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Launch of UCL’s new Sustainability Strategy

By Catherine L Sharp, on 30 October 2019

The launch of UCL’s new Sustainability Strategy last Thursday evening was appropriately held in the new Student Centre, a building that has been awarded the highest BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) rating, recognising its sustainable design and construction. The event began with the Provost celebrating UCL’s key commitment to divesting from fossil fuels by the end of 2019.

We were treated to some inspiring words from Professor Geraint Rees, Chair of UCL’s Sustainability Steering Group (also Dean of Life Sciences and UCL Pro-Vice-Provost (AI)), and Richard Jackson, UCL’s Sustainability Director. Prof Mark Miodownik gave a fascinating talk about the work that UCL academics are doing on sustainability, particularly his EPSRC-funded project Designing-out Plastic Waste, which brings together UCL academics in Chemistry, Engineering, and Behavioural Science to research, design and introduce solutions to the plastic waste problem. UCL has committed to achieving a plastic-free campus within the next five years.

The new strategy focuses on three signature campaigns:

Positive Climate
The goals of this campaign include net zero carbon buildings by 2024; a net zero carbon institution with UCL generating all its own renewable energy by 2030; exploring ways to help staff and students reduce the impact of their travel; and introducing 100% vegetarian catering for events and hospitality.

The Loop
This campaign focuses on tackling unsustainable consumption by supporting UCL’s local economy and specifying products with the highest environmental and wellbeing standards. By 2021, social environmental and modern slavery audits will be carried out on UCL’s largest suppliers, and sustainability ratings will be introduced on products both online and in canteens.

Wild Bloomsbury
This campaign aims to introduce nature-based solutions to Bloomsbury by working with Camden and UCL local partners. By 2024, UCL will create 10,000m2 extra biodiverse space – the equivalent of around one and a half football pitches. This will include green walls, brown roofs and pocket gardens to increase biodiversity and reduce the impacts of pollution in the heart of London. Other measures include developing an active travel strategy and launching live air pollution monitoring for the UCL campus.

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