University of Reading


The art of SMART sustainability leadership

Reading is a university which consistently sets and achieves ambitious SMART sustainability targets - meeting all of its headline 5-year targets in 2021.

Carbon reductions of 46% have been achieved (45% target), with 39% non-residential water reductions (35% target).  Cumulatively, since 2008/09 this has delivered impressive savings of 167,718 tCO2 and £39 million.  Meanwhile, a 60% recycling rate target has been successfully achieved and a stretch sustainable travel target of 87% of commuting by sustainable means.  All figures are adjusted for COVID impacts to avoid overstating them.

Sustainability is now embedded into key University decision, with all strategic change proposals needing to consider their impact on environmental sustainability as one of 4 key University principles.

In education and research, the University had a high number of lead authors for the latest IPCC Advisory Reports, our climate stripes graphics are internationally recognised, and we have led on the development of a new National Climate Education Action Plan.

Annual carbon savings achieved with the initiative:

Top 3 Learnings

  1. SMART targets deliver smart achievements and instil a sense of belief and confidence.
  2. Success breeds success – so it’s good to get some ‘early wins’ under your belt.
  3. The best ideas are rarely your own – work with others within and beyond your boundaries to maximise the chance of success.
4 - Quality Education 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production 13 - Climate Action

Sustainability Institution of the Year

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