People and Planet University League


We are assessed annually for People and Planet’s University League which is a comprehensive and independent league table of UK universities, ranked according to their environmental and ethical performance.

We have been improving people’s lives for over a century, and remain dedicated to that same ethos of making the world a better place by putting people and the world we live in at the heart of our approach. We are a world leading university on climate change, and sustainability is a core principle of the University’s overarching strategy, demonstrating our commitment to making improvements in this area. We are also working to actively embed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into what we do. We have a number of policies, strategies and reports which set out our commitments and progress against these.

The University’s summary results are published by People and Planet and we are proud to have been rated ‘first class’ for the last three years, and in 2021 ranked 15th out of 154 universities. We have provided below some of the detail which underpins our current position across each of the 14 areas assessed. If there is something you would like to know about our sustainability which you cannot find below, further information is available within the pages of our sustainability website.


The University’s Environmental and Energy Policy sets out our sustainability and environmental commitments. Our policy is reviewed annually and environmental performance is reported on to the Environmental Sustainability Committee (which includes senior management representation) via our annual Environmental Sustainability report. This report is also made publicly available via our website.

Sustainability is one of the core principles of the University’s overall strategy. Our Environmental and Sustainability Strategy revolves around 6 key themes. To support delivery against this, we have developed strategies/plans for the following key environmental impact areas:

We also operate an externally accredited Environmental and Energy Management System (EEMS), with objectives/targets set against our key environmental impacts.


The University has implemented and maintains an integrated Environmental and Energy Management System (EEMS) to drive continuous improvement in minimising our environmental impacts. This is externally accredited to ISO14001 and ISO5001.


We have developed and published a carbon management plan setting out our commitment to reach Net Zero Carbon by 2030. This details the 2008-2009 baseline (see Appendices 16.1 and 16.2) and milestone carbon reduction targets between now and 2030 (see Section 3.2), as well as setting out the expected costs for achieving this target (see Section 16.3). An annual budget is produced to support the planned projects for the upcoming year which are required to deliver against the plan (this is included as an appendix in our Environmental Sustainability Report). As referenced in section 15, the Net Zero Carbon Plan has been signed off by the University Executive Board and will be managed on a day-to-day basis by Sustainability Services, overseen, monitored and directed by the Environmental Sustainability Committee (ESC). Performance against the plan is monitored and reported on to the ESC (which includes senior representation) via our annual Environmental Sustainability report. This report is also made publicly available via our website. The committees list provides details of the roles/representatives that sit on our committees.

We recognise the importance of our wider impact outside of scope 1 and 2 emissions and have therefore reported on our scope 3 emissions within the carbon plan (see Appendices 16.1 and 16.2). A number of scope 3 emissions are included within the scope of our carbon reduction target, with other areas identified for further investigation and potential future action.

Our scope 3 emissions are reported to the Higher Education Statistic Agency (HESA). This information is publicly available on the HESA website under Estates Management Records (EMR). We also report scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions attributed to residential accommodation both within the carbon plan (see Appendix 16.2) and within the Environmental Sustainability report, Appendix 4.

Our carbon plan includes baseline emissions for the following areas (see Appendices 16.1 and 16.2):

  • Waste
  • Water
  • Procurement
  • Staff and student business travel
  • Staff and students commuting to the University on a daily basis
  • Carbon emissions associated with the travel between students’ homes and the University at the start and end of term

Emissions associated with water, waste and business travel are included within the scope of the Net Zero Carbon target as detailed in the report (see Section 3.3).


The University has extensive activity within food and drink and we have developed a sustainable food policy.

Our policy requires that sustainability standards are supported by our suppliers and embedded in tenders & contracts with external contractors/suppliers (see ‘How is the University working to achieve this?’ and Sections 2.1.4, 2.1.5, 1.10, 3.1.25 and Section 6).

All our physical outlets have been independently audited and certified through the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s Food Made Good scheme awarding us the maximum of three stars, as detailed in our sustainable food policy (see ‘How is the University working to achieve this?’).

We have a number of sustainable food projects including:


The University’s investment policy document includes our policy on ethical/responsible investment (see Section 5) and has been approved by the University Council. We have committed to list all investments annually.

Within our investment policy, we have a number of explicit exclusionary screens which includes weaponry and armaments and fossil fuels (see Section 5).

An ethical banking policy has now been incorporated within our treasury policy (see Section 13).

Information on the University’s accounts page provides the following investment information:

  • Investment policy (inclusive of ethical investment policy in section 5)
  • Annual list of investments
  • List of committee members that oversee investments
  • Ethical banking policy


Further information about our careers services can be found on our careers webpage. This page confirms the University careers services is not part of any combined careers services, and does not work with any third-party careers services. This page also provides a link to a directory of our careers team including their roles and contact details.


Sustainability is a core principle of the University’s overall strategy and as such is driven from the top. Our webpage on key sustainability staff details our senior management and committees that hold sustainability responsibilities.

This also provides details of our dedicated sustainability services team including their name, contact details and their role/area of sustainability.

The sustainability team is supported by budget to enable the implementation of projects to support delivery of our strategy. An updated budget for planned projects is produced as part of annual Environmental Sustainability Report. This can be found in Appendix 2 of the latest report. We recognise the important role that communication and engagement plays in supporting our strategy and driving behaviour/culture change. Consequently, additional budget is allocated to this as detailed in our annual communications plan.

We support staff engagement to involve staff in improving the environmental performance of the University through a number of initiatives:


The University is committed to supporting, promoting and improving understanding of Fairtrade to provide a positive impact. We are currently working towards recertification after the new Fairtrade University and College Award was introduced. Our Fairtrade webpage has a link to our policy and further information on what we are doing to support this.

Electronics Watch brings together public sector buyers and civil society organisations in electronics production regions with experts in human rights and global supply chains. It guides public procurement demand for decent working conditions in electronics supply chains. The University is affiliated with Electronics Watch as detailed on our responsible procurement webpage and the Electronics Watch affiliates page.

We have signed onto the ‘Can’t Buy My Silence’ pledge to stop using Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) for complaints about sexual harassment, bullying and other forms of misconduct. Our news article has more information on this.

We report data on staff records to the Higher Education Statistic Agency (HESA) which includes information on proportion of staff on fixed term contracts. This information is publicly available on the HESA website under staff records.


We recognise that the engagement of staff and students in sustainable development is a critical aspect of delivering against our strategy. As such as have developed a sustainability communications strategy which is supported by an annual communications plan.

Part of our engagement programme includes an annual green festival and this year we are also holding an additional staff engagement event themed around the Climate Stripes developed by the University’s Professor Ed Hawkins – ‘Show your stripes day’. The University also provides funds for student led sustainability initiatives.

Sustainability training is a mandatory requirement for all new staff as part of induction, and this is required to be repeated every 3 years at a minimum. Further information on what is included on the training module is detailed on our sustainability training webpage.

Our committees list details the members of each our committees. Student representation is included on some committees concerned with strategic planning, finance and resource allocation including the Estates Committee and Environmental Sustainability Committee.

The Reading University Students’ Union (RUSU) works toward continual improvement for environmental sustainability by mapping, auditing and tracking annual progress of its impact areas. Further detail on the activities which support this are detailed on the RUSU sustainability page including:


Sustainability is a cornerstone of the University of Reading's Strategic Plan and it is a priority to embed environmental sustainability across our curriculum and staff training programme.


We are proud to source REGO (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin) certified electricity, as well generating some of our own electricity via solar panels installed across our campus.

We report information on renewable sourced/generated energy to the Higher Education Statistic Agency (HESA). This information is publicly available on the HESA website under Estates Management Records.


We aim to be an efficient user of resources and prevent waste being created in the first place; and then to reduce, re-use, recycle and recover items and materials as detailed on our waste webpages.

We report information on our waste to the Higher Education Statistic Agency (HESA). This information is publicly available on the HESA website under Estates Management Records.


The University is committed to becoming Net Zero Carbon by 2030. We have completed and planned a number of carbon reduction projects to support our carbon reduction trajectory towards this target as detailed on our carbon management webpage.

We report information on our carbon emissions to the Higher Education Statistic Agency (HESA). This information is publicly available on the HESA website under Estates Management Records.


Water is a precious and limited resource and we are committed to managing its use effectively and reducing water use where possible as detailed on our water management webpage.

We report information on our water consumption to the Higher Education Statistic Agency (HESA). This information is publicly available on the HESA website under Estates Management Records.

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