The Queen's Tower surrounded by trees
Our long-term goal is to be a sustainable and net zero carbon institution by 2040.

The roadmap to 2026 and beyond

Sustainability will shape Imperial’s plans and activities at all levels and across all campuses. The College’s Sustainability Strategy Advisory Group was established in 2020 to ensure that we turn this notion into reality and, in the context of our considerable but finite resources, set a credible roadmap for its delivery.

Guiding the Advisory Group’s work is our ambition to ensure that as well as Imperial leading the world on science and policy for sustainability, we also embed sector-leading sustainable practice throughout our research, teaching and operational activities. This ambition is captured in our vision: to advance our world leading sustainability research and education, and to apply what Imperial excels at to our own activities and to the new challenges facing the world. Our strategy brings together the work underway in estate infrastructure, research and teaching through a single framework for sustainability. Goals will guide our action to 2026 and beyond, and ensure that we maximise the College’s contribution to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Our overall, long-term goal is to be a sustainable and net zero carbon institution by 2040. In addition, we anticipate that at the end of this current five-year strategy, this date will be brought forward as we achieve efficiencies within the College and take advantage of the evolving energy landscape in the UK. Our overarching responsibility is to manage the impact  of the decisions we make such that they are neither detrimental to the environment nor to society, and still enable the College to thrive in the future.

Focusing on what matters

Building on the work of the 2017 Greening Imperial study, we interviewed stakeholders inside and outside the organisation, including academic and technical staff, union representatives, student bodies, and business partners. We also launched an online survey with the College community to identify themes where expectations are high and where we have the greatest potential to contribute.

What we heard is that sustainability presents a great opportunity for the College – our sustainability research and education is world leading and we should do more to implement on campus what we learn and teach. Imperial students represent a huge resource for change and influence – now and as future leaders – and we will ensure they have the skills and knowledge that leadership for sustainability demands. Our campuses will become testbeds for our policy, technology and innovation work, and showcase partnership, collaboration and engagement. We must continue to be a vocal, visible advocate for technology and policy for sustainability, and a solutions-provider to business. Everything we do must be underpinned by the resourcing and governance that will bring the different strands of work underway together and drive change.

Clear priorities for action for both the College community and our stakeholders emerged from our findings. These are that:

  • the complex interplay between climate change, energy generation and human activity requires long-term coordinated planning by the College;
  • we monitor the use of all our resources and use them efficiently to minimise waste;
  • sustainability is integral to the College’s decisions on the procurement of buildings, services, travel and equipment;
  • we ensure that all teaching and research is carried out in a sustainable way;
  • students are equipped with sustainability skills and knowledge for the future;
  • governance, management and resourcing of sustainability, including our approach to investment, is at the forefront of the College’s plans and ambitions.

Sustainability’s ‘social dimensions’, including human rights, diversity and inclusion are integral to our activities. This strategy is focused primarily on the environmental and governance aspects of sustainability, and goes hand-in-hand with our complementary plan to address the broader UN Sustainable Development Goals: www.imperial.ac.uk/global-development-hub/imperial-and-the-sdgs.

Our Goals

Demonstrate sustainability in practice

We will transform our campuses, bringing sustainability principles to bear in our decision-making and investment in buildings, grounds, transport, procurement and partnerships. We will showcase Imperial’s research in action, turning our campuses into testbeds for sustainability. Underpinning this goal is our commitment to operate responsibly, including our approach to governance, communications and investment for sustainability.

Finding sustainable solutions together

We will build on our extensive sustainability curriculum to ensure that all Imperial students can access the skills and knowledge they need to lead positive change. We will reshape our research portfolio, with a growing focus on the science, technology and policy solutions needed for a just and equitable transition to a sustainable net zero carbon society. We will empower our external stakeholders and the wider public to find and implement sustainable solutions together.

On this website, we set out our plans, within the framework of three themes, that collectively will deliver our strategic priorities. Our three themes are:

We are constantly evolving our Strategy, and expect to add further activities, science-based targets and measures as our work as an institution gathers further momentum in this area. Please get in touch if you have any comments or suggestions, or would like to contribute to the work, on sustainable@imperial.ac.uk.