UCL does incredible things. But powering our campus and operations has a big impact. We need to radically reduce our carbon emissions. And we need your help to do it.
Create your plan for a low-carbon UCL
Below you’ll find 12 different carbon-reducing actions. The first half are about improving UCL’s estate. The others are about supporting behaviour change from students and staff. Spend your budget on the activities you think should be a priority for UCL. Please be aware all figures used are indicative, and are used to illustrate the approximate benefits of different approaches.
This Degrees of Change tool formed part of a 2015 consultation on the future of UCL’s carbon emissions. The consultation has now closed, but you can still use this tool to devise your own approach to UCL’s carbon reduction challenge. This is a project by the UCL Sustainability Team, based on research by Dr Tom Cohen. Find out more, including how your data will be used.
In this section, you can spend your budget on activities to improve UCL’s buildings and infrastructure.
Solar panels, also known as solar photovoltaics, use the sun's energy to produce electricity. Installing these on UCL’s buildings could be a visible and effective way for us to generate more of our own energy. But remember: UCL has a limited amount of roof space.
5% of the energy UCL consumes is used for lighting. Low-energy alternatives like LEDs could use up to 90% less electricity than old incandescent bulbs.
A green roof is a roof space that’s either partially or totally covered with plants. While they can help insulate buildings, their main benefits include creating wildlife habitats, retaining water to prevent flooding and lowering air temperatures. And remember: UCL has a limited amount of roof space.
UCL imports much of its energy from the National Grid. Around 28% of this is generated from renewable sources. By investing in offsite renewable energy technologies (e.g. offshore wind turbines) UCL could help increase the amount of the UK’s energy generated from renewable sources.
Much of UCL is served by a district heating network, powered by gas-driven Combined Heat and Power (CHP) engines. Upgrading the CHP and installing more efficient boilers and air conditioning units could create large energy savings.
It takes a lot of energy to heat and cool UCL’s buildings. Insulation is all about conserving heat in the winter and keeping cool in the summer. This usually consists of using insulating materials to prevent heat loss through roofs and walls, and installing double glazing.
In this section, you can spend your budget on activities to help support behaviour change from staff and students.
Lots of UCL’s lights, equipment and appliances are left on unnecessarily. And if the whole UCL community worked to tackle this, we could save a large amount of energy. To get everyone on board, we’d need awareness campaigns, equipment timers and much better signage.
Our labs are responsible for some incredible breakthroughs. But they use a lot of energy. Through actions like closing fume cupboard sashes, using more efficient equipment and putting timers on high energy use equipment, substantial savings could be made.
Increasing the number of staff and students that walk and cycle to UCL could help reduce our carbon emissions and improve local air quality. With more bike racks and showers, awareness campaigns and cycle training, we could help the UCL community take the next step to more active travel.
Educating staff and students to dress appropriately and accept higher and lower building temperatures aligned to seasonal variations and occupancy levels would save lots of energy. But alongside this, we’d also need to improve controls for heating and cooling across the university.
Presenting at international events is seen as an important part of furthering research and academic career progression. The carbon impact of flying to these events is huge; larger than powering UCL’s whole campus. Investing in videoconferencing and awareness-raising campaigns could have an impact, but fundamentally, this is about individual travel choices.
Over 60% of UCL’s emissions come from producing the goods and services we purchase. By sharing high energy use equipment across departments and using resource-sharing websites like Quartzy and Warpit, we can make a real reduction to purchasing of new chemicals, furniture and equipment.
Please note the consultation has now closed, but you can still use this tool to devise your own approach to UCL’s carbon reduction challenge.
Degrees of Change is a collaboration between UCL Sustainability Team and designer and developer Rory Pickering, based on research by Dr Tom Cohen. Find out more, including the tool’s terms and conditions and how your data will be used.