Environmental sustainability

Graphic with words: World class research and education. Achieved sustainability

Tackling climate change and improving health

As a global health institution we recognise our impact on the environment due to the nature of the work we do. We are taking significant steps to ensure this impact is mitigated and have a plan to deliver our mission in a sustainable way. The plans include a reduction of our carbon emissions and improvement of our overall environmental performance. We identified the actions that we need to take in order to achieve the ECMP targets, we have set-up sustainability subgroups based on the emissions scopes. Those groups are working together and are a core to achieving the goals set in ECMP. Our Sustainability Update 2021 (pdf) gives further insight into our progress and future plans.

Alongside these and other efforts, LSHTM jumped 66 places in the People & Planet University League between 2016 to 2019 and is now 52nd out of 154 UK universities for environmental and ethical performance.

The MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM is also leading the way in solar power use. Officials from the Gambian Government’s Ministry of Petroleum & Energy and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization attended the historic inauguration of a solar power generation system at MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM - the biggest of its kind in The Gambia. It will produce 920 megawatts per annum, reducing energy bills by 25% and cutting 1,250 tons of annual carbon emissions. The initiative was also highlighted by the Gambian Government at COP25 in Madrid.

Divesting from fossil fuels

LSHTM is a world leader in research on the health implications of climate change and policy responses. We are committed to improving our environmental sustainability, including through the holdings in our investment portfolio. LSHTM divested from coal in 2015, and in 2020 we stated our intention to completely divest from fossil fuels. As of 31 December 2020 our investments in fossil fuels stood at £116,507, all of which we committed to removing from our portfolio by August 2021. As of July 2021, we divested our only remaining direct holding in a fossil fuel company. LSHTM has no plans to hold any direct investment in fossil fuels in the future.

Energy and carbon management plan

In response to the UK Parliament declaring a climate change emergency in May 2019, we developed a comprehensive energy and carbon management plan with a commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030. Find out more about the plan and work being taken forward by our staff community to deliver it.

Our plan has a commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030 against a 2018/19 baseline through cumulative carbon reduction efforts across Scopes 1, 2, and 3 emissions – delivering at least a 50% reduction, with carbon offsetting used only for unavoidable emissions.

Scope 1

Direct greenhouse gas emissions from energy sources owned or controlled by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Scope 2

Indirect greenhouse gas emissions from consumption of purchased electricity, heat, or steam.

Scope 3*

Other indirect emissions related to waste, water, travel, and procurement. *Scope 3 contributes around 70% to our carbon emissions.

Image with multiple graphs showing changes to energy use and carbon emissions at LSHTM from 2020 to 2021

Sustainability themes

LSHTM flask bottle with mosquitos

LSHTM is a Fairtrade accredited University. We are committed to supporting Fairtrade in the products we procure and are seeking new ways to incorporate and promote Fairtrade across catering and other services. ​

In 2019, food served in our cafés and at catered events was redesigned to feature a ‘Planetary Pick’ menu that provides a healthy diet which also minimises environmental damage to our planet.

LSHTM has produced branded water bottles to promote reusable items as we are committed to decreasing the usage of single-use plastic. 

The Seacole Social Cafe on Tavistock Place is committed to sustainability in its operations. Keepcups are on sale and disposable cups are compostable Vegware types

Eco-friendly cleaning products are also used to keep areas clean and fresh without the use of harsh, synthetic chemical solvents.   

The catering department offer free water refills, and everyone has access to the dedicated fountains across Keppel Street Building, and Tavistock Place. 

The school is working on a third-party certification called Green Kitchen Standard.  

Business travel

As highlighted in our Energy and Carbon Management Plan, business travel is a big part of our carbon emissions. We are committed to making changes in this area, in order to achieve our goal to be net-zero carbon in 2030 we had to look very closely at our travel trends. 

We have just finished collecting data from our travel survey. This will help us analyse the pre-COVID-19 business travel trends and to plan for a more sustainable future. 

To help us identify our position in the Higher Education Sector we analysed other institutions, charities and also the private sector in order to be able to benchmark where we are. 


LSHTM encourages all staff to choose environment-friendly means of commuting. 

Staff members are entitled to apply for the Cycle to Work Scheme - a UK government initiative providing a tax free benefit on the cost of a new bike and equipment. ​

We review our options regularly and are happy to implement innovations that would help staff and students to choose a greener commute. Currently, we are working on new schemes, the information will be available on this page once approved.  ​

Below you can find tips and advice on cycling and walking routes.

Waste and recycling

We have an ongoing initiative to reduce total waste volumes and increase the percentage of recycled waste. Our Environmental Policy endorsed by the Bloomsbury Colleges commits the partners to “Minimise the impact and use of natural resources by reusing materials, recycling and reducing waste to landfill".​

The Colleges are now in the process of revising their waste contractors based on the London Universities Purchasing Consortium sustainable waste framework guidelines in order to ensure:

  • Efficient segregation of waste streams and zero waste to landfill
  • Accurate waste data to be provided on a regular basis

​LSHTM with other partners are continually raising awareness of staff and employees to ensure waste produced is reduced and recycling rates are increased. Thinking before purchasing is central to this effort.

  • Our Waste Management Policy and supporting guidance confirms how the School manages all waste streams arising from all its business activities in addition to highlighting opportunities for increasing re-use and recycling.
  • Download our recycling guide and never be confused again.

We are committed to improving our waste management following the guidance in the new Energy & Carbon Management Plan.

We are committed to decreasing use of all resources that we can, have a look at our paper guidelines and paper usage tips to find out what actions we are taking. 

Sustainable purchasing

Purchasing is one of the areas where we had to change our approach. Having a lot of suppliers on our books meant too many deliveries and as a part of Bloomsbury Colleges Group, we are looking into consolidating some of them. 

You can read our Energy and Carbon Management Plan to find out more.

We are currently undertaking a sustainability questionnaire, as we aim that our suppliers are also committed to environmental sustainability.

For information on what to look at when considering making a purchase have a look at our sustainable purchasing guide

Sustainable laboratories

We recognise the value of laboratories in perpetuating world class research, however labs can have some negative operational impacts. Particularly, they are often attributed to high energy and water consumption (up to 10x more energy per square meter than non-laboratory areas), as well as hazardous and non-hazardous waste generation compared to other sites across the Bloomsbury Colleges.

Working with operational and academic partners we are committed to improving sustainability practises across all laboratories, which in turn will create safer working environments, and increased operational efficiency.

Collectively across labs there are opportunities to have an overarching positive impact on the environment, economy and society.

LSHTM have won sustainable labs award previously. The Sustainable Labs initiative, has been named as the winner of the Laboratory Improvement category at the 2019 S-Lab Awards!

The bottom-up initiative has saved the School at least £300,000 in equipment, energy and waste. Initiatives have included an institution-wide lab sustainability group; sustainability-focused exit and induction processes; information and awareness materials for staff and students; development of central - and more efficient and resilient - sample storage space; a two-for-one freezer replacement scheme; fume cupboard sash and electrics switch-off campaigns; an equipment and consumables swap shop; recycling equipment through the Unigreen Scheme; running autoclaves on minimal cycles; and sustainability guidance for lab refurbishments.​​

Policies and procedures

Prof Alan Dangour was the specialist advisor to the UK Government’s Environmental Audit Committee for the inquiry on planetary health. The resulting ‘Our Planet, Our Health’ report published by the House of Commons highlighted how climate change could affect the health and well-being of the UK’s population. Contributions were also made by Professor Sir Andy Haines, Professor Charlotte Watts, Professor Chris Whitty and Professor Claire Heffernan.

Bloomsbury Greenthing

LSHTM, Birkbeck and SOAS have a joint sustainability team which dedicated to enhancing environmental improvements across the three partners. Bloomsbury Greenthing is jointly funded by all three institutes and work programmes are agreed annually based on the projects under development and other marketing, awareness raising and training needs. This includes enhancing improvements across the institutions inclusive of sustainability projects within the estates and maintenance teams.

Learn more about Bloomsbury Colleges Environmental Sustainability.

infographic image of sustainability statistics from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine