Sustainable UCL


UCL achieve Eco Campus Platinum Award!

13 September 2017

We are delighted to announce that UCL is now certified to ISO14001 and Eco Campus Platinum. 

EMS platinum

ISO… what?

My thoughts exactly. ISO14001 is an international standard that sets out and then tests the requirements for effective environmental management within an organisation. It is there to help organisations of any size become more environmentally friendly, by complying with legislation and reducing environmental impacts. In laymen’s terms it is a really big deal and an excellent achievement!

What is Eco Campus?

Eco Campus is the environmental management scheme for higher and further education. It sets out a phased approach to ensure that universities are:

  1. Fully compliant with environmental legislation
  2. Have processes in place to prevent pollution
  3. Continuously reducing environmental impacts, whilst also seeking to make positive interventions across our curriculum, campus and community

Eco Campus Platinum is the highest award a university can achieve!

Our Journey

In 2010 UCL Estates adopted the Eco Campus programme at the request of the UCL Environmental Sustainability Steering Group. UCL first achieved Bronze in 2010 and have progressed through each step to achieve Platinum in 2017, which also results in accreditation to ISO14001.

eco campus timeline

UCL was audited over 5 days in June during which time the auditors visited lab departments to look at waste and chemical management, interviewed the Estates teams to look at carbon management, grounds maintenance and infrastructure and met numerous members of the UCL community taking part in UCL’s Sustainability Engagement Programme (Green Impact) and other environmentally related activities.

Eco Campus has been adopted by many other universities, of which far less than 50% have currently achieved ISO14001. The size, scale and complexity of UCL make our remit and scope of environmental management larger than most organisations and therefore there are significantly more areas we can be audited against. This is a great benchmark of our progress and whilst the Sustainability Team coordinated the audit, this was a massive institutional effort from the academic community, professional services and our external contractors.

What next?

Achieving ISO14001 requires continuous progress. We will be audited again in June 2018 and so we must ensure that the areas of improvement that were flagged are investigated and the auditors will continue to check whether the institution is embedding sustainability in everything we do – a continuous challenge in a fast moving organisation.

Benefits to UCL


Whilst a lot of this work goes on in the background, it means that students have a benchmark to refer to with regards to how UCL is managing its environmental impacts. There are opportunities to get involved too through:


This achievement provides staff with:

  • Pride due to working at an institution which maintains high environmental standard, a selling point to prospective students.
  • Increased funding. Grant applications include questions on the level of environmental management the university is certified to. UCL staff can now score maximum marks for such questions.
  • As a whole, the award will help UCL stand out in tightly contested bids.

Leading by example

UCL requires our contractors to be certified to ISO14001 too and so we are setting the right tone for how we wish our partners and professional service contractors to manage the environment. For an institution as large as UCL, it will hopefully also push other institutions to raise their environmental credentials too. Many other Russell Group universities such as University of Cambridge, Imperial and the University of Oxford are yet to achieve full certification and so we hope that our achievement encourages others to follow.