Sustainable UCL


Switch off for Christmas and give a gift to the environment!

27 November 2023

Last Christmas, we saved an incredible 107 tonnes of carbon over the closure – that’s equivalent to planting 1,783 trees!* This saved UCL an amazing £140,023 over the festive period.

Christmas tree with lights, covered with text reading 'Christmas Switch Off'

In 2019, UCL committed to be net zero carbon by 2030. Whilst we have taken lots of actions, including switching to 100% renewable electricity, one way to further reduce our carbon footprint is to reduce our overall energy use. This means switching equipment off when not in use and reducing UCL’s use of heating, cooling and lighting.   

UCL spends an astonishing £3,000 per hour overnight on our overall electricity use. Sustainable UCL and the Estates team are working hard centrally to reduce our energy, but all of our personal actions can make a difference too!  

This year, let’s give a gift to the environment and cut our carbon emissions. Let’s make energy savings a new festive tradition! 

If you’re not convinced yet, there is a £100 prize up for grabs for the department or accommodation who pledges to switch off the most by Saturday 23rd December!   

How can I get involved?  

  1. Decide your switch off actions, by following our checklists here. Do you work in an office? Make sure your screens and appliances are completely off rather than on stand-by before leaving for the holidays. Are you living in halls? Check out what you can unplug before you go home.   

  2. Make your pledge to switch off via this form by Saturday 23rd December to be in with a chance to win prizes for your department and/or accommodation. There are prizes up for grabs for the department or division and the accommodation which has made the highest percentage of pledges.   

  3. Encourage others to switch off using the resources provided by Sustainable UCL, including email templates and posters. Join your Teams calls with our festive switch off themed background to let your colleagues and classmates know you are joining the campaign. Post about the Switch Off on social media, tagging @SustainableUCL and using the hashtag #ChangePossible. Include a picture of yourself showing yourself switching off if you can.   

Make your pledge to switch off

What are the prizes? 

  • For faculties/departments: The faculty/department with the most pledges (as a percentage of its total staff and students) will receive a £100 prize – you could use it to buy some new plants and add some green to your building! 
  • For accommodation: The accommodation with the most pledges (as a percentage of its total residents) will receive a £100 prize to be spent on a social activity for residents – that can buy a lot of pizza for the next common room movie night! 

How much impact do these changes actually have? Answer: a lot!   

  • Lighting a typical office overnight wastes enough energy to heat water for 1,000 cups of tea (The Carbon Trust).   

  • A PC monitor left on overnight can waste enough electricity to print over 500 pages (Energy Saving Trust).   

  • Air conditioning an office for an extra hour a day uses enough energy in a month to power a TV for over a year (The Carbon Trust).   

  • Leaving a computer on overnight for a year, creates enough CO2 to fill a double decker bus (The Carbon Trust).  

  • A typical window left open overnight in winter will waste enough energy to drive a small car over 35 miles (The Carbon Trust).  

Please note: Buildings will be open according to the standard Sunday schedule throughout the closure period (i.e., if your building is closed on Sundays, it will be closed every day).  

Check out our Christmas Switch Off resources here!

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