Sustainable UCL


Sustainable Built Environment

UCL occupies over 200 buildings, which include laboratories, libraries, museums, theatres, workshops and residences. UCL is working to ensure that our buildings are net zero carbon in operation as part of our commitment to net zero by 2030.

Building and construction commitments 

In 2018/19 UCL's carbon emissions from heating, cooling, powering and lighting our buildings were 55,000 tonnes. We would have to plant 1 million trees to absorb that amount of carbon.*

What is UCL doing? 

  • UCL has a Sustainable Building Standard that details the minimum standards and targets for the delivery of a sustainable built environment – it applies to all our construction projects;
  • Our new build projects and major refurbishments must achieve a minimum of BREEAM Excellent;
  • UCL is also supporting transformation of the built environment on smaller projects using our in-house Mini-Ska tool;
  • UCL is working with our construction partners to help reduce single-use plastics on building sites, including producing a a single-use plastics scorecard for construction sites with Mace; 
  • UCL's PEARL is the first building that can claim to be net zero carbon in it's operation. 

> Learn about our impact on construction from our Annual Sustainability Report

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

Sustainable buildings at UCL 


Building and construction initiatives 

Photograph of New Student Centre

Building standards

Our Standards set minimum sustainability requirements relevant to all types of construction projects.

Unisex toilet sign

Accessible and inclusive environments

UCL is removing physical and operational barriers to services to eliminate segregation and exclusion. 

heating pipes

Heating and cooling systems

Our aim is to provide a comfortable working temperature for our community while reducing our environmental impact.

A group of students on a UCL roof with solar panels

Decarbonising our energy supply

UCL is using a number of technologies to help reduce the carbon emissions – and energy costs – associated with our estate.

Plastic hub

Plastic free UCL

UCL is tackling single-use plastic use in our construction projects, office, labs and post. 

Image of LED light

Saving Energy at UCL

Find out more about UCL's various energy saving initiatives.

Sustainable building tools 

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Cost and Carbon Tool - Calculate cost and carbon implications of different design options from early project stages. 

Mini SKA Tool - simplified tool developed by the Environmental Sustainability team for use on small projects.


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BREEAM - UCL uses BREEAM to measure the progress of our promise to tackle climate change by building and running sustainable buildings.