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. A sustainability strategy that is developed and monitored by a cross-campus, Sustainability Strategy Group, chaired by the Chief Operating Officer.
  2. Integration of Education for Sustainability into 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. our commitment to reach Net Zero carbon emissions from energy by 2030.
  5. Integration of sustainability into procurement policy and guidelines.
  6. Improving the provision of sustainable food by Catering Services.
  7. Encouragement of staff and student engagement in social and environmental sustainability projects.
  8. Awareness-raising on sustainability through the organisation and promotion of events and activities.

UCA is committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions from energy consumption by 2030, 20 years ahead of the government’s national target.

This ambitious target builds on the past achievements of UCAs carbon management programme which has helped to deliver a 56% reduction in absolute carbon emissions from the University’s four campuses since 2010, placing it in the top third of UK universities in terms of carbon reduction performance.

The University has undertaken more than 40 significant energy efficiency projects across its campuses since 2010 and increased on-site solar power generation by 600% since 2017. In 2019 UCA joined with 19 other universities in a 10-year Power Purchase Agreement to source 20% of its electricity from UK onshore wind farms. This was the first initiative of its kind in the UK.

UCA’s journey to Net Zero for energy consumption across all campuses by 2030 will include the phasing out of gas boilers and their replacement with electric heating and heat pump technology, further investment in energy efficiency and on-site renewables such as solar panels and purchasing more power from high-quality renewable sources.

In 2023, UCA was awarded £4.5 million in government grant funding towards a £9 million programme to decarbonise our Surrey campuses. Works, which are due for completion in 2025, will see carbon emissions reduce by up to 90% at these campuses.

UCA will also continue to monitor and reduce emissions associated with indirect impacts, by reducing waste and water consumption, further encouraging the use of low carbon business and commuter travel, and the inclusion of climate change criteria in our purchasing decisions. And, over the next year, UCA will work to improve data benchmarks to set future targets in these areas – in line with or in advance of the 2050 National target.

In a statement, UCA’s President and Vice-Chancellor Bashir Makhoul said: “Sustainability is not a topic we merely talk about at UCA - it’s an area where we drive action, leadership, and change. Our students deserve a robust response to the climate crisis, and we are actively engaging with them to co-create solutions. Our commitment to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 is an important first step." 

Strategic leadership responsibility for Sustainability is held by the Vice Chancellor (VC) and operational responsibility is held by the Chief Operating Officer.

The University Sustainability Manager (SM) 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 Employment and Finance Committee and is reported to the Board of Governors.

A Sustainability Strategy Group (SSG) was established in 2021, and is now chaired by the Chief Operating Officer. The SSG will propose and progress the development of the University sustainability strategy.

The Sustainable Travel Group (STG), chaired by the SM, 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.

All academic course teams are required to reflect upon Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in relation to their courses in preparation for course validation and periodic review. ESD is part of the remit of course validation panels.

In October 2019, UCA became a founding partner in BAFTA’s Albert Educational partnership, which focuses on reducing the environmental impact of TV production. As part of the partnership UCA staff and students have access to educational modules and tools for the assessment and management of the environmental impact of moving image productions. Students are also able to work towards BAFTA Albert accreditation for their work.

In 2021 UCA’s  Business School for the Creative Industries signed up to the United Nations' Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), where learning will focus on the UN PRME’s six key principles– purpose, values, method, research, partnership and dialogue – with an emphasis on ethics, inclusivity and sustainability in business.

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 August 2021, UCA Students' Union (UCASU) took part in the National Union of Students (NUS) Green Impact awards and achieved a reaccreditation of their ‘Excellent’ rating in recognition of achievements in sustainability. This award recognises annual 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 2015 and set out plans to achieve a targeted 37% reduction in absolute carbon emissions from energy consumption by 2020 compared to 2005 levels.

UCA met the 2020 target three years early at the end of 2017 and continued the implementation of elements of the plan into 2021. In 2023, UCA was awarded £4.5 million in government grant funding towards a £9 million programme to decarbonise our Surrey campuses. Works, which are due for completion in 2025 will see carbon emissions reduce by up to 90% at these campuses. A detailed Net Zero 2030 plan is in development and will be published in 2023.

Continuous improvements in energy efficiency, investments in onsite energy generation from solar photovoltaic panels and the procurement of 20% of electricity from UK based wind power have led to significant annual reductions in carbon emissions.

By 2022, UCA’s annual absolute carbon emissions had reduced to 2,787 tonnes; a 56% decrease compared to 2005.

Carbon intensity (the weight of carbon emissions per square metre of buildings internal area) has similarly reduced significantly from 75 kgCO2e/m2 in 2008/09 to 31 kgCO2e/m2 in 2018/19 and 23 kgCO2e/m2 in 2019/20.


A renewable energy source (solar photovoltaic panels) was commissioned at the Epsom campus in 2012 and in Farnham solar PV panels were commissioned in 2017, 2018 and 2019 which now generate almost 50 MWh of electricity each year.  A Combined Heat and Power system was installed in Farnham’s new student residences development, which opened in September 2021.

In October 2019, UCA joined nineteen other UK universities in signing an aggregated power purchase agreement (PPA) to purchase 20% of its electricity from UK onshore wind power for the next ten years. The PPA was the first of its kind in the UK and has significantly reduced the University’s market-based carbon emissions from electricity consumption as well as helping to support the growth of renewables in the UK’s generation mix.

Waste recycling schemes operate on all campuses and student residences, and food waste composting services operate at UCA Farnham and UCA Epsom. In addition, surplus used office furniture is donated to charities and other causes local to each campus.

The total weight of waste collected in 2020/21 was 339 tonnes (135 tonnes general waste and 71 tonnes of recyclables) and exclusively in 2021, 133 tonnes of healthcare waste for incineration generated at covid testing stations at each campus). Excluding healthcare waste there was a 25% reduction in total waste generated compared with the previous year

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 and revised in 2021. Plans for other campuses will be completed in 2022.

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 56% and we are committed to achieving Net Zero carbon emissions for energy consumption by 2030.

Our latest Environment and Sustainability Report is available here.


If there are any questions about sustainability at UCA, please contact Scott Keiller, Sustainability Manager,