Sustainable UCL


UCL rises to its highest position in the People and Planet University ‘Green’ League

17 July 2019

This is the fourth year in a row that UCL has been awarded a First Class honours status. Achieving 18th place out of 154 Universities, it represents UCL’s highest position in the League; putting us 4th in the Russell Group.

Green League Award

The high ranking is a reflection of the amazing work done by UCL students and staff who have been helping the organisation to combat climate change through our education, research and operations. We’ll be celebrating and showcasing their work at UCL’s Sustainability Awards Ceremony this Thursday 18th July 2019.

Compiled by student campaigning organisation People & Planet, the University League is an independent ranking of UK universities on their environmental, social and ethical performance. 

UCL scored maximum points for Sustainability Policy and Strategy, Human Resources for Sustainability, Carbon Management and for our Environmental Management System. We scored highly for Education for Sustainable Development, Staff and Student Engagement and Sustainable Food. You can see UCL’s full score here. Unfortunately due to a technical error, the performance scores for energy sources, water, waste and carbon reduction are incorrectly showing as zero. UCL did however achieve high scores for these.


Green League

Richard Jackson, UCL’s Director of Sustainability, explained how this is a tremendous achievement for the community.

Rising from 89th place to 18th in just 5 years is a testament to the University’s commitment to sustainability. In this year alone, we’ve seen the New Student Centre achieve a BREEAM Outstanding rating, the highest sustainable building award in the UK; we’ve witnessed a huge uptake in UCL departments offering 100% vegetarian catering; and students in the Bartlett have developed a successful, global campaign to embed sustainability into Architecture studies. I am extremely proud of all that our community has achieved on this journey to help UCL improve its position and thank everyone for their tremendous work. In October we will be launching UCL’s new Sustainability Strategy which represents a bold and ambitious new programme of work for UCL – aiming to tackle climate change, unsustainable consumption and the quality of our local environments.

Measures that helped UCL achieve 1st class award:

  • Reducing our Carbon Emissions by 14% compared to 2005 despite huge campus growth. This was achieved through a programme of building upgrades such as lighting improvements and intelligent controls and through engagement programmes like the Easter Switch Off.
  • Improving UCL’s Environmental Management System: UCL recertified to ISO140001 standard for its holistic approach to managing our environmental impacts across the Institution.
  • Sustainability Engagement Programmes: UCL engages its 50,000 strong community on topics of sustainability with event-long weeks, art installations and conferences – you may remember the plastic ocean installation in the front quad!
  • Building a Sustainable CampusUCL has embarked on an extensive building and refurbishment programme - Transforming UCL, and at its core is environmental sustainability. All new buildings and major refurbishments follow UCL’s Sustainability Design Brief and must achieve BREEAM Excellent or above.
  • Making a local and global impact: A sustainable UCL is intrinsically linked to a sustainable London.  UCL is supporting Camden’s Citizen Assembly on Climate Change.
  • Education for Sustainability: UCL is committed to embedding sustainability into the curriculum, providing students the opportunity to explore issues of sustainable development and solve some of society’s most pressing issues through using UCL’s campus and operations as a test-bed. See our programmes on our website.
  • Ethical Investment: UCL is progressing towards an investment approach which reflects a transition to a low carbon future by following the principles of the Sarasin Climate Active Fund. For more information see our website.

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