1. Environmental Sustainability; Policy and Strategy 2017

An environmental policy provides a formal, public and permanent demonstration of intent regarding performance. It is crucial in ensuring there is sustained, strategic improvement in environmental performance, backed up by senior management and with adequate resources.

Policy, targets and reporting are key drivers of performance improvement across the sector and the People & Planet University League awards points for those with environmental policies and associated strategies which; set specific and time-bound targets or performance indicators covering all major aspects of environmental management.

Simply complying with environmental legislation is deemed insufficient. Universities are only awarded maximum points in this section if their policy or related action plan or strategy sets SMART targets for improvements in all eight key areas of environmental management.

To score in this criteria, People & Planet will find the following documents on the university website…

Publicly Available Policy

1. An environmental or environmental sustainability policy – published or reviewed and updated within the last 5 years.


  • People & Planet will look for the policy on the university website

  • Policy is clearly signed off at senior level in the last 5 years.The policy clearly include date of publication and university staff role or committee responsible.

  • The policy must include a commitment to be reported on annually to a senior level of the university or a report from the last year must be publicly available with the policy document.

Score 50%

Targets and Strategy

2. A university environmental sustainability strategy (or similar) setting specific, time bound targets for reducing environmental impact in the 8 key areas below, either published or reviewed and reported on within the last 5 years. The strategy should be in date, i.e. “strategy for 2011-16” would now be out of date.

Note: At least 5 of these area must be present in the strategy in order to score.

  • Construction & Refurbishment
  • Emissions & Discharges
  • Community involvement
  • Biodiversity
  • Waste management
  • Travel and Transport
  • Sustainable procurement
  • Water

Score maximum of 50%

8 out of 8 criteria met - 50%

7 out of 8 criteria met - 40%

6 out of 8 criteria met -30%

5 out of 8 criteria met - 20%

less than 5 - 0%

SMART targets (a baseline has been measured and a timebound target has been set)

  • For some universities these targets are set as part of the policy on a specific project , e.g. a new construction project - People & Planet will look for information that demonstrates how the university is reviewing project specific policy as part of their sustainability strategy.
  • Some universities have concluded that they do not produce any emissions and discharges, if this is the case then people & Planet will look for a target that reviews this position i.e. “to review whether university produces any emissions and discharges in e.g. 5 years”. It is important that universities are re-visiting all key areas of sustainability as their estate grows and changes.
  • Energy and carbon are usually included within sustainability strategy targets, however for the purpose of the university league, they are accounted for within both the Environmental Management and Carbon Management sections of the methodology.

People & Planet understand that universities with comprehensive Environmental Management Systems will set and review targets within that system. Whilst an invaluable tool, information held within an EMS is often inaccessible to the university community and civic society. A sustainability strategy that clearly outlines targets is much more accessible for students, staff and interested parties to read and this is what People & Planet will be looking for.