Queen's Tower

Find out more about Green Imperial, who is involved and how you can be part of it.


What is Greening Imperial?

Greening Imperial is an initiative designed to understand and improve how Imperial College London implements sustainability and action on climate change. This is an all-encompassing intiative, looking at everything from how it operates as a campus to how it supports policy makers with environmental challenges. The aim is to deliver evidence that will inform a new College-wide strategy on sustainability and action on climate change, and provide a set of feasible recommendations to help the College in the short term.

Considering how the College community can be part of this strategy is critical to its scoping, delivery and, ultimately, its success. Over the coming months, all students and staff will be able to engage on this topic as part of our consultations. Please see ‘How can I get involved?’ for further details.

What will Greening Imperial deliver?

  • A shift in awareness and attitude towards sustainability and action on climate change at Imperial College London
  • A series of recommendations that will enhance environmental resilience and help incorporate sustainability in all areas of Imperial engagements
  • A framework to understand, enact and sustain behaviour change with relation to the College’s waste streams
  • A means of benchmarking Imperial’s performance against peers 

Who is involved?

A steering group is overseeing the delivery of Greening Imperial. It includes members drawn from a cross departmental and community pool.

Daniel Hdidouan – Centre for Environmental Policy
Alyssa Gilbert – Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment
Professor Joanna Haigh [Chair] – Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment
Professor Geoffrey Maitland [Chair] – Department of Chemical Engineering
Professor Richard Templer – Department of Chemistry & Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment
Dr Neil Jennings – Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment
Dr Iain Staffell – Centre for Environmental Policy
Andrew Hammond – Engineering Manager
Claudia Caravello – Imperial College Union
Nic Dent – Waste and Recycling Manager

How can I get involved?

If you have any thoughts or suggestions you would like to share, please email the Greening Imperial team – Greening.Imperial@imperial.ac.uk.

If you’d like to receive the monthly Greening Imperial newsletter, you can join the mailing list here.

Students interested in Greening Imperial should consider joining the Imperial College Environmental Society for a range of sustainability activities including campaigns on waste reduction, low-carbon diets, reducing the impact of the fashion industry and a food Co-op!

What has been achieved so far?

Since the summer of 2018 Greening Imperial has achieved the following:

  • Removal of single-use plastic glasses from catering outlet water stations – saving up to 850,000 cups/year (from 1 Oct 2018).
  • Introduction of ‘bring your own container’ for hot, portioned takeaways from all Campus Services catering outlets (from 1 Nov 2018).
  • Introduction of a 15p levy for every hot drink served in disposable coffee cups (from 5 Nov 2018). This charge is being introduced to reduce the 2,750 single-use disposable cups previously used across our campuses each day.
  • Replacement of single-use plastic cutlery with FSC-certified reusable wooden cutlery from Dec 2018.
  • A trial of Meat Free Monday in January 2019.
  • Participation in the NUS Sustainable Development Goals Teach-In in February 2019 (Imperial came 5th in the UK in terms of engagement of the academic community).
  • A week of activities for ICUs Greening Imperial week in March 2019.
  • Pilot of the Laboratories Environmental Assessment Framework (LEAF) in four laboratories across College - Complex Porus Media Lab, Freemont Lab, Hallett Lab, London Institute of Medical Sciences.
  • Introduction of new bicycle parking facilities at the Centre for Environmental Policy in May 2019.
  • Monthly visits for students and staff to the Environment Society allotment (last Tuesday of the month – join us by e-mailing us greening.imperial@imperial.ac.uk).

The following are being discussed as potential future changes:

  • Increasing the amount of green space on our campuses.
  • Increasing the number of water stations across our campuses.
  • Partnering with local homeless charities to donate leftover food from our Campus Service outlets to those who need it.
  • Increasing the amount of bike parking – bike racks at the Centre for Environmental Policy are currently being investigated.
  • Buying electricity from renewable sources.
  • Connecting our academic community with the White City development to try and develop the campus into a zero carbon showcase of our engineering expertise.
  • Investigating the Imperial carbon footprint from aviation and options for incentivising rail travel and offsetting.

Please send any of your own suggestions for sustainability improvements to greening.imperial@imperial.ac.uk. To stay up-to-date with Greening Imperial activity, sign-up to the monthly newsletter.

What is the coffee cup levy?

The coffee cup levy has been introduced to reduce the 2,750 single-use disposable cups previously used across our campuses daily. It adopts a similar approach to other universities such as Birmingham, Exeter, Reading and Winchester by charging a levy (15p) for every hot drink served in a disposable coffee cup. Funds from the levy are used to subsidise the cost of reusable coffee cups and water bottles.
Staff and students are encouraged to bring their own reusable coffee cups or purchase one from any College catering outlet for £6 each. Self-served hot drinks purchased from machines will not attract a levy but reusable cups are encouraged at these points also.
You may be interested in a nice BBC case study on the success of the coffee cup levy at the University of Winchester – we hope to have similar success here ��

What is Meat-Free Monday and will it return?

According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), livestock are responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. With this in mind, Meat-Free Mondays (MFM) was trialled during January 2019 across College, Imperial College Union and a number of externally-run catering outlets where hot meals were served. The purpose of MFM was to encourage students and staff to think more about the environmental impact of the food they eat, to reduce the carbon emissions of food sold on campus and encourage people to try healthier vegetable-based meals.

A survey was conducted to get feedback from students on staff on MFM and to help guide future food-related activities. The headline stats from the MFM survey were as follows:

  • Over 600 survey respondents
  • 61% supported the continuation of MFM (34% opposed the continuation, 5% expressed no opinion)
  • 45% suggested that fish should still be on the menu duringMFM (39% opposed, 16% expressed no opinion)
  • 57% supported a 'polluter pays' levy of higher costs for the most polluting meats - lamb and beef (37% opposed, 6% no opinion)
  • 69% would like to see more information on the environmental impact of their food (16% opposed, 14% no opinion)

Meat Free Monday will not continue for the time-being but the Greening Imperial team are discussing food-related activities for 2019/20 with the Campus Services team to see whether it could be reintroduced next academic year and what other options may be possible (e.g. a levy on the most-polluting meats). In the meantime, a vegan cafe will be opening in April 2019 in the current location of the College Cafe in Dalby Court.

What did the 2017 Greening Imperial survey cover?

The four main areas for improvement on sustainability and action on climate change within Imperial are: 

  • Operations and actions
  • Education and teaching
  • Research and innovations
  • Communication and collaboration

The 2017 survey covered these points, helping us to better understand what Imperial is doing in terms of sustainability and action on climate change, and what Imperial might be able to do in the future. The survey was written up into two reports published in 2018:

The 2018 Greening Imperial report is available to read here: Greening Imperial - A Call for Action

The 2018 Greening Imperial paper submitted to the Provost's Board is available to read here: Provost's Board Paper Greening Imperial