It’s time to disrupt


Sustainability supports UCEM’s vision and core purpose to provide truly accessible, relevant and cost effective education, enabling students to enhance careers, increase professionalism and contribute to a better built environment.

The sustainability working group (SWG) takes collective responsibility for the Institution’s sustainability agenda, comprising operational and academic activities, aligned with our ambition to become the ‘Centre of Excellence for Built Environment Education’. UCEM strives for excellence in economic, environmental and social responsibility. A key strategic aim is ‘to develop and implement genuine sustainability credentials’ through the Sustainability and CSR Statement which reflects our vision to ensure that:

“UCEM fully accepts its responsibilities to the natural environment and the global society. We are committed to driving forward the sustainability agenda and will play a positive and transformative role that will contribute to securing an economically, politically, environmentally and socially sustainable future.”

This statement outlines our commitment to the principles of sustainable development and is designed to drive our successes, focus our activities and inspire us to support the best possible practice. UCEM is committed to:

  • Ensuring our students are conversant in best practice to nurture sustainable built environments
  • Making sustainability a central focus for UCEM at organisational, departmental and individual levels through driving forward long-term and effective behavioural change
  • Establishing UCEM as a leader in the sustainability agenda through actively influencing industry and conducting research



Realising UCEM’s sustainability potential goes beyond addressing day to day operations, to recognising our position to influence and educate industry professionals who design, develop and manage the built environment. Delivering academic excellence is one of UCEM’s primary goals.

Our ambitions

  • Embedding sustainability at each academic level within our provision which reflects UCEM’s practice based focus and helps identify UCEM as a leader in education for sustainability
  • Undertaking applied, real world sustainability research and partnerships aligned with the needs of local, national and international agendas

Responsible Futures accreditation

UCEM is delighted to have been awarded National Union of Students (NUS) Responsible Futures accreditation. The university became the first alternative provider to be awarded the accreditation – which demonstrates UCEM commitment to promoting sustainability and social responsibility – after a two-day audit carried out by UCEM students who had been trained by NUS.

The aim of Responsible Futures, through this process, is for institutions to equip students with the knowledge, skills and values to challenge the world around them and tackle social, economic and environmental issues.

NUS’s VP Society and Citizenship, Rob Young, said:

Massive congratulations to University College of Estate Management on this significant achievement! Thank you for your dedication to creating a learning environment in which students develop the skills, knowledge, and attributes to be agents of change.”

NUS Responsible FuturesGreen Gown Awards 2018 Highly Commended



UCEM will ensure that we will take all reasonable steps to manage operations to minimise our environmental impact and to promote good environmental practice. Sustainability will underpin all activities and decisions that are made by UCEM with relation to our operations.

Our ambitions

  • Develop and implement an environmental management system that complies with ISO 14001, ISO 50001 Energy Management System, adhering to the standards set out by Carbon Trust
  • Meet, and where possible exceed, relevant UK and EU legislation together with regulatory guidelines and industry best practice
  • Ensure a robust approach is taken to achieve zero operational waste to landfill

Our awards

The refurbishment of the UCEM office ‘Horizons’, already recognised as ‘Excellent’ on the BREEAM rating scale (the world’s leading building sustainability assessment method), has now been further recognised through a Green Apple Gold Award for our environmental and social benefits, innovation, economic and environmental impact as well as UCEM’s commitment to educating others about the project approach. This award led to UCEM becoming Green World Ambassadors, where we will be held up as a shining light ‘for helping others to help the environment’. Additionally, our online sustainable project entitled ‘Sustainable futures through online learning’ was awarded ‘Highly Commended’ at the Green Gown Awards 2018.

You can access a free interactive case study about the project.

Green World Ambassador 2017The Green Apple AwardsGreen Gown Awards Winner 2018

Responsible Futures



UCEM’s commitment to creating an environment where education for sustainable development can thrive:


Responsible Futures Skills Survey. This briefing note presents results from the National Union of Students (NUS) 2017 student survey which covered attitudes, experiences and expectations associated with sustainability at UCEM.


NUS Responsible Futures Feedback Report 2020. This outlines findings, successes and opportunities for enhancement.


NUS Responsible Futures Feedback Report 2018. This outlines findings, successes and opportunities for enhancement.


Projects for Good – UCEM students in action creating a more sustainable world.


Sustainable Skills Survey

As part of the reaccreditation process for 2020, we ran a Sustainability Skills Survey, in conjunction with NUS, for students and the below infographic provides a few of the highlights from it:

Sustainability skills infographic


Learning packages

A series of individual freely available CPD learning packages have been produced, available via our Online Academy, which support and informs curricula on ‘future skills’ for sustainability within the construction, surveying and property industries, which include:


Horizons: A Sustainability Case Study. This provides an account of our relocation to the new UCEM premises in 2016, and showcases how an inefficient 1980s building in central Reading was converted into our sustainable new home (BREEAM ‘Excellent’).


Sustainable Urban Design. These courses, in partnership with the Prince’s Foundation, explain why the need to develop sustainable communities has never been greater.  Land use, ecological factors, mass migration and many other sources of stress are affecting community life. These factors, combined with the need for job creation, mean that we have to find new ways to develop our urban environment.