University College School becomes Carbon Neutral

UCS Hampstead is now carbon neutral – when CO2 caused by an organisation’s activities is balanced by an equivalent amount being removed – and is the first UK school to win gold recognition in every step of the UN Climate Neutral Now Initiative.

University College School becomes Carbon Neutral
Photo: UCS Hampstead

UCS Hampstead has become the first UK school to win gold recognition in every step of the UN Climate Neutral Now Initiative – Measure, Reduce and Contribute.

This confirms UCS as having taken the necessary steps to become carbon neutral – when CO2 caused by an organisation’s activities is balanced by an equivalent amount being removed – by measuring, reducing and offsetting current unavoidable emissions arising from key aspects of life in the Senior School, Junior Branch and Pre-Prep.

The UCS Foundation has also obtained One Carbon World’s Carbon Neutral International Standard for a second successive year – achieving carbon neutrality by offsetting all the footprint that was measured.

The Foundation’s triple gold recognition comes within a year of UCS signing the UN Climate Neutral Now Pledge.

Meanwhile, securing the Carbon Neutral International Standard involved the significant undertaking of measuring the school’s carbon footprint – as verified and calculated by One Carbon World, a global resource partner of Climate Neutral Now.

Last November, UCS had already become one of the first schools to sign up to Camden Council’s Schools Climate Charter, establishing a framework for sustainable progress.

James Firth, UCS Foundation Environmental Impact Coordinator, said: "We have placed significant emphasis on environmental sustainability over recent months.

"We are really excited about the progress, outcomes and our pupils’ role in this work."

He continued: "We have a responsibility to educate children about reducing environmental impact.

"As a Foundation, we want to provide all members with opportunities to recognise and respond to their responsibilities – local, national and global.

"We are serious about setting an example in tackling emissions."

The latest measurements from the school’s carbon footprint showed that emissions fell by 13% to 1.16tCO2e per student in 2020/21 – from 1.33tCO2e in 2019.

The Senior School’s pupil-led Green Impact Society together with the Foundation Sustainability Working Group are targeting further reductions.

Offsetting to account for current emissions represents a notable success; however, the ultimate goal is carbon zero, when no carbon is emitted.

Three priority areas are energy, travel and biodiversity.

Energy efficiency technology is being installed across the school as UCS aims to move towards totally renewable energy.

Pupils are also campaigning for sustainable travel, with the Pre-Prep and Junior Branch now Camden-recognised Gold STAR schools.

Meanwhile, Green Impact Society continues to drive the push towards cutting emissions across the Foundation and thereby reducing the amount required to be offset.

UCS stages a Sustainability Open Evening on 21st April ahead of World Earth Day, featuring major companies and with opportunities to commit to making sustainable actions.

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