LSE leads sustainability drive

  • 27th May 2024

The university’s latest environmentally-friendly construction project was the Firoz Lalji Global Hub. Image, David Chipperfield Architects with Feix and Merlin

The London School of Economics’ (LSE’s) annual Sustainability Report highlights its 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.

The school has been sector-leading in making in making positive changes and was ranked in the top 10% of universities worldwide for sustainability in the QS Sustainability rankings for 2023, and top in the UK for the ‘sustainable institutions’ lens of the ranking.

The LSE’s newest building project, 35 Lincoln’s Inn Field – to be named the Firoz Lalji Global Hub – will be it is first net-zero building in both 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 (CKK) building as the first building in the School’s Carbon Reduction Programme to go fully electric.

This involved removing the gas boilers chillers and replacing them with more-sustainable air source heat pumps.

And electrification of the CKK Building will reduce gas usage on campus by approximately 8%.

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% reduction in carbon emissions once completed.

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 its involvement at the annual global COP conferences, including COP27 where then LSE president and vice chancellor, Minouche Shafik, gave a speech on its engagement with the UK government and finance sector on net zero and 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.

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 of 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.”

Director of estates, 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.”

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