Committed to net zero carbon by 2030

The University of East London (UEL) is committed to be net zero carbon by 2030. This journey will take place over several years as we change the way we do things across the whole University. The first big step will involve lowering our emissions through increasing renewable energy use and production.

However, our approach will not only lower our emissions but will improve the health and wellbeing of our community and provide a pathway for those interest in green careers and sustainability research.

Why net zero matters?

Climate change is no longer a buzzword. In 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a report stating that to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change, the world must halve CO2 emissions by 2030 and reach net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. 

The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability report in 2022 reinforced the need to act quickly as we move to a point of irreversible damage. However, the report made it clear that it is not too late and if we are all prepared to make changes today. Already UEL has been taking action on climate change by cutting carbon, increasing biodiversity on our campuses and embedding the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into our teaching and research.

What does net zero carbon mean?

Net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. We reach net zero carbon when the amount of carbon emissions we add is no more than the amount taken away.

How to reach net zero carbon?

The projects we are running will enable us reduce emission, increase renewable energy use and production, plus provide insight that enables us to efficiently drive real climate action and change in the future.

Our plan includes three major phases:

Phase 1: Reduce

This is the first major step towards the reduction of energy consumption on campus through the installation of LED lighting in all buildings and upgrades to all building management system controllers.

This will reduce our carbon emissions by 10%.

Phase 2: Produce

We will focus on bringing in technology that will directly decarbonise a large portion of UEL's energy consumption through the installation of solar photovoltaics (PV), heat pumps and the installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging.

The introduction of approximately 2MW of solar PV, which will provide over 1.2 GWh of zero carbon, zero cost electricity every year. 90% of this energy will be consumed across our campuses, with the remainder stored or exported to the national grid.

Phase 3: Living Lab

The Living Lab will be for teaching and will use the built environment to provide real-life, real-time data, for example, using the data from one of our buildings to calculate energy flow as part of a civil engineering project.

It will also be for research, incorporating a scalable data management platform, allowing researchers to collect and integrate multiple types of data, including small data, campus data and external data. All this data will be stored on the Mindsphere platform, which will be the property of UEL and accessible to any of its researchers or partners anywhere in the world.

The data will provide an evidence base so that the University can make informed decisions about new technology, maximising operational efficiency, minimising cost and laying the path to net zero carbon by 2030.

Working together

Working with partners and the community to accelerate net zero carbon plans. For example, UEL is working with Siemens as its Carbon Innovation Lead Partner, supporting our ultimate destination of net zero carbon campuses and vibrant learning environments.

The approach we are taking recognises that there is more than the health of the planet at stake - it is our community's wellbeing, health and careers on the line too. Through preparing our students and staff for green careers they can make positive changes today and be part of the sustainability solutions of tomorrow.

How is UEL supporting green careers?

  • Siemens is sponsoring 20 students to complete the Siemens Energy Engineer Course which provides tangible skills for the workplace
  • Embed sustainability and the SDGs into all our courses  
  • Providing opportunities for students to work on real life sustainability projects through the Sustainable Research Institute (SRI) at UEL
  • Growing opportunities for students to get industry experience, mentorships, placements, and employment in green industries
Our Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals

How you can help UEL reach net zero carbon by 2030

We want to hear from students and staff who have ideas for sustainability initiatives at sustainability@uel.ac.uk.

You can send specific questions about our net zero carbon plans to netzero@uel.ac.uk.