About Sustainability at LSBU

LSBU's sustainability goals, policies and programmes 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 in 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, businesses, and society and seek to remove barriers to success. Making progress against the SDGs is a stated goal. Another goal is to impact 1 million lives positively!

Group Strategy

Sustainability policy and administration

Initial approach

The “Environmental and Ethical Sustainability Policy for LSBU” was produced in 2016. It notes that environmental and ethical sustainability underpin the mission and ethos of the university, “which aims to transform lives, businesses and communities”. It notes that, to do so, LSBU needs to embed a sustainability culture that is visibly demonstrated through the way that the university is run, its engagement with external stakeholders, and the education and professional development opportunities it provides.

The Sustainability Steering Group (SSG), formed in 2016, was led by the Provost; it met once a quarter. In 2017-19, an LSBU Sustainability Project Manager co-ordinated the university’s activities on the subject, and a part-time LSBU Group Sustainability Project Manager undertook the task in 2019-21.

The strategic approach

In 2021, the LSBU Group adopted a strategic approach to Sustainability and Climate Change. It resolved to resource the sustainability and climate change portfolio, formulate a group strategy and draw up appropriate policies and a programme for action. It reviewed its sustainability and climate change key performance indicators (KPIs) and instituted appropriate monitoring mechanisms. The sustainability team is based in the Governance Unit, and works closely with units and staff members responsible for related tasks, to deliver the university’s objectives.

In May 2022, Sustainability and Climate Change was approved by the Executive as a major initiative. A risk register for the subject was prepared.

The SSG was restructured with a clear statement of its terms of reference and given a mandate. It comprises representatives of the relevant units of the group including the academic schools, the college, the academies, estates, finance, procurement, and marketing and communications. The restructured SSG had its first meeting in December 2022, and has met roughly every two months thereafter.

An LSBU Group Sustainability Lead was appointed in September 2022. A Project Manager for Sustainability and Climate Change will soon take office. The plan for the first year of the new strategic sustainability portfolio provides for the restructuring of the SSG; preparation of a new policy for Sustainability and Climate Change; and initial steps towards the formulation of a new sustainability strategy for the LSBU Group.

A Group Sustainability Policy was developed and published in December 2023. A three-year roadmap has been developed and approved. It is being fine-tuned together with the designated action owners.

What have we achieved? Roof staff

We perform very well in sustainability rankings at the national and global levels

The Times Higher Impact Rankings are the only global performance tables that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). LSBU has consistently performed well. We were ranked 27th in the UK and in the top 200 universities in the world in the fifth edition of 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 the four SDGs for which it submitted: 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). LSBU’s scores have increased year-on-year in three of the nine SDG tables entered, causing increases in ranking for two SDGs: SDG1: No Poverty (+40) and SDG7: Affordable and Clean Energy (+17).

Read about the rankings and our Deputy Vice Chancellor's reaction to our success here.

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We will strive to improve our scores in the impact rankings year-on-year.

QS Sustainability

We made our first submission for the QS World University Rankings: Sustainability in 2023-24. There were 1,403 institutions globally; 493 in Europe and 93 in the UK. We were ranked at 594 globally, 251 in Europe and 61 in the UK.

Of the three main categories to the ranking: Environmental Impact, Social Impact, and Governance, we were ranked at 221 globally for Equality; 332 for Environmental Sustainability; and 359 for Governance.

People and Planet

People & Planet’s University League is a comprehensive and independent league table of UK universities ranked by environmental and ethical performance. It is compiled annually by the student campaigning network, People & Planet. In the 2023-24 league table, LSBU ranked 93 out of 151 institutions, up 21 places from the previous year. Notably, we received 95 percent for Education.

Some performance indicators 

In the LSBU Report and Financial Statement 2020-21, the institution’s commitment to sustainability was reiterated:1 “LSBU is dedicated to protecting our planet and society. We promise to become a university of the future – one that is conscious, one that is responsible and one that is sustainable. We will do this through environmental sustainability and literacy, with this being embedded through the reduction of carbon emissions and landfill use, and by increased recycling”.

As part of the LSBU Group’s 2025 Corporate Strategy, it aims to:

  • Use its estate effectively with a utilisation rate of 50 percent; and
  • Reduce its carbon footprint by 25 percent between 2020 and 2025, with the goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

It will do this through: environmental sustainability and literacy, which will be embedded through the reduction of carbon emissions and landfill use, reducing water consumption, increasing recycling, delivering more events online, and promoting sustainable innovation.

Annual review reports

We report our performance in all areas of sustainability in our annual review reports, focusing on the SDGs which we have committed ourself to contributing towards their attainment. In the LSBU Group Annual Review 2020-21, progress made by the LSBU Group in operationalising and pursuing the group’s contribution to the attainment of the SDGs under the objectives and strategic thrusts of the corporate plan, was reviewed, the achievements were highlighted, and further initiatives, plans and related targets were outlined.2

You can see the 2021-22 and 2022-23 reports here:

Annual Review 2021-22

Annual Review 2022-23

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 reductions have continued since then. The table below shows the significant tCO2e reductions achieved during the period, 2018-19 to 2021-22.

During 2020-21, LSBU added the Non-Half Hourly Electricity supply contracts to the Renewable Electricity contract (REGO) with its current energy supplier, allowing the university to report zero carbon emissions for electricity consumption across the campus. LSBU now uses 100% REGO. LSBU remains committed to remove any reliance on fossil fuels, and it is investigating various appropriate decarbonisation technologies and assessing their benefits.

LSBU has done well in significantly reducing its Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. In 2022, the estimate of the LSBU’s Scope 3 emissions (emissions from the wider value chain, outside the direct control of the organisation) was undertaken, using the well-established ‘spend’ method. The total estimated carbon footprint was 28,045 tCO2e (August 2019 to July 2020). The three main hotspots identified were: Purchased goods and services, 74% of Scope 3; Capital goods, 15% of Scope 3; and Employee commuting, 5% of Scope 3. It was acknowledged in the report that the data available was poor. Among the recommended follow-up actions were to: collect data to establish annual Scope 3 emissions; and invest in decarbonisation workstreams.

Our current commitments 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).


Table 1  Energy consumption and emissions at LSBU (periods from 1 August to 31 July)

Electricity Consumption











Gas Consumption










Carbon Emissions (with REGO since 2019)



























LSBU purchases it electricity through the CCS Framework and is supplied by EDF using a renewable tariff ‘Renewable for Business’. The tariff is fully backed by REGOs, and it adheres to the GHG Protocol ‘Scope 2’ guidance and UK Fuel Mix Disclosure regulations. LSBU is issued with a Renewable Energy Report on an annual basis. The current report details the sources of our electricity and data for April 2019 to March 2023. In the graph below the varied sources have been combined under four headings: Wind, Solar, Hydro-electricity and Bioenergy. The data show that there has been a decrease in the use of wind generated energy which has been largely made up with bioenergy sources in particular Biomass and Landfill Gas.


Read our Renewable Energy Report

EDF's Renewable Energy Report  (PDF File 1,026 KB)

We have adopted a strategic approach to Sustainability and Climate Change

The LSBU Group has developed a roadmap for action, drawn up appropriate policies, and established monitoring mechanisms for the Sustainability and Climate change portfolio. It has also formed 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.

Working together as staff members and students in the LSBU Group, we will embed environmental sustainability and literacy in our curriculum, reduce our carbon emissions and landfill use, ensure better utilisation of our estate, reduce our water consumption, reduce waste and increase the proportion of recycling, reduce emissions in general, and promote sustainable innovation. In delivering the curriculum, we will also enable our students to address business and societal challenges through their learning, by offering teaching in support of social good that focuses on the UN Strategic Development Goals (SDGs).

Our estate is award winning

An assessment of LSBU’s environmental impacts (PDF File 798 KB) was carried out in 2013 by the Sustainability Manager and reviewed in 2017. This assessment gives details of how the environmental aspects and impacts of the activities of LSBU are identified and how their significance is assessed, and subsequently what measures would be put in place.

LSBU’s ZONES learning environment transformation programme aims for BREEAM rating ‘Very Good’ in the projects. It includes improved insulation, utilising natural light, and providing space for storing bicycles. The Group’s contractors are committed to purchasing products from responsible sources and have limited environmental impact, to reducing construction-related impacts such as noise, dust and odours, procuring 100% FSC/PEFC sustainable materials, reducing dependency on natural resources such as energy and water, reducing construction waste, and preserving and enhancing the local biodiversity.

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.

LSBU Hubrvices

The stunning interior of the LSBU Hub building, the largest building at the University's Southwark campus

Following an extensive renovation of the then London Road Building on the University’s Southwark Campus that began in 2019, the LSBU Hub building 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 sports facilities and the LSBU Doctoral College.

The existing structure of the original building was largely retained, significantly reducing the building’s carbon emissions. The use of lightweight steel interventions suspended from roof level avoids the need for additional concrete columns or foundations (thus, saving energy and conserving materials), while creating larger and lighter learning areas appropriate for modern education. Although about 1000 m2 of floor area was added, its enhanced fabric means there should not be additional carbon emissions compared to pre-refurbishment. The retained waffle slab provides thermal mass, tempering heating and cooling loads. Other innovations that enhanced the environmental performance of the building include a ‘Blu-roof,’ which stores storm water on top of the roof, enabling the rate of discharge into local sewers be controlled, to mitigate potential flooding issues.  The development of the remarkable project was led by the architectural firm, WilkinsonEyre who describe the project as a “transformational low carbon retrofit” and the building as “an open and inviting centrepiece” for the university’s main campus.

In 2023, LSBU's Hub building which was developed to a BREAAM Good standard, was awarded the prestigious Higher Education and Campus award at the Architects’ Journal Retrofit Awards event. The awards recognise and celebrate the design expertise behind the vital renewal and repurposing of existing buildings, setting a precedent for ways to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint in the process. The building also won the Civic Trust Award 2024; and was on the shortlist for the RIBA London Awards 2024 and the WAF Awards 2023.

On the Architects Journal award, 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.”