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Sustainability in action

We're putting sustainability at the centre of everything we do at UAL.

Construction and refurbishment

Over the past 10 years, we’ve invested £350 million across all our campuses. Our libraries have a brand-new look, we’ve revamped historic buildings and built state-of-the-art new facilities, plus we’re proud to be one of the most sustainable universities in the world. Our Design brief for Sustainable Development (PDF 274KB) ensures that all new major developments achieve BREEAM Excellent and an Energy Performance Certificate rated ‘A’. This policy has helped us to create sustainable buildings at all four campuses.

Our Design brief for Sustainability Checklist (PDF 274KB)

Our Washroom Design Guide (PDF 902KB)

Our UAL Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Design Particulars (PDF 760KB)

Travel and transport

Staff and student travel is a significant contributor to UAL's Scope 3 emissions. We want to try and reduce this by encouraging sustainable transport through the Travel Plan.

Cycling to our Colleges

On top of having access to London's world class public transport network, UAL has great facilities for staff and students to make cycling to work that much easier including:

  • Over 600 secure parking spaces
  • Showering facilities available across the colleges
  • Funding to buy a bike as part of the government's Cycle to Work initiative.

Our Workplace Travel Plan (PDF 486KB)

Environmental auditing and management

UAL’s Environmental Management Systems (EMS) are ISO14001 accredited. We have a system dedicated to Sustainable Learning, Teaching, and research, while the scope of the University's management system for Business Operations (PDF 230KB) can be found in the ISO14001 Aspects Diagram (PDF 158KB) along with the ISO4001 certificate (PDF 116KB).

The aspects, also known as key performance indicators (KPIs) are audited at each site annually. This allows the university to manage its environmental responsibilities in a systematic manner. The EMS helps the University to achieve its intended outcomes which are:

  • enhancement of environmental performance;
  • fulfillment of compliance obligations;
  • achievement of environmental objectives;
  • the EMS is independently verified to be true and correct.

UAL is also accredited to ISO50001, the management system for energy efficiency and you can see  the ISO 50001 Certificate (PDF 99KB).

The scopes of this EMS 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 Sustainability Scorecard. View our AUDE Sustainability Scorecard (PDF 376KB).

Carbon management

At UAL we’re committed to reducing carbon emissions (see our SMART action plan (PDF 67KB) – this is something that we’ve been working on since 2013. We've invested £1.5 million into the reduction of carbon emissions from our estate and saw carbon emissions fall.

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

Scope 1 and 2 emissions

These are emissions linked to utility consumption within our estate, and at UAL our major consumption is on site use of gas and electricity. We 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 accredited 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. The definition of Scope 3 emissions includes:

  • Supply chain emissions
  • Business transport
  • Staff and student commuting

Our scope 3 emissions are also reported annually to HESA, and our total Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions are shown in this graph (Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions (PDF 41KB)

Emissions from residential buildings

We report emissions from the residential halls that we control on our Carbon Dashboard.

Waste and recycling

UAL has a two stream waste and recycling scheme (PNG 145KB)  and we send no waste to landfill. In 2019/20 we produced just over 1000 tonnes of waste and only 25% went into skips.

We also encourage all students to incorporate sustainable materials into their projects, putting an emphasis on recycling materials and 'building to dismantle' end of year shows.

Our waste management is ISO compliant, meeting all legal and statutory requirements.

Ethical investment and workers rights

Ethical investment

UAL were 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 (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.

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 Universities 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 Statements.

Sustainable procurement is audited through the CIPS Index and through the Principles of Responsible Investment (UAL is a signatory). View the ISO14001 action plan and targets for each of these areas - UAL Action Plan 2020 (PDF 222KB).

Sustainable food

Agriculture and transportation of food has a big environmental footprint. This is because of 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 (certified through Baxter Storey who provide all university catering). UAL works with Baxter Storey 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)) and across our sites such as the new vegan café at LCC and 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.