It’s time to disrupt


“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.”

UCEM has pledged to tackle the Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency and supports Carbon Zero: the professional institutions’ climate action plan.  Our institutional Sustainability Action Plan contributes to becoming ‘the Centre of Excellence for Built Environment Education’.

At UCEM we are committed to develop and implement genuine sustainability credentials through the Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility Statement. UCEM Trustees continue to review the institution’s investment policy annually, seeking to invest funds in an ethical and sustainable manner, paying regard to environmental considerations and aligning the policy with UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), alongside the institution’s own sustainability agenda. The institution identified a fund that met our investment objectives and ethical and sustainable requirements and approved the Sarasin & Partners Climate Active Endowment Fund which was completed in August 2021.

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.

We are supporting academic excellence through:

  • 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.



UCEM’s Innovation and Partnerships Team undertakes a diverse range of work across the institution and are responsible for co-ordinating the institution’s approach to sustainability.

The learner voice is represented through the Student Ambassador for Sustainability. They contribute operationally and strategically; crucially incorporating and representing student ideas into institutional level planning. Their role also actively encourages student participation in sustainability opportunities and events.

The Sustainability Working Group (SWG) is a community of practice which takes collective responsibility for the institution’s sustainability agenda, comprising operational and academic activities. Importantly this group has members from around the institution allowing all teams to engage and be involved in decision making and planning.

The team is supported by the Sustainability Strategy Group. This comprises senior members of UCEM who come together to tackle the institutional response to the climate crisis and become the ‘World’s Most Sustainable University’ (WMSU). This group is responsible for catalysing high-level positive change to achieve a cohesive institutional response through ensuring representation from all departments.


Introducing the Innovation and Partnerships Team



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 Responsible Futures accreditation, which is valid for two years until Summer 2022. The university became the first alternative provider to be awarded the accreditation – which demonstrates UCEM’s commitment to promoting sustainability and social responsibility – after a two-day audit carried out by UCEM students who had been trained by Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK)

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.

“Congratulations to the University College of Estate Management on this fantastic achievement! Thank you for your commitment to empowering students to access the skills and knowledge they need to forge a more sustainable education system and more sustainable world.”

– Larissa Kennedy SOS-UK and NUS National President.

NUS Responsible Futures Green 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 2017 The Green Apple Awards Green Gown Awards Winner 2018



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

Responsible Futures

NUS Responsible Futures Feedback Report 2020

This outlines findings, successes and opportunities for enhancement.

Sustainable Skills Survey

As part of the reaccreditation process for Responsible Futures in 2020 and 2022, we ran a Sustainability Skills Survey in conjunction with SOS-UK. The student survey looked at attitudes, experiences and expectations associated with sustainability at UCEM. You can view highlights from both 2020 and 2022 in the infographics below.

Sustainability Skills 19-20 >

Sustainability Skills 21-22 >


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, created 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.

Learn about the Rapid Planning Toolkit course >

Energy and Carbon in the Built Environment

It is becoming increasingly crucial 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.

Energy and Carbon in the Built Environment course >

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