About Sustainability at LSBU

Like our teaching and research, LSBU's sustainability goals go beyond theory

Sustainability goals and strategy

The LSBU Group comprises the South Bank Academies, South Bank Colleges, South Bank Enterprises and London South Bank University. The Group seeks to deliver the educational needs of communities and business locally and globally.

The LSBU Group Corporate Strategy 2020-25 (PDF File 1,520 KB) sets out our ambition to address 9 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) together. The SDGs are adopted as a framework for delivering equality, environmental sustainability, quality education, health and wellbeing, and economic prosperity. Each of our 2025 goals is measured against a relevant SDG and monitored through key performance indices (KPIs). For example:

  • our commitment to Student Success is measured against SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being, and SDG 4: Quality Education.
  • the strategic pillar of Real World Impact is measured against SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure. Our goals are to make £9 billion of economic impact, and to deliver impactful and high quality education.
  • on Access to Opportunity, in line with UN SDG 17: Partnership for Goals, we work with local and global partnerships to create opportunities for individuals, business and society and seek to remove barriers to success. Making progress against the SDGs is a stated goal. Another goal is to positively impact 1 million lives!

What have we achieved?

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We perform very well in sustainability rankings at the global level

LSBU was ranked 27th in the UK and in the top 200 universities in the world in the prestigious Times Higher Impact Rankings 2023, solidifying our position among the world's top universities. This achievement highlights LSBU's unwavering dedication to excellence in education, research, and community engagement.

Among 1,591 universities from 112 countries or regions, LSBU was also in the top 100 globally for four SDGs: SDG10: Reduced Inequalities (8th, 5th in 2022), SDG1: No Poverty (32nd, 72nd in 2022), SDG5: Gender Equality (60th, 58th in 2022) and SDG7: Affordable and Clean Energy (84th). Read more detail and our Deputy Vice Chancellor's reaction to our success here.

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The Times Higher Impact Rankings are the only global performance tables that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We've been internationally recognised for our efforts and we will strive to improve our scores year-on-year.

We've reduced our carbon emissions every year for the best part of 10 years, and we don't plan to stop

LSBU has long been committed to reducing its carbon emissions. We already use 100% renewable electricity, are committed to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, and continue to report on our gas and electricity consumption and carbon emissions in our annual Energy and Carbon report.

In September 2010 LSBU (with HEFCE), committed to reducing CO2e for scope 1 & 2 emissions (these are emissions from sources directly owned or controlled by LSBU or bought by us through utility companies)  by 35% by 2020, against a 2009/10 baseline of 11,694 tCO2e. We achieved this 35% reduction target in 2017, so we revised our target to 50% emissions reduction by 2020. By the end of 2020, we had actually reached 85% reduction in carbon emissions. The graphs below shows the significant tCO2e reductions being achieved during this period.

Our current committments are to reduce our carbon emissions by a further 25% and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, in line with government policy.

Our estates team is also actively investigating degassing of the LSBU Group's estate, using alternative heating technologies, and looking at how to reduce its Scope 3 emissions (these are emissions that are not produced by LSBU or a direct result of our activities, but those that we are responsible for via our value and supply chain).


We have adopted a strategic approach to Sustainability and Climate Change

The LSBU Group has committed to develop a roadmap for action, draw up appropriate policies, and establish monitoring mechanisms for the Sustainability and Climate change portfolio. It has also established a Sustainability Steering Group to lead the Group's sustainability activities, with representatives from across the LSBU family and academic, estates, finance, procurement, and governance units. The Group Executive has named sustainability and climate change as a major initiative and it is included as a risk to monitor on our corporate risk register. A Group Sustainability Lead was also appointed in 2022, who is working closely with colleagues across the Group to deliver progress.
Delivery of our strategic approach will involve colleagues from across the LSBU Group. Working together, we will embed environental sustainaility and literacy through reduction of our carbon emissions and landfill use, better utilisation of our estate, reducing our water consumption, increasing our recycling, delivering more events online, and promoting sustainable innovation. We will also enable our students to address business and societal challenges through their learning, by offering teaching in support of social good that focusses on the UN Strategic Development Goals (SDGs).

Our estate is award winning

In 2021, LSBU’s Estates and Academic Environment team won the prestigious CIBSE Building Performance award of the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineering (CIBSE) for Efficient Facilities Management, for its work in improving overall energy efficiency and sustainability across the university’s estate, adopting energy efficient technologies to reduce overall electricity and gas usage, and reducing water consumption.


Picture above: the stunning interior of the LSBU Hub building, the largest building at the University's Southwark campus

Following an extensive renovation that began in 2019, the LSBU Hub building on the University’s Southwark Campus had its official opening on 1st September 2022. With Skills Labs, lecture theatres and classrooms, the transformed space now forms a state-of-the-art centre for collaborative learning and engagement on campus, while also providing the new home for the University’s library.

The existing structure of the original building was largely retained, rather than demolished, significantly reducing the building’s carbon emissions. Other environmental aspects of the building include a ‘Blu-roof,’ which stores storm water on top of the roof, assisting with the discharge rate into local sewers to mitigate potential flooding issues.  The remarkable project was led by Architectural firm, WilkinsonEyre.

In 2023, LSBU's Hub building was awarded the prestigious Higher Education and Campus award at the Architects’ Journal Retrofit Awards. The Architects’ Journal Retrofit Awards recognise and celebrate the design expertise behind the vital renewal and repurposing of existing buildings, setting a precedent for ways to slash the industry’s carbon footprint in the process.

Rychard Scrase-Field, Group Director of Estates and Academic Environment at LSBU, said,

“The LSBU Hub is now at the centre of student life here at LSBU and to see the building recognised at the illustrious Architects’ Journal Awards is of no surprise to both staff and students at the university.

“We have seen first-hand how the state-of-the-art building has transformed the learning environment on campus since opening last year and are proud to see the building awarded at this year’s Architects’ Journal Awards. The LSBU Hub is another example of the first-class facilities that our students use to learn the advanced skills they need to build successful careers.”