Sustainability at UCEM

Built for the future

Discover all of the work we’re doing for a sustainable future, including our free sustainability courses, news and events and competitions below.

Sustainability at UCEM
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We are on a mission to become the world's most sustainable university - come and find out how!

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We are in the midst of a climate catastrophe. COP26 was a crucial summit in which representatives from around the world joined in an effort to mitigate the effects of climate change. Learn more about it and see what UCEM is doing for COP26.

Energy and Carbon in the Built Environment
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Are you a built environment professional? It’s becoming increasingly vital for industry professionals to be able to take part in informed conversations about methods for reducing carbon. Build your knowledge and skills and join the conversation.

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This is a simple and practical tool for built environment professionals, city leaders and local governments to assist with the development of rapidly growing cities or towns.

Projects for Good
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Our partnership with the National Union of Students (NUS) on its Projects for Good initiative supports students and alumni to create positive change for sustainability in their workplaces. Explore all of the fantastic projects our students and alumni have submitted!

Harold Samuels Research Prize
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UCEM is proud to announce the 2021 Harold Samuel Research Prize, an annual award of up to £15,000 for an innovative research project that has the potential to provide industry-changing insight for the built environment. Learn more and see how you can take part!

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GSFN materialised from the necessity to connect Global South with Global North and co-address the pressing challenges to sustainable futures through constructive partnerships. Explore GSFN's fantastic projects and learn how you can get involved.

News and Events
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Keep up-to-date with the latest sustainability news and events at UCEM.

The world is changing

Built for adaption

The world is on the precipice of a climate catastrophe. The sea levels are rising, severe droughts are more common than ever, and extreme weather events are occurring more frequently. Climate change is affecting every country, threatening lives and livelihoods globally, and is presenting an unprecedented challenge to the entire world.

Climate change and the built environment are intimately connected. The built environment is a key driver of global greenhouse emissions and it consumes nearly half of the total global raw material.

Reaching a more sustainable built environment is therefore critical for all of our futures. By studying one of UCEM’s sustainable short courses or one of our undergraduate or postgraduate programmes, you can learn modern, sustainable building practices that will give you the agency to make a hugely positive impact and bring about a more sustainable future.

“States and non-state actors alike are galvanizing behind the guiding star of net zero emissions before 2050, but we are running out of time. We must urgently pivot to delivering the halving of our emissions by 2030, with robust short term plans and longer term strategies, if we want to deliver the promise of the Paris Agreement.”

Nigel Topping
UN high-level champion for climate action


Built for knowledge

What does sustainability actually mean, and why is it so important? How does sustainability relate to the built environment?


What is sustainability?

Sustainability is defined by the UN as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainability is a holistic approach which takes into consideration the environment, society and the economy for future prosperity.

Environmental sustainability

To achieve environmental sustainability, the earth’s natural resources must be consumed at a rate where they can replenish themselves.

Economic sustainability

Economic sustainability means that everyone has access to economic systems and the resources they need to meet their needs and have secure sources of livelihood.

Social sustainability

Social sustainability means that universal human rights and necessities are attainable by all and that everyone has access to the resources they need to keep themselves healthy and secure and protected from discrimination.

How does sustainability relate to the built environment?

The built environment encompasses all human-made surroundings, from the places that we live, work and spend most of our time. While it is critical to the world economy, accounting for around 10% of global GDP, it is a primary driver of emissions and the use of land and resources. It is estimated that the built environment represents over one-third of global final energy use and contributes a staggering 40% of all global emissions.

In order to facilitate the growing demands of our civilisation and reduce the catastrophic effects of global warming, it is crucial that we reach net-zero emissions and create a sustainable built environment.

Given this, you can begin to appreciate how a career in the built environment provides you with a significant opportunity to change the world around you and construct a better future through the transformation of the built environment.


the percentage of global GDP
attributed to the built environment


the global final energy use
represented by the built environment


the approximate percentage of energy-related carbon emissions worldwide caused by the built environment

UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s)

What are the SDG’s?

Sitting at the heart of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are the 17 SDG’s, which are “an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership.”

Make a Difference

Built for a sustainable future

Getting into a career in the built environment is your chance to make positive and significant changes to the world and to ensure a sustainable future.

[Section on UCEM programmes and how they are mapped to sustainability/SDG’s]