Sustainable UCL


2023 Sustainability Awards: Another incredible year for sustainability at UCL!

1 August 2023

UCL commemorated its 11th Annual Sustainability Awards Ceremony on the 12th of July, applauding the sustainable accomplishments of 48 Green Impact teams, 77 LEAF teams and 10 Special Awards recipients.

Image of award winners

Celebrating our community

UCL’s Sustainability Awards Ceremony witnessed over 200 staff and students from all corners of the university join together, both online, and in person, to celebrate the unwavering dedication and hard work of our community members who have been striving to enhance the sustainability of UCL. Amidst joy, celebration and ice-cream, the event shone a spotlight on the importance of collective action, the strength of community, and the significance of coming together to celebrate and inspire one another.  

From laboratories pushing the boundaries of energy efficiency, to departments cultivating green spaces and well-being initiatives, our community at UCL strives for progress. Together, we are weaving sustainability into the fabric of our institute. The passion and dedication of our staff and students inspire us to reach even greater heights, and I look forward to celebrating more remarkable stories of sustainability and innovation in the years to come." Jason Clarke, Assistant Sustainability Director, UCL.

The Ceremony, hosted by UCL’s new Assistant Sustainability Director, Jason Clarke, celebrated an astonishing 77 LEAF teams making their laboratories more sustainable, and 48 Green Impact teams working towards improving the sustainability of their offices and libraries. This year, we had 67 teams receive Gold Awards - more than ever before!  

There were also five Special Sustainability Awards. These Special Awards were given to nominated individuals and teams who have shown to go the extra mile to achieve greater levels of sustainability in teaching, research, and operations at UCL and beyond. View the winners, and those who were highly commended at the end of this article.   


To foster meaningful relationships between members of staff and students working towards the same sustainability goals, the ceremony began with an engaging networking event, attended by 10 stallholders from across the university. This was followed by a delicious vegetarian and sustainable barbecue on the Wilkins Terrace, before the awards ceremony began.

Guest speakers

To commemorate the winners, attendees were graced by three guest speakers:  

  • Aimie Chapple, UCL Vice-Provost (Operations), sharing her insights on the significance of sustainability in her new role, expressing admiration for the commendable sustainability efforts at UCL and recognising the university's widespread engagement in sustainability initiatives.  
  • Zihan Xuan, a UCL Philosophy, Politics, and Economics BSc graduate and the YOUNGO Global North Focal Point, speaking passionately about the vital role of young people in addressing climate change. YOUNGO is the official children and youth constituency of the UNFCCC. Drawing from his experiences at the Conference of Parties (COP), he highlighted the importance of youth voices in climate conferences. 
  • Professor Priti Parikh, Director of the Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction, sharing her profound journey in sustainability and climate change. Emphasising the power of interdisciplinarity and the Sustainable Development Framework, she outlined how these approaches can effectively address the pressing issues across the entire university. Priti concluded her inspiring talk with a quote by Mahatma Gandhi, urging everyone to "Be the change you wish to see in this world."  

From left to right: Jason Clarke, Professor Priti Parikh and Zihan Xuan 

The awards

All winners were presented with wildflower seeded certificates and delicious cakes to celebrate their achievements. The cakes were baked by Luminary Bakery, a social enterprise providing training, employment, and community to women in need. 

Image of cake awards
UCL in numbers

The fantastic accomplishments across UCL add to a positive year for sustainability at UCL. In 2022/2023:  

  • UCL ranked 7th in the People and Planet University League, moving up 12 positions from 2021/2022.
  • 21 academics represented UCL in the international climate negotiations at COP27. 
  • The UCL Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Education launched to support teachers to prepare them on how to teach subjects relating to climate change and sustainability. 
  • An Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Network launched for staff to share best practise in embedding sustainability into the curriculum.
  • 788 staff and students pledged to switch off during the Christmas and Easter periods, helping UCL to reduce 139 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to planting 2,224 trees and saving UCL over £190,000.
  • UCL’s caterer, Gather & Gather, received a prestigious UDine award for the 'Best Plant-Based Menu.' 
  • Club Zero, a returnable cup scheme expanded to 10 UCL cafes. Club Zero launched at UCL in 2021, which has since enabled over 6,000 fewer single-use cups to be produced.
  • The UCL CAVE Research Laboratory achieved BREEAM Excellent and UCL East and Marshgate are on the track to achieve BREEAM Excellent.
  • UCL collaborated with 9 other London-based universities for the London Student Sustainability Conference.

*On average, one tree can consume approximately 60kg of CO2 from the atmosphere.   

    2023 Winners of the Sustainability Special Awards

    Staff Award for Outstanding Commitment to Sustainability

    The winner of the 2023 Staff Award for Outstanding Commitment to Sustainability is Dr Deniz Bakkalci, Research Fellow in the Department of Targeted Intervention.  

    Image of Dr Deniz Bakkalci and Professor Priti Parikh

    Deniz is a tissue engineer and develops 3D models of disease and healthy tissue from biodegradable materials to study basic biology and how disease progression impacts tissue form and function. Deniz also leads the Division of Surgery & Interventional Science Green Impact team and seeks greener alternatives in laboratory settings by introducing innovative initiatives and working collaboratively with staff and students to conduct case studies aimed at conserving energy and minimising the use of plastic.  

    Deniz has also implemented a mandatory sustainability induction for new staff to raise awareness and ensure that sustainability principles are ingrained in our daily activities. 

    The highly commended Staff Award for Outstanding Commitment to Sustainability was awarded to Professor Paolo Taticchi, UCL School of Management Deputy Director & Professor in Strategy.  

    Paolo introduced a well-received sustainability module for the Global Business School for Health Master of Business Administration (MBA) and played a pivotal role in developing the UCL MBA Sustainability Lab. Additionally, as the School Deputy Director for Global Engagement, he spearheaded the strategy for a new summer school addressing grand challenges through ecosystem innovation. 

    UCL MBA Sustainability Lab

    Student Award for Outstanding Commitment to Sustainability

    The winner of the 2023 Student Award for Outstanding Commitment to Sustainability is Tom Weston, MBA student, UCL School of Management.  

    Image of Tom Weston and Professor Priti Parikh

    Tom founded the UCL Sustainability Lab in May 2022, as a collaborative, sustainability-focused platform to build an impactful link between academia and industry and to tackle grand business challenges. During the 2022-23 academic year, Tom has established partnerships with 6 companies and industry organisations, as well as two non-governmental organisations.

    UCL MBA Sustainability Lab    

    The highly commended Student Award for Outstanding Commitment to Sustainability was awarded to Engineers Without Borders. Rachel Wan, second-year Biomedical Engineering student, collected the award.    

    Engineers Without Borders are a student-led project that deliver hands-on sustainable engineering workshops for students in primary and secondary schools across London. They encourage young people from different backgrounds to choose a career in engineering. This academic year, Engineers Without Borders have organised 19 workshops, promoting sustainable engineering in nine schools across London, where their activities reached out to more than 500 young students.  

    Sustainability Education Award

    The winner of the Sustainable Education Award is Blanche Cameron, lecturer at The Bartlett School of Architecture, for leading UCL’s Greening Cities module. 

    The Greening Cities module explores how integrating biodiverse nature-based solutions into the urban fabric can help to cool buildings and neighbourhoods, reduce flooding, filter water pollution, reduce carbon emissions, energy and costs, and improve people’s health and sense of wellbeing.  

    Blanche has been testing out innovative solutions with her students on campus. 

    > UCL installs biodiverse rain planters for nature-based climate adaptation. 


    The highly commended Sustainability Education Award was awarded to Dr Nicole Blum, Senior Lecturer, Insitute of Education (IOE) and Dr Frances Hunt, Senior Researcher,IOE. 

    Created and built by Dr Blum and Dr Hunt of the IOE, and funded by the Sustainable UCL team, the Educating for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Schools and Universities’ online short course provides educators in schools and universities with support and continuing professional development to embed ESD within their practice. To date, 1,015 participants have enrolled in the course from 115 countries, and they have received very positive feedback from participants located around the world.  

    This project had support from academics and professional staff from across the UCL institution.  

    Educating for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Schools and Universities.

    Sustainability Research Award

    The winner of the Sustainability Research Award is Professor Catalina Turcu, Professor of Sustainable Built Environment, The Bartlett School of Planning. 

    Image of Professor Priti Parikh and Professor Catalina Turcu

    Professor Turcu is the Founder and Director of the SDG’s Research Accelerator. This is a transdisciplinary research initiative that provides scientific evidence through participatory engagement between researchers and policymakers to advance the understanding and implementation of the UN SDGs and sustainable urban transformations.   

    > SDG Research Accelerator initiative

    The highly commended Sustainability Research Award was awarded to Alexa Wong, Rebecca Nasterlack and Asma Laali, Students in the Mathematical & Physical Sciences Faculty. 

    Following mounting mental health and wellbeing concerns, Asma, Alexa and Rebecca (under the supervision of Dr Peter Bratby) applied to UCL’s ChangeMakers Project for funding and support to develop an understanding of disabled/neurodivergent (D/ND) students’ experiences in Natural Sciences. Through rich testimonies, survey results and research, they produced a 25-page report that surfaced several shortcomings and opportunities to improve support.  

    Sustainability Impact Award

    The winner of the Sustainability Impact Award is UCL’s Student Zero Food Waste Project, collected by Daisy Li, Claudia Low and Cynthia Allen.   

    Image of Professor Priti Parikh and Daisy Li

    The Student Zero Food Waste Project is a student-led volunteering project that aims to tackle food waste and enhance sustainability on campus through food redistribution. Since October 2022, the project organises volunteers to deliver unsold food from 9 food outlets (cafés/shops) across campus to nearby homeless shelters and other locations. They have saved almost 4,600 food items from being thrown away.  

    The highly commended Sustainability Impact Award was awarded to Gather & Gather, UCL’s catering contractor. 

    Gather & Gather, also known as ‘Food at UCL’ are committed to serving food that has a lower carbon impact thereby reducing the most significant driver of their climate impact at UCL and supporting UCL’s campaign Positive Climate. Gather & Gather have been tracking not only the availability of very high to very low impact dishes, but also have built systems to track their sales in their main refectory against the dishes carbon intensity. 

    Gather & Gather have run behaviour change trials in the main refectory to see whether menu descriptions, larger icons, inclusion in meal-deals, and increased comms around carbon and food will change customer’s choices. The learnings from these trials will guide Gather & Gather on what methods they should use across all UCL outlets to help the community make better-informed choices.

    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.

    Green Laws   

    Laws have dedicated time and effort in gathering data and consulting staff and students in finding appropriate and impactful solutions that can make a difference with their faculty. They also have a Green Impact Committee of 49 staff and students.  

    A major project that Green Laws are working towards is the installation of water fountains in Bentham House. This is being undertaken to help increase the number of students bringing in reusable bottles. 

    Mullard Science Space Laboratory (MSSL) 

    The Green Impact team have worked tirelessly over the last few years to increase awareness of the issues surrounding climate change. One example is how they have been bringing nature into the surrounding areas of MSSL through the reduction of mowing, native planting and exclusion of chemical herbicides.  

    PALS Green Team  

    The PALS Green Team continue to lead the way on sustainability at UCL. One incredible example is their partnership with JogOn, which collects trainers from staff and students to donated for distribution around the world or to be shredded and recycled, as opposed to going to landfill.  

      Read more about the special award winners and highly commended

      Green Impact Awards


      ARC Green Team 
      ICH Sustainability 
      IOE Library 
      SSEES Library 
      Student Psychological and Counselling Services  
      UCL Institute of Orthopaedics Library 
      Wickford Stores 
      Wilms Team 


      Bartlett Library 
      Bloomsbury Theatre 
      Green Laws 
      Institute of Clinical Trials & Methodology 
      IRDR – Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction   
      Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering 
      Senate House UCL Hub 
      Student Centre Library Team 
      UCL Statistical Science 


      Bartlett Faculty Office 
      BASc Green Team 
      BSEER Green Team 
      BSSC Green Onions 
      Central Library Services 
      Cruciform Hub 
      Dementia Research Centre [ION] 
      Division of Surgery 
      Ear Institute Team 
      Green Team: Office of the President & Provost 
      ICH Library 
      Institute of Archaeology Library 
      Institute of Ophthalmology 
      IoO Library 
      Language & Speech Science Library 
      Legion of Eunomia 
      Main Library 
      Royal Free Library 
      School of Pharmacy Library 
      Science Library 
      Student Enquiry Centre 
      The Green Team at Prion 
      UCL Careers 
      UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory 
      UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology Admin
      UCL Queen Square Library 

      LEAF Awards


      Centre for Cell & Molecular Dynamics Imaging Unit 
      Confocal & Light Microscopy Core Facility 
      Darwin Research Facility (DRF) 
      Franz lab CBD 
      Immunosenescence and Ageing 
      Long/Scambler Lab (204/209)NMD 
      Mass Spec lab 
      Medawar Pain and Somatosensory Labs 
      Morris Lab and Schorge Lab 
      Parrinello Lab 
      Patricia Salinas Lab 
      PSL1/PSL2 and Clinical skills 
      Purton Lab 
      SoP-MSc Teaching/Instrumentation Laboratory (B56) 
      Tedesco Lab 
      Thrasher Lab 
      Waudby Lab (421) 
      Worm Lab Anatomy 2nd Floor


      Centre for Clinical Microbiology 
      Dubowitz Neuromuscular centre 
      Farrant/Cull-Candy Lab 
      G16 Electrochemistry Lab 
      GGM MBRD 1st Floor 
      ICH - Ground Floor Labs (Jenkins et al) 
      ICH - Respiratory Infection 
      Knapp Lab 
      LG30 - Volpe Lab 
      LG31 - Clarke Group 
      Pallett lab (IIT) 
      UCL Genomics 
      Williams Lab 
      ZCR Cancer 


      Barnes Lab 
      Booth (ZCR) 
      BSU Biological Services 
      Carmalt and Parkin Research Group 
      Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy Labs 
      Crompton Lab 
      Cruciform 3.4
      Depatment of Clinical and Movement Neuroscience
      Department of Neuromuscular Diseases 
      Department of Neurodegenerative Diseases
      DSIS labs 
      Ear Institute Labs 
      Flow Cytometry Core Facility Lab 
      Fly Lab Rockefeller 
      GCLP Facility 
      Geography Labs 
      Graham Lab 101 
      ICH Lab Management Team 
      IoO Labs 
      Kurian Lab – ZCR 
      MRC Prion Unit at UCL 
      Neural Computation Laboratory – Cruciform Wing 2.2 
      NMD – Cruciform Building 
      PALS LEAF Lab 
      Rheumatology labs - Rayne 
      Sainsbury Wellcome Centre 
      School of Pharmacy Teaching Labs 
      Spinal Repair Unit 
      UK DRI 
      Wedderburn Lab 
      Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging 
      WHO PSLR 
      WLDI Skin Lab 

          Read more about the Green Impact teams 

          Read more about the LEAF teams

          Get involved

          We extend a heartfelt thank you to all the individuals and teams who have contributed to our remarkable sustainability achievements this year. Our staff, students, Green Impact, and LEAF teams, as well as our Special Award winners, have been instrumental in making these accomplishments possible. As we continue our journey, we invite everyone at UCL to join us. If you are eager to be part of a Sustainable UCL, you can find out how to get involved below. Together, we can make #ChangePossible.