Environment & Sustainability

Environment &


University for the Creative Arts (UCA) is committed to sustainable development and reducing the environmental impact of activities through our teaching, research and day to day operations.

UCA’s approach to sustainability focuses on eight core areas:

  1. Policy and governance structures led by the Vice Chancellor, managed by Estates and Facilities, and monitored through cross-campus, cross-curricula Environment & Social Sustainability Working Group (ESSWG)
  2. Integration of Education for Sustainability into all UCA courses
  3. Research and knowledge transfer activities related to sustainability has been completed by The Centre for Sustainable Design® since 1995
  4. Commitment to improving environmental performance e.g. 44% reduction in carbon emissions between 2017/18 and 2005 baseline
  5. Integration of sustainability into procurement policy and guidelines
  6. Improving the provision of sustainable food by Catering Services
  7. Encouragement of staff and students engagement in social and environmental sustainability projects
  8. Awareness raising on sustainability through the organisation and promotion of events and activities.

A commitment to sustainable development is highlighted in UCA’s Strategic Plan 2013-18. Strategic leadership responsibility for Sustainability is held by the Vice Chancellor (VC) and operational responsibility is held by the Director, Estates & Facilities (E&F).

A University Sustainability Officer (SO) was appointed in 2016 as part of the Estates & Facilities team. The main job function of the SO is ‘to act as the University champion in promoting sustainability and sustainable management techniques through the development and implementation of University-wide environmental and sustainability policies, practices and management systems’.

The SO reports progress and seeks input on the Sustainability Programme at Campus Operations Group Meetings and submits papers to the University Leadership Team for review and approval. The annual report is submitted for review and approval to the University Audit and Risk Committee and is reported to the Board of Governors.

The Sustainable Travel Group (STG), chaired by the SO, was formed in 2018, to develop Sustainable Travel Plans at each campus to reduce the environmental impact of staff and student travel. STG membership includes staff from Estates & Facilities, Human Resources, Health & Safety and a representative from the Students Union.

In 2014/15 The Learning and Teaching Committee, began a programme of academic support and development to incorporate Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in all UCA courses.

A survey of UCA students in 2015 found that 72% of students wanted to learn more about sustainability and three fifths of students were amenable to the inclusion of sustainability issues in their courses.

Since 2014/15, UCA’s Learning and Teaching Committee has held responsibility for developing plans for the integration of Education for Sustainable Development in all course curricula over a two-year period. Addressing the challenges of Sustainable Development is one of eight commitments related to all courses that is highlighted in the Creative Education Strategy (Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy).

The Centre for Sustainable Design® was established in 1995 at UCA Farnham and is led by Martin Charter, Professor of Innovation and Sustainability. The Centre has undertaken a wide range of international, national and regional research on sustainability, innovation and design - please see Current research interests include grassroots innovation and the emergence of community-centred workshops, the Circular Economy, eco-innovation and SMEs, and the development of localised innovation solutions utilising materials from waste plastic fishing nets and ropes, based in North Atlantic fishing communities - see for more details.

In June 2018, UCA Students' Union (UCASU) took part in the National Union of Students (NUS) Green Impact awards and were presented with a ‘Very Good’ Award in recognition of achievements in sustainability. This award recognises improvements since 2016, when the UCASU received a Bronze award under the previous grading scheme for NUS’s Green Impact Awards.

UCA’s third Carbon Management Plan was approved in 2016 and sets out plans to achieve a 37% reduction in absolute carbon emissions by 2019/20 compared to 2005 levels.

UCA met this target three years early at the end of academic year 2016/17, reducing absolute annual carbon emissions (CO2e) from energy consumption by over 37% compared to its 2005 baseline.

Progress has continued in 2017/18 with carbon emissions from energy consumption in buildings at 3,429 tonnes, exceeding the 2020 target by 483 tonnes. Emissions in 2017/18 were 12% lower than emissions in 2016/17 and 44% lower than the 2005 baseline of 6,188 tonnes.

Based upon current expectations UCA is projected to exceed its Carbon Emissions target and reduce absolute carbon emissions by 48% by 2019/20 (3,129 tonnes) compared to its 2005 baseline (6,188 tonnes).

Improvements in energy efficiency have significantly reduced carbon intensity (the weight of carbon emissions per square meter of internal area) from 75 kgCO2e/m2 in 2008/09 to 49 kgCO2e/m2 in 2017/18.

According to an independent league table (BriteGreen) of 127 English Universities, UCA is ranked 26th for percentage reduction in absolute carbon emissions between 2005 and 2015/16, and 7th for percentage reduction in carbon intensity (kgCO2e/m2).


A renewable energy source (solar photovoltaic panels) was commissioned at the Epsom campus in 2012 and in Farnham solar panels commissioned in 2017 generated two megawatt hours of electricity in 2017/18. Investment in renewable energy sources has continued, with additional solar PV installation at Farnham due to be commissioned in January 2019. There are also plans to install more solar PV and a combined heat and power system at Farnham in 2021.

Recycling schemes operate on all campuses and directly-managed student residences, and food waste composting and collection services operate at UCA Farnham and UCA Epsom. In addition surplus used office furniture is donated to causes local to campuses. In 2017, nearly 200 items of office furniture were donated to local charities in Farnham, including the Scouts, local residential care homes and a school.

The total weight of waste collected at our four campuses in 2017/18 is estimated at 577 tonnes (346 tonnes general waste and 231 tonnes of recyclables), a 10% increase compared to the previous year. The proportion of total waste recycled in 2017/18 has remained unchanged from the previous year at around 40% of total waste.

In December 2016, the University began to transition from a number of existing waste service contracts at each campus to one consolidated waste service provider across all four campuses. The transition to Suez Waste Services will be complete by February 2019. The new waste services are provided to the University under the South Coast Affinity Group (SCAG) agreement, which has provided services to seven other universities in the region. As part of the SCAG agreement UCA shares the ambition of diverting waste away from landfill for reuse and recycling.

A staff & student car sharing community UCA Liftshare was launched at all campuses in 2018 to reduce the impact of commuting by car.

A Sustainable Travel Plan was developed for Farnham campus in spring 2018. Plans for other campuses will be completed in 2019.

Our environmental and
sustainability commitment

The University for the Creative Arts is committed to safeguarding a liveable climate for all. It declares that it has no direct investments in companies involved in the carbon energy industry, including those involved in extracting fossil fuels, and commits to ensuring that adverse climate impact will be avoided in any future corporate investments it may make.

We have students studying with us from across the world, many of whom come from communities who are already feeling the effects of climate change. We want to help protect the environment for all our students and their communities – past, current and future.

We understand that many UK Higher Education Institutions have similarly committed to divest or avoid such investments in some way and we hope that many more of our fellow educational institutions will join us and add their voice to this movement.

UCA continues to be committed to managing carbon emissions from our own operations. Since 2005, we have reduced our absolute carbon emissions from energy consumption by 44%. We are ranked in the University Carbon League Tables (BriteGreen, 2016) in 26th place out of 127 English Universities in terms of percentage reduction in absolute carbon emissions in 2014/15 compared to 2005. For further information on sustainability, visit our environment and sustainability at UCA page.