Sustainable UCL


Easter Switch Off Impact 2023! What's Next?

25 April 2023

Thank you to everyone who participated in 2023’s Easter Switch Off. Nearly 300 pledges resulted in a combined saving of 32 tonnes of carbon – that’s the equivalent weight of almost 1 million crème eggs! This saved UCL an incredible £50,790 over the Easter period.

Bunny with the words 'Easter Switch Off Results'

We can’t believe it’s term 3 already! Thank you to everyone who participated in this year's Easter Switch Off from Wednesday 5th April to Thursday 13th April.  

287 of us pledged to switch off lights, computers, fridges, microwaves, lab equipment and heating - resulting in a reduction of 163,839 kilowatt hours. This led to a combined saving of 32 tonnes of carbon - equivalent to the weight of 931,858 crème eggs! It also saved UCL £50,790 over the Easter period, which is a sum that can be better spent towards our operations, research and education.  

By running the Easter Switch Off each year, we hope to raise awareness of energy usage at UCL and help our community to feel empowered to make change. With the doubling of energy bills since the academic year began, UCL is expected to pay almost £50 million on energy this year and this cost will still be significant even in the Spring and Summer months.  

Alongside this, we have made ambitious commitments to reducing energy and carbon. Although we have reduced carbon emissions by 29% over the last 10 years, despite significant university growth, a step-change in our approach to energy saving is still required. 

Competition winners 

Who won the competition we ‘ear’ you asking? A massive congratulations to The Ear Institute* who are this year’s Easter Switch Off winners and will receive a £100 prize from Sustainable UCL. The Ear Institute was closely followed by the Division of Biosciences and the Bartlett Faculty Office – congratulations to all!   

Although we’ve mentioned a small number of UCL departments, there were members of staff and students from a total of over 50 departments and residences across the university who took part, without whom we wouldn’t have achieved our results. A huge thank you to all who took part! 

What action is UCL taking to reduce energy? 

Making our campus more energy efficient  

  • Repairing existing and installing more controls for heating, cooling and lighting.    

  • Working with the Energy Institute and others to link our heating system to on-campus weather stations helping to better match heating provision with demand.  

  • Connecting our room bookings system with our heating control system so unoccupied rooms are not heated unnecessarily.   

  • Undertaking surveys in buildings to both identify faulty lighting controls and quote for replacements for LEDs and controls.    

Streamlining our operations 

  • Setting up our Switch Off team who are working up some miles around campus in the evening, turning off lights and appliances which have been left on in unoccupied areas. Corridor lighting will be left on to ensure safety and accessibility around campus.   

  • The opening hours of some buildings have been changed. Phase 1 and Phase 2 of this programme have already been completed. Phase 3 planning is underway, and we are working to ensure that there are no unreasonable impacts on teaching, research, or other business critical activities. The Student Centre will remain open for 24/7 studying.  

  • Moving all Central Professional Services (PS) teams to Bidborough House from St Martins Le Grand (SMLG), 1st floor of Judd Street and 7th floor of Maple House.    

Making improvements to our IT services 

  • Consolidating data storage into data centres to improve energy efficiency and data security. 

  • ISD is changing how power to Desktop@UCL computers is managed across campus. It is estimated it will save £500 a day.  

What actions can you take to help save energy?  

  • Do an evening energy check before leaving UCL at the end of the day to make sure we switch off our computers, monitors and lights. We currently spend £3,000 every hour overnight even when the campus is largely unoccupied. So even if we all just switched off our lights when we left the office, we could save UCL £500,000 a year – equivalent to the CO2 absorption of almost 7.5 million trees.   

  • Something not working? Please let us know. While we are working hard to find faults that are wasting energy, it is a huge campus and so your help identifying these is essential. If you notice energy wastage in the office – e.g., lighting controls not working, windows that will not close, please report them using this form.   

  • Be a chameleon: In the cooler months, use layers to keep warmer, rather than turning up the thermostat or heating. In the Spring and Summer, use layers and light clothing to keep cool, rather than turning up the air-conditioning. Teaching, research and office spaces are regulated between temperatures of 19-21°C on weekdays between 8-6pm, during Spring. 

  • Join our Green Impact and LEAF Programmes. These are UCL-wide environmental competition and accreditation scheme's across departments and labs - set up to reduce their overall environmental impact. 

*Calculated by percentage participation per department multiplied by the number of participants per department.