Environment & Sustainability

Engaging in Sustainability

At UAL, sustainability has become a key part of learning and operations, with many courses dedicating time and resources to the teaching of sustainable practices and ideas while UAL's carbon emissions are falling.

This short video explains the importance of sustainability to the UAL community and outlines how you can help. 

In Energy and Environment, supported by the rest of the Estates team, we want to make sure that energy efficiency and sustainability is made a priority across UAL.

We have already made huge steps forward, with the rolling out of new energy efficiency measures designed to lower usage, as well as new processes for waste disposal, designed to increase recycling while eliminating landfill.

UAL has several platforms which allow both students and staff to engage in sustainability, they are:

  • Meet the tide logo.
    Logo: Energy and Environment in Estates at UAL.

    Meet The Tide

    A blog platform for students to engage in sustainable Art and Design, with monthly design competitions. Students can also see their own carbon budget, giving them their share of UAL’s total carbon output.

  • Green grass image for sustainability blog.
    (c) UAL image library

    Sustainability documentation

    Find information and documentation relating to UAL's sustainability, energy and environmental policies and plans

  • Electricity usage at Lime Grove depicted using cotton.
    (c) Energy and Environment

    UAL carbon dashboard

    Site managers and Estates staff can see just how their sites are performing. We hope staff outside Estates as well as students also use the site to see how their building is performing.

How does UAL compare with other HEIs?

 In 2015, UAL was ranked 61st in the People and Planet Green League with a 2:1 result. Read on below to find out more about our sustainability initiatives and progress since then. 

Environmental Sustainability Policy and Strategy

Sustainability Policy and Strategy

UAL’s commitment to sustainability is embodied in the UAL Strategy 2015-22. One of the key goals, delivering an inspirational environment, will be achieved by:

delivering sustainable new environments for our staff and students

The success of this will be measured by UAL’s carbon footprint. This is one of the key selected indicators that UAL will assess itself against during the period of the strategy.

At a more detailed level, UAL has a comprehensive Environmental Policy November 2015 (PDF 117KB) with specific and achievable targets which is overseen by the Sustainability and Environment Project Board, a committee of senior staff members. It was first published in 2013 (see Sustainability and Environment Project Board Meeting Minutes March 2013) and was most recently updated (see Sustainability and Environment Project Board Meeting Minutes 15-10-2015) in 2015 to make the targets more explicit and reflect the university's progress, for example, in attaining ISO 50001 accreditation.  

 Construction and refurbishment

 UAL is committed to ensuring works improve our environmental performance. Our target in our Environmental Policy November 2015 (PDF 117KB) to achieve BREEAM Outstanding for Buildings over £1m and SKA gold for refurbishments over £0.5m is supported by the Design Brief for Sustainability Checklist (PDF 39KB)

Our first new building completed since the policy was released; a studio at Wimbledon College of Art; achieved BREEAM Outstanding, was shortlisted for a BREEAM award in 2015 and won the Ashden Award at the New London Architecture Awards in 2016.


We want to use our central London sites to ensure biodiversity and habitat is improved within the city.  Our Biodiversity Action Plan (PDF 1,301KB) assesses the baseline biodiversity of our sites and sets out targets for improving this. It is supported by a program of enhancing green spaces and bee keeping across our sites (see more on London College of Fashion's Green Spaces program)

Community Involvement

UAL Sustainability has an online platform, meetthetide, which provides a blog and twitter presence to publicise and improve sustainability networks at UAL. Specific colleges at UAL also run community engagement campaigns, in particular Better Lives at London College of Fashion.

 Travel and transport

Being based in central London, UAL does not own cars or have significant parking facilities at most sites. However, as we operate teaching spaces and offices across thirteen sites in London, we also have significant travel between sites. The UAL Workplace Travel Plan (PDF 339Kb) encourages use of cycling and walking and web meetings to reduce emissions. This has been successful in reducing scope 3 emissions as discussed under Carbon Management section below. 

Waste management

 UAL sends no waste to landfill. We have a target within our Environmental Policy November 2015 (PDF 117KB) to increase recycling and decrease resource intensity of our operations. Waste production data is collected and published on the UAL Carbon Dasbhoard web site. This is updated monthly.

Sustainable procurement

 UAL acknowledges that our procurement is one of the largest impacts UAL has. Our Ethical & Sustainable Procurement Strategy (PDF 280KB) provides an overview of our environmental and scoial position on procurement and guidance on how to uphold these values. Our work to improve our visibility of our supplier's supply chains through the CIPS Index was shortlisted for the Guardian's Observer Ethical Award in 2015 (see the shortlist). 


 We have a target to reduce water consumption by 5% on sites within our Environmental Policy November 2015 (PDF 117KB). Water usage is also tracked and reported upon monthly on the UAL Carbon Dashboard

 Human Resources

The Team

UAL’s sustainability team is:





 Ian Lane Head of Sustainabilityrepresents sustainability at a senior management level and provides strategic advice and policy improvements. Ian's role in UAL is situated in the Estates Department as shown in this Organisational Chart. In addition, Ian also provides strategic input to the university's strategic sustainability agenda as evidenced by the policies on the Sustainability Documentation section of this website which are sponsored by Ian such a sustainable procurement, biodiversity and sustainable travel. i.lane@arts.ac.uk
Victoria JohnsenLondon College of Fashion Sustainability Co-ordinatorco-ordinate operational and engagement activities at the London College of Fashion to improve both physical performance, e.g. recycling rates and energy use, and awareness and engagement with sustainabilityv.johnsen@fashion.arts.ac.uk

Clare Silcock

Energy and Major Projects Support Officermanaging energy invoices and data records, lead ISO 50001 compliance, provide support to major projects and staff and student engagement with sustainabilityc.silcock@arts.ac.uk


Sustainability Resources

UAL's budget for utilities has reduced consistently due to decreased consumption and flexible procurement with The Energy Consortium. This leaves the budget for other sustainability efforts such as engagement events, consulting and supporting staff and student projects in a strong position

Environmental Aduiting and management


 Audits on waste, travel, sustainable procurement, water, consutruction and refubishment and biodiversity were undertaken with the formulation of these specific strategies as discussed above. 


UAL achieved ISO 50001 accreditation in 2015 as evidenced by our ISO 500001 Certificate.  This was the culmination of the significant work done to set the energy baseline as outlined in the UAL Carbon Management Plan (PDF 543KB) and create a robust monitoring process. This is explained more on the UAL Carbon Dashboard
 Ethical Investment
Ethical Investment

In 2015, UAL announced its intention to divest from fossil fuel, starting with its endowment fund in this public press release. Subsequently, UAL has signed the principles of the Responsible Investment Gropu and formed an Ethical Investment Committee made up of senior management, finance, sustainability and student representatives. You can read the minutes of recent meetings Ethical Investment Committee Meeting Minutes 24-02-2016 and Ethical Investment Committee Meeting Minutes 7-01-2016. These are also published on meet the tide.

This committee has ratified a Responsible Investment Policy which sets out the criteria against which future investments of UAL's endowment funds will be tested to ensure money is not used in activities relating to exploitation of workers, natural resources or animals. This policy can be found on the UAL website under the Strategy and Governance section of the About UAL section, as part of the public information available there.  

Carbon Management
 Carbon Management The comprehensive UAL Carbon Management Plan (PDF 543KB)‌ sets out targets in line with sector standards. The carbon management plan sets out targets for both direct (scope 1 & 2) emissions and indirect (scope 3) emissions, with appropriate plans to reduce both.

The Carbon Management Plan was published in 2013. 

Scope 1 & 2 emissions

Scope 1 & 2 emissions are those due to utility consumption within our estate. Our major consumption is due to gas and electricity consumption on sites.

Our performance against these can be tracked monthly on the UAL Carbon Dashboard website. We also report annually to HESA through the EMR.

The energy monitoring system UAL uses is proven to be robust through accreditation of it through ISO 50001.

Our total Scope 1 & 2 emissions are tracking on target as shown in this graph of historical progress marked against the target to 2020. UAL's carbon emissions against our target.

Scope 3 emissions

UAL has also set a baseline and target for reduction of Scope 3 emissions particularly those due to transport. Our scope 3 emissions are reported annually to HESA as well.

Emissions from residential buildings

We report emissions from residential halls over which we have retained control. However externally provided accommodation for UAL is not included in the carbon target. 

 Workers Rights
Electronics Watch

UAL is a member of the London University Purchasing Consortium (LUPC). LUPC are a founding member of the Electronics Watch initiative to enhanec the security and health of electronics workers. Read more about Electronics Watch on the LUPC website

CIPS Index

The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) publish an index framework to give purchasers more visibility on the supply chain of their products and services. UAL has worked with our major suppliers to guide them through the CIPS Index. This has allowed us to push suppliers to consider their ethical responsibility more fully and allow us to distinguish between suppliers. 

 Sustainable Food
Sustainable Food

Agriculture and transportation of food have a big environmental footprint in terms of carbon and the impact on soil and biodiversity.

The UAL Sustainable Food Policy (PDF 313Kb) set out the goals for UAL to reduce its environmental and ethical impact through the type of food served, its location and procurement.

In 2014, UAL was one of the first universities to achieve Gold Standard under the Soil Associaton's Food for Life rating scheme as explained in this UAL news article. This means that all food served at UAL is assessed to high environmental and ethical standards including fish and seafood equal to Marine Stewardship Council standards. All meat is sourced from the UK and local produce is used where possible. 

UAL works with Baxter Story, our catering partner, to improve the health and  environmental impacts of food. Baxter Story promote a real food website to publish menus and extra information about the food. 

In May 2016, all UAL canteens served only vegetarian food for National Vegetarian Week. 

All sites provide free drinking water and microwaves for students to encourage them to reuse bottles and bring leftovers for lunch. 

Staff and Student Engagement
 Engagement Strategy

UAL has a staff and student engagement strategy under the brand meet the tide. This is a website with sustainability information and news as well as Twitter and Instagram accounts. It ties into branding on site such as on UAL bins to create a cohesive narrative. The meet the tide website and UAL carbon dashboard provide space for feedback and ongoing engagement of staff and students with sustainability at UAL.

UAL always runs a comprehensive program of events in Green Week. Last year, we ran a number of events including natural dye workshops, zero waste beauty workshops and debates and film screenings. You can read the wrap up on meet the tide. In 2015, a cross-college collaboration program called Waste Off was launched in Green Week. This involved students across all colleges using recycled materials to create new, helpful products. After the formal program finished, an alumnus of UAL was commissioned to provide bespoke furniture made of recycled wood to UAL's new cafe at Camberwell College of Art. You can watch a video of this journey through the UAL Estates team vimeo

This work is supported by the Communications Strategy.

In 2015, we held three workshops across the colleges to canvas people's opinions on the future direction sustainability at UAL. The findings of these workshops are available here:

-London College of Fashion Sustainability Workshop Minutes

-Central St Martins Workshop Report

London College of Communication Workshop Report

The findings from these workshops and an accompanying online survey are being fed into the development of a new sustainability framework under the sustainability strategy to be launched in 2016.

UAL also provide a sustainability project fund. 

Students are represented on important sustainability committees throughout the university including the Ethical Investment Committee which is attended by members of UAL Divest. 

Education for Sustainable Development

Education for Sustainable Development

UAL recognise the importance of sustainability teaching across the wide range of courses we offer. UAL's Research Strategy for 2015-22 focuses on research and teaching to manage environmental change and build community resilience. 

We look for opportunities to involve students in sustainability operations at UAL where possible. The development of a new accommodation block at Camberwell College of Art (currently under construction) offered an opportunity to involve students from the Central St Martins Spatila Practices Programme who delivered ideas for the development of the new block to main contractors and UAL Estates team. Read more information about it on the UAL news feed.


Research and Innovation


A number of research hubs at UAL also advance sustainability in teaching and reputation of UAL. These are:

- Centre for Sustainable Fashion which provides leading research and leadership on sustainable fashion, including involvment in collaborative exercises such as the COPtimist project and creation of projects such as Dress for Our Time before the Paris climate talks. Visit their website

- The Textile Futures Research Centre investigates sustainable and ethical innovations in textiles 

- Design Against Crime  investigates ways to use art and design to create safer and more sustainable urban environments

Green Scorecard

UAL's performance on the AUDE Green Scorecard is shown above. This is based on the combination of Estates Management Records (EMR) data and our responses to questions in the above areas.