Bartlett School of Architecture's new home is one of our most sustainable buildings.

UCL New Student Centre

New Student Centre

 Achieving BREEAM ‘Outstanding - our Student Centre is our sustainability flagship.

St Martin Le Grand building UCL

St Martin's Le Grand

The fit-out of St Martin’s Le Grand achieved the first ever Gold Ska award.

Photograph of UCL's Wilkins Terrace

Wilkins Terrace & Lower Refectory

Located at the heart of the UCL Bloomsbury Campus, this project brings together works to create a new public open space on the site of the former Physics Service Yard.

CGI of Bloomsbury Theatre Stage

The Bloomsbury Theatre

The redevelopment of UCL’s Bloomsbury Theatre has presented a major opportunity to improve energy efficiency and wellbeing for building users.

Photograph of KLB entrance

Kathleen Lonsdale Building

The phased refurbishment of UCL’s Grade 2 listed Kathleen Lonsdale Building (KLB) will provide improved teaching, research and social learning spaces for Earth Sciences, Physics, Astronomy and Chemistry.

More examples of sustainable projects from Transforming UCL and UCL Estates can be found here.

Resources for sustainable construction

  • UCL Sustainable Building Standard: This document details UCL’s vision and strategy for the delivery of a sustainable estate. It includes minimum sustainability requirements relevant to all types of construction projects from major new build to minor works.
  • UCL Cost and Carbon Tool: In support of our carbon management and reporting obligations, this tool enables users to calculate cost and carbon implications of different design options from early project stages. Performance is calculated over a 25 year period and includes payback periods for small building changes, major refurbishments or new build projects.
  • Mini Ska ToolThis is a cut down version of the RICS Ska methodology which has been adapted for UCL use on small projects.