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Sustainability at UAL

At UAL, sustainability is a key part of learning and operations. Many courses dedicate time and resources to teaching sustainable practices and ideas. Meanwhile UAL's carbon emissions are also falling.

We have made big steps forward through new energy efficiency measures and waste disposal processes. These aim to increase recycling while eliminating landfill.

Students and staff can engage in sustainability through:

  • Documentation relating to UAL's sustainability, energy and environmental policies and plans.
  • Consumption reports. You can view the university's carbon emissions, each college's electricity, gas and water consumption and waste production.
  • Get in touch - if you have an energy saving idea or would like to report an inefficiency such as lights left on or taps left running then please email Please provide as much information as possible: college, site, room/location, equipment type etc.

In 2019, UAL was ranked 19th in the People and Planet Green League with a 1st class result. You can see the breakdown of our score on the People and Planet website.

Read on to find out more about our sustainability initiatives and progress.

How we are progressing

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Environmental Sustainability Policy and strategy

The UAL Strategy 2015-22 shows UAL's commitment to sustainability. One of its key goals is to deliver an inspirational environment. This means delivering sustainable new environments for all our staff and students. The success of this is measured by UAL’s carbon footprint. The UAL Sustainability Manifesto (2016 - 2022) (PDF 99KB) is a sustainable business programme and it helps develop policy.

UAL has an Environmental Policy Statement 2019 (PDF 192KB) and a UAL Action Plan, v4 Feb 2019 (PDF 222KB). These have explicit targets which are overseen by the Sustainability Advisory Panel. The action plan covers 10 key areas with a 'SMART' target for each. This means all targets are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

The policy was first published in 2013 and is now updated each year. Its targets reflect the University's progress, for example, achieving ISO 50001 accreditation.

Please see all our policies and strategies.

Staff and student engagement

The University’s engagement strategy is the UAL Sustainability Manifesto (2016 - 2022) (PDF 99KB). This behavioural change programme promotes positive interventions by each individual. Further information can be found in section 6.2 of the Carbon Management Plan. The ’Big Survey’ measures engagement and takes place every 2 years. It shows an increase in awareness of environmental stewardship and social responsibility  2017 Staff Survey (PDF 71KB).

The engagement strategy is implemented by Ian Lane (Head of Sustainability) who also chairs the Working Group. The UAL Carbon Dashboard is updated by Rebecca Smart (Energy Projects Support Officer).

UAL’s Environmental Management System is ISO 14001 certified. This requires an engagement strategy which is explained in the UAL ISO 14001 Guidance Doc v4 (Business Operations) (2,167KB) and UAL ISO 14001 Guidance Doc v2 (Teaching, Learning and Research) (PDF 2.3MB).

Sustainability for learning, teaching and research is measured accordingly to 12 Key Performance Indicators (also referred to as ‘aspects’). You can view the performance in the R&O register, providing transparency for how UAL is responding to improving sustainability in the curriculum in the UAL Risks and Opportunities Register v2 (XLS 336KB)

Contribution to the Carbon Management and Sustainability Policy

Through the Sustainability Working Group any staff or student can contribute to the development and progress of the  UAL Carbon Management Plan v8 2020 (PDF 1.4MB).

They also contribute to the sustainability strategy - the  UAL Sustainability Manifesto (2016 - 2022) (PDF 99KB). This group uses an action-research approach. This encourages members to design carbon reductions actions and ways to implement sustainability. The manifesto provides topics of discussion and suggests where to take action. Members of the group decide what action to take.

An example of minutes from a previous meeting is in the Carbon Management plan.

If you would like to join the Working Group please contact Ian by emailing


During staff and student inductions the Sustainability Co-ordinator presents on sustainability at UAL. The talk centres on UAL’s approach to sustainability and how to become involved. This includes events and campaigns. For example - beekeeping, gardening, the Sustainability Projects Fund and the Sustainability Working Group. To view the presentation see the Carbon Management Plan or contact

Events and campaigns

UAL always run a comprehensive programme of events in Green Week. In 2018 we held 27 events which cover a range of activities. This included beekeeping, a natural dye workshop and a plastic recycling workshop. There were also academic activities such as tips on researching sustainability. View photos from the week.

Each year the University runs campaigns to promote environmental awareness among students and staff. One such campaign held in 2018 was ‘Useful or Beautiful’. This encouraged a creative response to the challenge of recycling and reducing waste. Participants salvaged discarded materials from the University. They  repurposed them into something useful, beautiful or both. The results were fantastic and you can view them in the gallery Other campaigns include ‘Cycle to Work Day’ and ‘World Environment Day’. UAL launched a campaign in Luxury Fashion and Sustainability. It was the world’s first online course in this topic, created alongside Kering (the global luxury group). It aims to strengthen sustainability education and sustainable practices in the luxury and fashion realms.


'The Exchange' provides professional development and funding to support sustainability and sustainability literacy. Find out more and read examples of previous funded projects.

The 'Sustainable Projects Fund', run by the London College of Fashion, is available for student and staff led sustainability projects.

Projects must enhance sustainability on campus. Many projects are funded each year with £500 available for each project. Applications are open to all students, staff and to alumni up to 6 months after their graduation. In 2018, staff working on the Footwear and Accessories courses used the fund to buy Piñatex®. This material is made from pineapple plant leaves and is an alternative to leather and synthetic leather. The leaves are an otherwise waste product from the pineapple fruit industry. Students and staff gain experience of designing and using an innovative, sustainable material.

For details on how to apply please contact

Staff have a Sustainability Budget 2017-18 (PDF 177KB). Read funding details of the UAL Carbon Management Plan v8 2020 (PDF 1.4MB).

Student representation and the Students' Union

There is student representation on strategic decision making. This is through Sustainability Advisory Panel (see Carbon Management Plan (section 6.2)). The Panel also includes the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the Director of Estates and the Head of Sustainability. The Sustainability Manifesto provides topics of discussion and suggests where to take action. Members of the group decide what action to take which is then approved by the Panel.

Students attend meetings with the College Deans to discuss improvements and decide actions. The Students' Union is signed up to ‘Green Impact Students’ Unions’.

Human resources for sustainability

Sustainability staff

Read about our Sustainability Staff (PDF 351KB).

Senior management

Various members of senior management have responsibility over sustainability at the University. This includes the Deputy Vice Chancellor, the Director of Estates and the Director of Finance, who are members of the Sustainability Advisory Panel. The panel approves, implements, monitors and advises on strategies and policies such as the Energy Policy, the Carbon Management Plan and the Sustainability Manifesto.

A community effort

The whole University community is key to the culture of sustainable development. Everyone is responsible for helping us achieve our environmental targets. You can read more about community contributions in the 'Staff and Student Engagement' section on this web page.

Other resources

Staff have a Sustainability Budget 2017-18 (PDF 177KB). Read funding details of the UAL Carbon Management Plan v8 2020 (PDF 1.4MB).

Environmental auditing and management

UAL’s Environmental Management System (EMS) is ISO 14001 certified. The scope covers the University’s full estate. See our ISO 14001 Aspects Diagram (PDF 158KB).

These aspects are audited at each site every 6 months. Sustainable procurement is audited through the CIPS Index and through the Principles of Responsible Investment (UAL is a signatory). View the ISO 14001 action plan and targets for each of these areas - UAL Action Plan, v4 Feb 2019 (PDF 222KB).

Through the EMS the University manages its environmental responsibilities in a systematic manner. The EMS helps the University to achieve its intended outcomes which are:

  • enhancement of environmental performance
  • fulfilment of compliance obligations
  • achievement of environmental objectives.

UAL is certified to ISO 50001 for its Energy Management System (see our Certificate (PDF 116KB). The scopes covers every building in our portfolio and every activity undertaken in our buildings.

We also complete the annual return to the Association of Directors of Estates for their EMS – the AUDE Sustainability Scorecard. View our AUDE Sustainability Scorecard (PDF 376KB).

Carbon management

Read about our UAL Carbon Management Plan v8 2020 (PDF 1.4MB)

Scope 1 and 2 emissions

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

Our performance against targets is available on the UAL Carbon Dashboard website. We also report annually to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) through the Estates Management Record process.

The energy monitoring system UAL uses is proven to be robust - it is certified to ISO 50001 (UAL ISO 50001 Certificate (PDF 118KB)).

Our total Scope 1 and 2 emissions are on target as shown in this graph (Scope 1 and 2 emissions (PDF 44KB)).

Scope 3 emissions

UAL has also set a baseline and target for reduction of Scope 3 emissions, particularly those due to transport (Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions (PDF 41KB)). Our scope 3 emissions are also reported annually to HESA.

Emissions from residential buildings

We report emissions from residential halls over which we have control.

Workers' rights

Electronics Watch

UAL is a full member and affiliate of Electronics Watch with full access to its reports and tools. Our affiliation to Electronics Watch has been extended through the London University Purchasing Consortium (LUPC). The LUPC is 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. This allows us to distinguish between suppliers.

Supply chain mapping

UAL is working with Action Sustainability to map its supply chain of office furniture. A preliminary investigation has produced a draft map for one of the University's most commonly purchased items - the office desk. Each component of the desk has been appraised for its environmental impact. This work has led onto the drafting of a furniture procurement policy which outlines a furniture procurement hierarchy. Please contact Ian Lane (Head of Sustainability) for further information:

The University is a member of the LUPC who conduct investigations, including site visits and worker interviews, to assess their (and therefore their members’) supply chains. These visits risk assess factory working conditions for possible human rights abuses including modern slavery. The LUPC will implement any necessary actions following the audit report. By being a member of the LUPC the university is committed to workers’ rights in the manufacturing of good for its use. Read the LUPC’s Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement (PDF 890KB).

Sustainable food

Agriculture and transportation of food has a big environmental footprint. This is due to the carbon emissions produced and the impact on soil and biodiversity.

The UAL Sustainable Food Policy (PDF 258KB) sets out our goals to reduce our environmental and ethical impact through the food served, its location and procurement.

In 2014, UAL was the first university to achieve Gold Standard under the Soil Association's Food for Life rating. Today all 8 catering outlets at all 6 Colleges and the hospitality menus are still Gold Rated.

This means that all food served at UAL is assessed to high environmental and ethical standards. This includes fish and seafood which is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. UAL works with Baxterstorey to reduce the environmental impacts of food. Local produce is used -  70% of the fruit and vegetables come from the south east. A major supplier is Chegworth Valley farm, less than 35 miles southeast of London. All meat comes from Rother Valley near Petersfield, Hampshire.

This local food is used on a regular basis in our menus (Example of a Previous Menu (PDF 192KB)) including in the new canteen at Camberwell as you can read in this news article. UAL was a case study in an academic paper which explains our use of local and sustainable food (view paper, section 4.2). Watch videos and read more about the vision and mission of canteen services at UAL.

There is space at the University to grow food. Four sites are home to honey bee hives. All students and staff are welcome to join in beekeeping activities to help produce, use and sell honey. On the roof terrace at Central Saint Martins staff and students created a green growing space where edibles such as strawberries and herbs are grown. This is maintained by the Green Roof Society.

All sites have free drinking water in catering outlets and across the sites in dispensers.

As stated in our food policy all future contracts will include a clause to the contract caterer, ensuring they maintain the Gold standard and accept inspection from the Soil Association as part of the contracted terms.

Education for sustainable development

UAL has a strong commitment to ESD. We recognise its importance in our learning, teaching and research. The UAL Research Strategy 2015-2022 (PDF 170KB) aims to build a more sustainable future through education and creative practice.

It considers:

  • Environmental change.
  • Communication.
  • Designing for new business models.
  • Social innovations.
  • Sustainable living.

The Research Strategy equips everyone with a future-facing outlook. It provides an understanding of how research fits into wider society. This includes sustainable living and lifelong health and wellbeing.

The Education for Sustainability Strategy (PDF 253KB) outlines the impact and activities of ESD at UAL. Reflecting the positive work at LCF, the framework maps our current status and initiatives. It provides an Action Plan for 2016 – 22. The plan builds breadth and depth in education for sustainability, its pedagogies and ambitions. Progress is tracked through Continuous Annual Monitoring. It is cross referenced with academic frameworks such as PRIME and reported to ADQA.

Staff network and share best practice with partners from different disciplines and territories such as European networks that also have sustainability interests. Staff engage with ESD through a development programme, online learning resources and through the  UAL Sustainability Manifesto (2016 - 2022) (PDF 99KB). Due to the size of the full document, it cannot be uploaded (please contact for a copy).

Training and support

The Exchange provides professional development and funding to support sustainability and sustainability literacy. This Curriculum Development Funding enables colleagues to test new ideas and develop curricula.

Colleagues can complete the Learning for Sustainability unit. They will reflect on sustainability issues in their area of academic practice. Findings are delivered to a wide University audience.

Read more information on sustainability and course design.

Examples of research and innovation at UAL

  • Centre for Sustainable Fashion provides leadership and research on sustainable fashion. This includes collaborations, before the Paris climate talks, with the COPtimist project and Dress for Our Time.
  • The Textile Futures Research Centre investigates sustainable and ethical innovations in textiles.
  • Design Against Crime investigates how to use art and design to make safe and more sustainable urban environments.
  • Industry Projects creates partnerships between companies and LCF students. Projects often involve sustainability such as the Nike Sustainable Materials Project.
  • We aim to involve students in sustainability operations at UAL where possible. Students delivered ideas for the new accommodation block to contractors and to the Estates team. The students were from the Spatial Practices Programme.
  • Through many of our courses and their assessments students contribute to improving sustainability. In MA Fashion FuturesMA Material Futures and MA Architecture students often build sustainability into their projects. An example is using the natural dyes from the Mare St garden or creating clothes from flax grown at LCF sites.

Ethical investment

The University was the first signatory from the higher education sector to commit to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). PRI is the world’s leading proponent of responsible investment which incorporates key environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into investment practices. It supports its international network of investor signatories in incorporating these factors into their investment and ownership decisions.

Fund managers acting on behalf of the University must be signatories of the PRI and the managers must invest based on the University’s definitions of ESG including screening out certain sectors outlined in the UAL Responsible Investment Policy v5 Jan 2019 (PDF 180KB).

The University’s PRI Transparency Report provides an annual progress report as well as information on responsibility for signing off investments and types of investment.