Environmental Sustainability Policy and Strategy

This page is a guide to our compliance with the People & Planet requirements.

People & Planet’s University League is a comprehensive and independent league table of UK universities ranked by environmental and ethical performance. It is compiled annually by the UK’s largest student campaigning network, People & Planet.

Our environmental policy is publicly available. Our Environmental Sustainability Policy is reviewed annually by the Sustainability Board, and signed off by the Vice-Chancellor.


View our Environmental Sustainability Policy


The Management Review as part of our Environmental Management System (EMS) was is held each January, and the latest version of the Environmental Sustainability Policy was signed March 2019.

Our environmental strategy sets out time-bound targets. The Environmental Sustainability Policy outlines the our commitment to the areas specified. Each area has its own strategy and policy documents that highlight the targets and timescales. The targets are reported and reviewed through the Sustainability Board, via quarterly reports from each Implementation Team. These are publicly reported through the Annual Environmental Report. Read more about our Sustainability Strategy and Policy.


Human Resources for Sustainability 

Sustainability is included within the portfolio of responsibilities of a member of the university senior management team.  Sustainability is included within the portfolio of responsibilities of three members of our Executive Team (the University’s Senior Management Team). Professor Dylan Edwards, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, chairs the Sustainability Board (Dylan Edwards took over from Professor Phil Gilmartin as Chair in May 2019). Professor Mark Searcey, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Science, and Jenny Baxter, Chief Operating Officer, are also Board members.

Staff working in dedicated sustainability roles are listed on the university website. Our Sustainability, Utilities and Engineering Department consists of 13 roles. Eleven members of staff work full-time. The Sustainable Laboratories Manager (0.2FTE) and Building Services Engineer (0.4FTE) work part-time.

Meet The Team

Staff are supported with a budget for sustainability and resourcing remains stable. Budget is available annually for Sustainable Performance and Energy Performance.

We have invested around £2 million in energy efficiency measures since July 2018. Phase 1 of these measures has reduced our energy use by 7% and Phase 2 has offset the energy use of the New Science Building.

We support a staff engagement scheme to involve staff in improving the environmental performance of the University. Our Sustainability Network is key to delivering campaigns and information across campus. We use Green Impact as a key tool to enable change making champions on campus, as well as running a monthly meeting schedule and a 'Focus On Month' programme to shape engagement.

Green Impact is taking a break for 2019/20, but teams are still working on projects this year.

Environmental Auditing and Management Systems

As a university, we have an externally verified environmental management system (EMS), which covers the whole University estate. We passed our ISO14001:2004 audit in May 2015 and the updated ISO14001:2015 Standard in May 2018. We also hold the EcoCampus Platinum award.

Ethical Investment 

We do not currently have an Ethical Investment Policy.

The University divested from fossil fuels in November 2017 and has signed up to the NUS Divest Invest commitment.

Carbon Management 

We have a publicly available carbon management plan which meets the Carbon Trust and most current Capital Investment Framework requirements. On 23 November, 2015, our Executive Team discussed and approved the 2015-2020 Energy and Carbon Reduction Programme.

The Sustainability Team, in collaboration with colleagues across Estates and UEA, will report annually on progress against the agreed target of reducing carbon emissions by 35% over the next 5 years and a 25% reduction in energy consumption.

Energy and Carbon Reduction Programme

Energy Efficiency and Carbon Reduction

We declared a joint climate and biodiversity emergency on World Environment Day, 5 June 2019We have committed to net-zero carbon emissions by at least 2050 and are currently investigating our pathways towards this.

Scope 3 emissions are included within our carbon management. Carbon emissions from waste, water and imported electricity are reported in each Annual Environmental Sustainability Report.

Based on EMR methodologies, 77.5% of our scope 1 and 2 emissions are related to non-residential activities and 22.5% are related to student halls of residence. This does not cover privately rented student houses.

Based on EMR methodologies, 51.9% of our reported scope 3 emissions are from non-residential activities and 48.1% are related to student halls of residence. This covers waste and water at the moment.

Workers Rights

Our students created the Fairtrade Society in 2016, which is working with Catering and the Sustainable Development Manager within the Sustainability, Utilities and Engineering Team to re-accredit us as a Fairtrade University.

We joined the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) in 2014, allowing us to work towards ensuring the factories we procure from are compliant with the WRC code of conduct. Joining also commits us to conducting business in a socially responsible and ethical manner, and to protect and preserve the global environment.

Electronics Watch: we belong to the Southern Universities' Purchasing Consortium (SUPC) to enable the university to access more financially beneficial contracts and frameworks, and centrally-managed auditing of suppliers and supply chains. SUPC is not a member of Electronics Watch, although they include the terms and conditions in any relevant contracts. For example, the Apple contract has the Electronics Watch T&Cs.

Sustainable Procurement

Sustainable Food

Our publicly available Sustainable Food Policy is currently under review. This document is reported to the Sustainability Board. The EMS Implementation Team for Catering involves University, Student Union, and contract caterer representatives.  For the first time, the Sustainable Food Policy will be institution-wide, including both Catering and outsourced providers on campus.

The Sustainable Food Policy commits us to providing sustainable fish, and Red Tractor meat. The Sustainability Team and central catering are working together to increase the provision of vegetarian and vegan food options, and to promote local sourcing. All milk is sourced from local dairies. All vegetables and meat come from a local supplier. The catering teams are focusing on waste reduction and on reducing water and energy use, including through the purchase of new, efficient dishwashers purchased in 2017. Tap water and water machines are available in all catering outlets. Keep Cups and the use of customers' own mugs are subsidised and actively promoted.

Several of our student societies support sustainable food, from local organic VegBox schemes to bulk purchase options through the Food Co-op Society, to the Green Growers Society's allotments.

For more information visit our sustainable food page.

Catering case study: New dairy contract brings improved accountability and visibility to campus milk


Staff and Student Engagement 

We are committed to student and staff engagement for sustainability. KPIs reported quarterly to the Sustainability Board are:

  • Maintain Sustainable Ways website as a live resource for staff, students, and interested stakeholders.
  • Increase @SustainableUEA social media engagement.
  • Maintain an active and progressive Sustainability Network, with a cross-section of staff and students represented.
  • Increase in number of participating Green Impact teams from the previous year (Green Impact is taking a break in 2019/20)
  • Use the Living Lab programme as an opportunity for enhancement of UEA and EMS development.

These targets are reviewed annually by the Communications and Engagement EMS Implementation Team, which includes representatives of UEA operations, students, staff and academic groups.

Students and staff have oversight and involvement in the development and ongoing monitoring of our Energy and Carbon Reduction Programme, and Environmental Policy and strategies. The Student Union has two representatives on the EMS Implementation Teams for 'Communications and Engagement' and 'Carbon Reduction', as well as two representatives on the Sustainability Board for overall oversight of the EMS and sustainability policy/ plan/ strategy.

Communication and Engagement Plan

Green Impact Programme

Engagement opportunities for sustainability are a component of student induction processes. The Sustainability, Utilities and Engineering Department work with the Sustainability Society and Enactus UEA to deliver stalls throughout Welcome Week, as well as hosting events for specific networks. Members of the Department also deliver welcome talks to a number of academic programmes, including all new students of the School of International Development, and Health Sciences (including nursing and paramedic students, who are largely based off-campus). Students in their first year live in on-campus accommodation. All students receive information on waste management and sustainable travel, and on wider sustainability projects within their Accommodation Handbook.

Education for Sustainable Engagement 

We are in the process of mapping current ESD activity, and supports student and staff engagement in ESD development. The University is investing resource and finances in improving institutional awareness of opportunities to increase ESD; the Sustainable Development Manager attended an international conference in September 2017 following separate national and international learning network opportunities.

We are the a co-founder of the Aurora Network. Network members are committed to working together to find solutions to globally relevant problems, in areas such as sustainability, climate and energy, digital technology and human life and health. Members are actively developing new models for ESD, including through use of the UN Sustainable Development Goals to help structure and report progress.

Our Living Laboratory for Sustainability enables student sustainability projects on campus. Examples of coursework or PhD investigations linked to sustainability projects within the University/ Estates include investigations into sustainable travel options; changing messaging to enhance water-saving; social governance for sustainability in the built environment; biodiversity audits and habitat surveys.

We support and highlight School, Faculty or Research team projects for Sustainable Development.