University of the Arts London (UAL) has been named the 19th greenest university in the UK and the country’s highest ranking arts university in People & Planet’s University League; the UK’s only comprehensive and independent ranking of universities by ethical and environmental criteria.
Climbing 25 spots since last year, the position reflects the impact of year-on-year improvements implemented at UAL over the past 6 years, when we prioritised action to tackle the urgency of climate change and to make UAL a much more sustainable and environmentally friendly place for our staff, students and wider communities.
The result progresses UAL from a 2:1 ranking to a prestigious first-class position, an achievement shared by only 30 other universities. Notable score improvements were made in Energy Management Systems, Carbon Management, Workers Rights and overall Environmental Policy.
We began by investing significant resources in reducing the environmental impact of our business operations in 2013 and saw carbon emissions fall as a result. We pledged to cut carbon emissions by 43% by 2020, which we’re on track to achieve.
Changes to our recycling contract in 2014 have ensured that non-recyclable waste is diverted away from landfill with collected food waste transported to an anaerobic digester to produce ‘green gas’.
In 2016, through a mix of interventions and changes in behaviour and with the help of our Sustainability Working Group, we achieved a downward trend in our energy use that continues today.
In 2017 we launched our Sustainability Manifesto, an action plan to continue reducing our carbon footprint up until 2022; and in 2018 we switched our electricity contract to 100% renewable energy generated from UK sources.
Awards and accolades
Over recent years, we have been pleased to gain multiple awards and accolades for our environmental performance, including:
- Ten Green Gown Awards (and 3 times highly commended)
- Two Green Apple Awards
- One Royal Institute of British Architects Sustainability Award
- One Soil Association Gold Award
- One Ethical Procurement Award from the Observer
Sustainability is a key part of operations and learning and across UAL and many of our courses dedicate time and resources to teaching sustainable practices and ideas. We were the first English Higher Education Institution to sign up to the ‘Principles of Responsible Investment’ and one of the first to look at divesting away from the fossil fuel industry.
Our commitment to sustainability is one of the ways that we create an inspirational environment at UAL, which is one of 4 priority areas in our 2015-22 Strategy. Find out more about sustainability at UAL.
Image: Grey to Green event, 2009, London College of Communication UAL.