UCL celebrates a decade of sustainability action
6 July 2022
UCL celebrated 10 years of climate action this Wednesday, 6th July, at the annual Sustainability Awards Ceremony, recognising students, staff and researchers who have been making change possible at UCL and beyond.
When UCL created its sustainability team 10 years ago, it was difficult to imagine how much change an ever-growing community of UCL sustainability champions would bring about. Since the launch of UCL’s first Environmental Sustainability Strategy in 2013, UCL has become a leader on sustainability in the HE sector, receiving numerous awards for its ambitious sustainability programme. We have made 28% of carbon savings over the last decade and are now sourcing all of our electricity from renewable sources, including 2,400 solar panels across UCL’s own campus. UCL’s behaviour change programmes LEAF and Green Impact have gone from strength to strength, involving staff at UCL in making their work environments greener. From sustainability fairs and bike-powered cinemas at the beginning of the academic year, to the Sustainability Council, students now have the chance to engage with sustainability at UCL from the day they arrive on campus.
This year’s ceremony was a culmination of 10 years of sustainability action. A record 134 staff teams made sustainable changes to their work environments and practices via Green Impact and LEAF. From improving air quality on campus by reducing vehicle access by 90% to influencing international research on the link between climate change and epilepsy, the awards also celebrated 9 special winners for their outstanding sustainability contribution to teaching, research and operations at UCL and beyond.
Three speakers inspired the more than 200 sustainability champions joining the hybrid awards ceremony in the UCL Jeremy Bentham Room and via Zoom:
- Richard Jackson, Director of Sustainable UCL, opened the ceremony looking back on the UCL community's sustainability achievements from the past 10 years such as winning the UK Higher Education sector Green Gown award for Climate Action, building UCL's first net zero carbon building, and growing UCL's Climate Hub.
- Leanne Case, UCL Alumna and award-winning business strategist advancing environmental and social challenges and supporting gender equity in investment was the second speaker of the day. She challenged the audience to engage critically with the notion of sustainability, while also expressing confidence that the UCL community can take meaningful climate action.
- UCL President and Provost, Dr Michael Spence concluded the opening speeches with a reflection on the role of sustainability in UCL’s wider strategic development and recognising those present as 'champions for change' at UCL.
To honour all of the winners, Sustainable UCL donated 315 trees to the UCL Grove, sequestering 18,900kg of carbon *(one tree can consume approximately 60kg of CO2 from the atmosphere). Sustainable UCL also handed out award certificates printed on seeded paper, inviting all recipients to grow wild flowers from their certificates.
The ceremony was concluded with a plant-based BBQ on the Wilkins Terrace.
2022 Winners of the Sustainability Special Awards
- Staff Award for Outstanding Commitment to Sustainability
The winner of the 2022 Staff Award for Outstanding Commitment to Sustainability is Wesley Knapp, Decants and Moves Manager in Estates Development. Wes has significantly progressed the agenda around maximising the reuse of furniture across a wide variety of projects by using tools such as Warpit and Reyooz; as well as day-to-day activities working with project teams and UCL logistics colleagues.
Wes is also carrying out audits of UCL spaces prior to strip out to see where and how things can be reused. This has prompted a new partnership with 'Brightsparks' a company which will come in before clearances and take away what we don't need, repurposing it for use in social housing, and for families who are struggling to furnish their homes within the community.
Dr. Zareena Gani, Lecturer at the Department of Mechanical Engineering was highly commended for promoting sustainability within the Mechanical Engineering Teaching Labs. She has enrolled the lab with the UCL LEAF program to make laboratories more sustainable. Zareena has also been focusing on integrating “sustainability” at the core of her undergraduate and postgraduate research projects.
- Student Award for Outstanding Commitment to Sustainability
- The winner of the student award for outstanding commitment to sustainability 2022 is Mukund Hari Nathany, BSc Economics student and President of the UCL TEDx Society. Mukund has brought TEDx back to the UCL campus after 6 years; choosing to license TEDxUCL under TED’s Countdown initiative to demonstrate and amplify solutions to the climate crisis.
Under Mukund’s leadership, UCL TEDx Society made sustainability the core focus of all its activities in 2021/22 including the flagship TEDxUCL conference on climate, which became one of the largest conferences of its kind in the entire United Kingdom. The live audience exceeded 500 people, and the talks delivered on stage have been uploaded to the official TEDx Talks YouTube with 34.9 million subscribers, where they are being amplified to the entire world.
Trizzha Feliciano from the UCL Medical School was highly commended for transforming the Medical School’s activity and culture on sustainability. She has led the Planetary Health Report Card (PHRC) application for the last two years, working with students, staff and NHS colleagues to complete the in-depth metrics and improve planetary health content in health professional schools. Trizzha provides live induction talks to first and second-year students, introducing them to sustainability at UCL and the effects of climate change on health.
Vaania Kapoor Achuthan from the Department of Political Science was highly commended for funding the Animal Rights Society at UCL - the second biggest society related to sustainability at UCL. Vaania has founded a plant-based university campaign run in over 20 universities and mobilized 300+ students, with the ultimate objective of having universities transition to 100% just and sustainable plant based catering.
- Sustainability Education Award
- The winner of the Sustainability Education Award 2022 is the PCPH Primary Care Medical Education Team who re-designed the Year 5 GP course for students to incorporate sustainability into formal teaching. The aim of the course is to educate future practitioners and leaders that can:
- Advocate for planetary health measures on a population level;
- Create health and practice medicine in ways that are environmentally responsible;
- Lead systems change through quality improvement and innovation to achieve a NetZero NHS.
The sustainability elements of the course include lectures, group discussions and workshops and were developed in collaboration with students, academics, GPs and patient experts.
Dr Lorenzo Lotti, Associate Professor in Economics of Energy and the Environment at the Bartlett School Environment, Energy & Resources was highly commended for encouraging students to think about and get involved with sustainable practices through the module ‘Behavioural Economics and Game Theory’.
Within the module, Lorenzo organised a “Behavioural Marathon” where students help an NGO or charity focusing on sustainability to tackle issues with the help of nudges and behavioural economics. This year, the event was scaled up: teams from UCL and the University of Warwick competed in designing interventions on "sustainable fashion" or "reducing meat consumption among young males football supporters", to help the London-based charity Hubbub. The event was live-streamed, and the winning groups went to Hubbub in Somerset House to present their projects.
- Sustainability Research Award
- The winner of the Sustainability Research award 2022 is Professor Sanjay Sisodiya. Sanjay established a global consortium, called Epilepsy Climate Change (EpiCC), of neurologists, scientists, nurses, representatives from industry and charities supporting people with epilepsy as a global initiative to foster research, raise awareness and share knowledge. He has since established the UCL NeuroClimate Consortium, a cross-Faculty initiative at UCL, including climatologists, neuroscientists, neurologists, pharmacists and architects, aiming to develop and undertake research on climate change impacts across neurological diseases.
Through EpilepsyClimateChange (EpiCC), he has promoted research internationally, raised awareness and inspired others to take action. EpilepsyClimateChange also won PR Week’s ‘Favourite Campaign of COP26’ – with the distribution during COP26 (2021) of a special-edition newspaper, highlighting the impact of climate change on neurological health. He has given 18 national and international climate neurology talks since 2018, and EpiCC was noted at Prime Minister’s Questions in 2021.
Dr Jing Meng, Associate Professor in Ecological Economics at The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction was highly commended for providing academic leadership in innovative interdisciplinary research, which applies quantitative approaches to link economic growth to environmental sustainability. Since 2016, Jing has been committed to producing transparent and robust data for the Carbon Emission Accounts & Datasets (CEADs).
CEADs provide up-to-date CO2 emissions and socioeconomic variables, which reflect the global supply chain for emerging economies, which is often neglected. Building on the dataset, Jing delivers high impact research that targets multiple sustainable development goals and their interaction, particularly targeting SDGs 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 10 (Reduced Inequalities), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and 13 (Climate Action).
- Sustainability Impact Award
- The winner of the Sustainability Impact Award 2022 is the UCL Logistics Team. The UCL Logistics Team have reduced 90% of vehicle access on the UCL main campus during core hours by working with university departments to bulk buy orders and have them delivered to the Logistics Hub. In addition, they have collaborated with Camden City Council and introduced a ‘no-idling campaign’ for vehicles entering Bedford Way helping to reduce vehicle emissions and local air pollution. The team has also purchased cargo bikes to ensure that the final leg of deliveries to UCL done in a more environmentally friendly way.
The IOE student support team was highly commended for running several projects for staff and students during this academic year to draw attention to sustainability. The team recruited a sustainability officer who worked with the team on a ChangeMaker application and secured funding to run a student campaign at the IOE to encourage students to make small changes for sustainability. The also ran the 'Grow together' campaign through which they created a student 'plant buddies' community. They facilitated check-ins and meetings for participants to talk about plants, gardening and mental health and wellbeing - connecting around 500 students, staff and plants.
- Special Awards for Outstanding Sustainability Plan
The Sustainability Plan is a bespoke plan, which focuses on the unique sustainability opportunities and challenges that are connected to a division or faculty’s area of work.
PALS Green Team
From the ‘Powered by Plants’ initiative to their zero flying pledge, the PALS Green Team inspire other departments and faculties at UCL and beyond. They have been instrumental in developing UCL’s first Faculty Sustainability Committee in Brain Sciences – a model that is now being adopted across UCL and continue to lead the way on sustainability at this University.
This year the Accommodation Team have kick-started their sustainability campaign. They have a large new team of green champions and support from senior staff who will increase the sustainability of their buildings and practices through sustainability audits, ramping up recycling and by looking into creating a circular waste stream within halls so that students buy and waste less.
The Bartlett have taken the initiative to set up their own Net Zero Advisory Group.
This follows a clear decision by the faculty to focus on UCL’s path to net zero with particular attention on driving down operational emissions; whilst also drawing on the research, teaching and wider experience of the Bartlett community.
They have a programme of subject areas they are tackling and will develop plans to understand baseline emissions associated with each one; and put together measures to reduce them.
The Students’ Union UCL
The Student’s Union UCL has implemented an environmental management system on their journey to becoming the UK’s most sustainable Students’ Union
With student engagement being the SU’s biggest opportunity, they have put their power to good use, by engaging students in sustainability through the joint initiatives: the Student Sustainability Ambassador Programme, the Student Sustainability Council, 28 Days of Sustainability (UCL’s Sustainability Month), and organising Sustainability Fairs and Bike-Powered cinemas
Green Impact Awards
CLIE Climate Action Team
Epidemiology and Public Health
IOE Primary PGCE
IoPD Green Team
Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering
Philosophy Green Team
UCL GOS ICH DBC Green Team
Bartlett Faculty Office
Ear Institute Team
History of Art
IOE APO Green Crusaders
Senate House UCL Hub
Senate House UCL Hub
Student Registry Services
UCL Institute of Orthopaedics Library
Arts and Sciences BASc
BSSC Green Onions
Dementia Research Centre [ION]
Department of Information Studies
Division of Psychiatry
ICH Library, UCL
Institute of Archaeology Library
Institute of Ophthalmology
Legion of Eunomia
Queen Square Library
Royal Free Medical Library
School of Pharmacy Library
UCL Innovation & Enterprise
UCL Language & Speech Science Library
UCL Medical School
UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory
UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology Admin
6.02 Teaching Lab
Confocal & Light Microscopy Core Facility
De Coppi Lab
Dubowitz Neuromuscular Centre
Electrochemical Innovation Labs
Experimental Physical Chemistry - Salzmann
Fielding Group - LG32
G16 Electrochemistry Lab
GGM MBRD 1st Floor
ICH - Ground Floor Labs (Jenkins et al)
ICH - Respiratory Infection
Insect Labs Darwin GFloor
LG30 - Volpe Lab
LG31 - Clarke Group
Long/Scambler Lab (204/209)
Mass Spec Lab
Mechanical Engineering Teaching Labs
Pharmaceutics Tissue Culture Facility (301a)
Rheumatology Labs - Rayne
Sowden & Ferretti Lab
Royal Free BSU
Carmalt and Parkin Research Groups
Centre for Clinical Microbiology
Department of Neuroinflammation at Wakefield St
Dept. of Clinical and Movement Neuroscience
Ear Institute Labs
ICH Lab Management Team
Institute of Healthy Ageing
MRC Prion Unit at UCL, Institute of Prion Diseases
Pallett Lab (IIT)
Pharmaceutics Instrumental Laboratories
Thermal Analysis Laboratory
Womens Health Chenies Mews
Medical Physics & Biomedichal Engineering
Annette Dolphin Lab
Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy Labs
Department of Neurodegenerative Disease
Department of Neuromuscular Diseases
Fish Floor Anatomy
Flow Cytometry Core Facility Lab
Graham Lab 101
Kurian Lab - ZCR
PALS LEAF Lab
Sainsbury Wellcome Centre
School of Pharmacy Teaching Labs
WLDI Skin Lab