First ever leader in sustainability appointed to “green” the university


Prof Paul Lickiss and Provost Ian Walmsley walk through a lab at the Molecular Science Research Hub

Prof Paul Lickiss and Provost Ian Walmsley at the Molecular Science Research Hub

Professor Paul Lickiss says he wants to make sustainability “not only the natural choice but an easy choice” for the whole community.

He has previously been the academic leader for the design of the new Molecular Sciences Research Hub and helped manage the move of the Chemistry department to their new home in White City.

“I want to make sustainability decisions and actions both possible and easy for people in the College in their everyday working lives,” said Prof Lickiss, who will take up the part-time post as Academic Leader in sustainability from November. “Being sustainable should be an easy choice but it often feels hard and I don’t believe we are sharing best practice yet across the College.”

The appointment follows the launch of the Greening Imperial initiative which has already seen an end to single-use plastic glasses in catering outlets, the introduction of a coffee cup levy and reusable wooden cutlery in place of single-use plastic versions.

Need to get our own house in order

Sustainability should run through the whole of College thinking at all levels and across all campuses. Prof Paul Lickiss Academic leader in sustainability

Prof Lickiss, who worked closely with Estates during the four years preparing for Chemistry’s move to White City, has ambitions to set up a network of sustainability champions in every department and division in the College and to set up a sustainability fund.

He added: “Imperial does amazing research on things like solar power, hydrogen storage, fuel cells, carbon capture and new materials. We also have world leading institutes such as the Grantham Institute, the Energy Futures Lab and the Centre for Environmental Policy.

“The new MSRH building has an “excellent” BREEAM rating for its sustainability performance so we know that current benchmarks can be achieved even with labs - but much our College infrastructure is quite old and not up to the best current standards in terms of energy efficiency.

Portrait of Paul Lickiss
Prof Paul Lickiss

“So, despite our great research activities and successes with new building projects, there is still much to be done. Sustainability should run through the whole of College thinking at all levels and across all campuses. I want each and every person who has an idea about how things could work better – whether they are a member of the support staff, an academic or a student - to be able to put forward suggestions and learn from each other.

Professor Neil Alford (Associate Provost Academic Planning) said: “If you look at the work people in the College are doing on sustainability it’s really excellent – and yet our own track record is not great. If we really want to be leaders in this area then we need to get our own house in order.

“We’ve made some progress but Imperial still lags behind many other institutions. We’re encouraged to see the College making this appointment and taking this agenda on board. We all look forward to working closely with Paul.

“I know Paul has a real enthusiasm for this agenda but more importantly he has the experience of working closely with different parts of the College and is known for his collaborative approach. I have no doubt he will make a success of this role.”


Hannah MacLachlan

Hannah MacLachlan
Communications and Public Affairs

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Climate-change, Campus-developments, Sustainability
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