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.

In 2016, UAL was ranked 36th in the People and Planet Green League with a 2:1 result.

UAL is committed to implementing a strategy that will improve our rankings on People and Planet’s University League. Read on to find out more about our sustainability initiatives and progress. 

Progress against 2015 strategy

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 as listed on the UAL Sustainability Blog.

It was first published in 2013 and was updated in 2015 to make the targets more explicit and reflect the University's progress, for example, in attaining ISO 50001 accreditation.


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).

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.

Community involvement

UAL Sustainability has an online platform, Meet The Tide, 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.


UAL achieved its target to reduce carbon emissions by 22% by July 2016 - we redcuded emissions by 25%. UAL also acheived ISO 50001 accreditation in 2015 as evidenced by our ISO 50001 Certificate (PDF 118KB)

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.

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 social 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). 

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. 


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. ‌


Ian Lane, Head of Sustainability

Ian represents 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 as, sustainable procurement, biodiversity and sustainable travel.

Contact: i.lane@arts.ac.uk

Rebecca Smart, Energy and Major Projects Support Officer

Rebecca manages energy data records, leads ISO 50001 compliance and provides support to major projects. She also manages the platforms which engage staff and students with sustainability.

Contact: r.r.smart@arts.ac.uk

Rosemary Willatt , LCF Sustainability Co-ordinator

Rosie coordinates 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 sustainability.

Contact: r.willatt@fashion.arts.ac.uk

Gary Campbell, CSM Sustainability Co-ordinator

Like Rosie, Gary coordinates operational and engagement activities at one of the Colleges. He does this for Central Saint Martins. He works to raise awareness and increase engagement with sustainability amongst students and staff here, as well as improving the College’s environmental performance.

Contact: g.j.campbell@csm.arts.ac.uk

Environmental auditing & management

Environmental Management System

UAL has used many versions of Environmental Management Systems (EMS) to reflect the diverse nature of UAL activities. UAL has 18 buildings that are located across London, all offering an individual mix of learning, teaching and research activities. UAL Education for Sustainable Development offering is outstanding. To ensure our activities reflected this, UAL has used an EMS originally designed by the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges called the ‘LIFE’ system. This inforgraphic shows our progess - LIFE Inforgraphic (PDF 591KB). We also complete the annual return to the Association of Directors of Estates for their EMS – the AUDE Sustainability Scorecard. You can se your scorecard here - AUDE Sustainability Scorecard (PDF 376KB). In 2015, UAL was awarded its first internal standard for quality management system called ISO 50001 (see certificate). UAL is one of only six institutions to have been awarded this ISO standard. The scope of our ISO 50001 system includes every building in our portfolio, covering every activity that is undertaken in our buildings.

In 2016, UAL completed a BS 8555 audit (see report). This year, we have conducted a ISO 140001 assessment (see report) to further enhance how UAL manages and audits its environmental performance and progress. We cover waste management, travel and transport, sustainable procurement, energy, water and biodiversity across each EMS.

Carbon management

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 as it has been accredited by 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.

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 enhance the security and health of electronics workers. 

CIPS Index

The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) published 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

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 Association'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

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 a Twitter account. 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. In 2017, we ran a number of events including make your own natural cosmetics, fabric swaps, beekeeping and films.

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

London College of Communication Workshop Report

Central St Martins 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.

UAL also provide a sustainability project fund.

Education for sustainable development

UAL recognises 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. 

Research and Innovation

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 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.

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.
  • 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


Profile image of University League 2016

University League 2016

People and Planet’s University League is a comprehensive league table of UK universities ranked by environmental and ethical performance.