LSE continues to lead the way on sustainability

As a leading social sciences university in the heart of London, LSE has a key role to play in responding to the global climate emergency.
- LSE's Pro-Director (PVC) Planning and Resources Eric Neumayer

LSE’s annual Sustainability report 2022/23, published today on Earth Day (22 April), highlights the School’s ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability and tackling the climate crisis.

Driven by the School’s senior leadership team, the report illustrates how sustainability has been integrated into key areas across the university including education, research, engagement and leadership, investment and collaboration – as set out in LSE’s Sustainability Strategic Plan.

The School has been sector-leading in making in making positive changes. It was ranked in the top 10 per cent of universities worldwide for sustainability in the QS Sustainability rankings 2023, and top in the UK for the “sustainable institutions” lens of the ranking.

Our newest building project, 35 Lincoln’s Inn Field (to be named the Firoz Lalji Global Hub) will be LSE’s first net zero building in construction and operation. This means the building’s carbon emissions will be transparently calculated, avoided or reduced; and residual emissions offset, so net carbon emissions equal zero.

Work is now also complete on the electrification of the Cheng Kin Ku building (CKK formerly NAB) as the first building in the School’s Carbon Reduction Programme to go fully electric. This involved removing the building’s gas boilers chillers and replacing them with more sustainable air source heat pumps. Electrification of the CKK Building will reduce gas usage on campus by approximately eight per cent.

As part of the refurbishment works, the Old Building is also undergoing an electrification project. Similar to CKK, the project will use heat pump technology that will result in a 70 per cent reduction in carbon emissions for the building once finished.

Other achievements highlighted in the report include the launch of the Just Transition Finance Lab, earlier this year. Established by the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at LSE, the lab will work on the financial solutions needed for a just transition to a net zero and nature positive economy.  

Ongoing work by the Grantham Institute also features significantly in the report, highlighting their involvement at the annual global COP conferences - including COP27 where then LSE President and Vice Chancellor Minouche Shafik gave a speech at the opening ceremony – to their engagement with the UK government and finance sector on net zero and just transition work.

In the key area of education, the report highlights how funding was secured for a student partnership project supporting the integration of sustainability topics into the curriculum in 2022/23. This funding supported 10 students to work as research assistants identifying sustainability topics or case studies for a specific course on sustainability across all School departments. Four new courses related to sustainability have also been approved across the School.

In 2022/23, LSE became the first university in London to become a Network Partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, an international charity committed to creating a circular economy. In that period, the School also joined 20 other universities and higher education institutions in signing the London Higher Sustainability Pledge, committing to working collaboratively across the capital to reduce the individual and cumulative impact of the higher education sector on the environment.

Going forwards, LSE is working to achieve one of its big targets of becoming net zero carbon by 2030 for direct energy use (scope 1 and 2) and by 2050 for all indirect emissions (scope 3), through continuing to deliver on the carbon reduction initiatives set out in the Sustainability Strategic Plan.

Commenting on the report, LSE's Pro-Director (PVC) Planning and Resources Eric Neumayer said: “As a leading social sciences university in the heart of London, LSE has a key role to play in responding to the global climate emergency. Through the research and external engagement we undertake to further global understanding; the education we provide to students who will show their own leadership on this issue; and how we manage our own built environment; we take this responsibility seriously as part of our mission to shape a sustainable world.”

Commenting, Director of Estates at LSE, Julian Robison, added: “Thanks to our Sustainability Team, LSE remains a bastion of good practice and at the forefront of sustainability. This report demonstrates much has been achieved but there is still even more to do!”