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The College is establishing new systems for assessing, monitoring and curbing its emissions to land, air and water and reducing waste arisings, energy use and carbon intensity of all aspects of its operations. We actively encourage awareness of the environment and climate change, and we support the practices and initiatives of our students, staff, researchers, alumni and innovation start-ups where these contribute to sustainability goals.

Environmental policy

The RCA is currently updating its Environmental Policy to reflect its new sustainability strategies and its commitment to achieving ISO 14001 accreditation, the recognised international standard in environment management and a globally recognised mark of excellence.  

Working towards ISO 14001 is now a strategic priority for the College’s Schools and professional and technical services teams, and is already reflected in ambitious sustainability performance targets captured within the College’s new Strategic Plan 2022–27.

Improvement initiatives

The College’s Estates & Campus Operations team is pulling together a range of initiatives to identify specific areas of improvement of our environmental performance.  Examples are:

  • Food waste: The RCA is committing to the London Higher Operations Network’s Circular Food Sprint, run in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the Mayor of London’s Food Flagship Initiative, which aims to create a circular food economy for London HE campuses
  • Energy use: The College is reviewing its current metering and procurement contracts for supply of utilities (electricity, gas and water) to identify opportunities to improve energy efficiency and improve our use of energy from renewable and sustainable sources, rather than from fossil fuels.

Sustainability research and innovation

Wayne Binitie and Catherine Dormor with 1765 Sculpture, which contains an ampule of air from that year

The RCA nurtures an environment where research and innovation flourish. Increasingly these supported projects and start-ups focus on sustainability and the reduction of environmental impact. The College is engaged across all programmes, at all levels, in rethinking how societies, industries and individuals can pursue their aims while reducing emissions and waste, eradicating pollution and maintaining biodiversity.

Examples of recent projects and initiatives include:

Sustainability challenges

Terra Carta Design Lab

The RCA’s staff, students and alumni regularly take part in challenges designed to tackle sustainability and climate change issues. Recent examples include:

Coral structures on a brown seabed with tropical fish

Sustainability statements of intent

A Sustainability Statement of Intent (SSI) is a working manifesto to be discussed and contributed to by technicians, teaching staff and students. The aim is to clarify what sustainability means in the particular practical context of a given programme or medium, acknowledging the responsibility of academics, technicians and students to support and pursue sustainable practices, and to approach each programme’s materials, processes and production with a critical understanding of their impact. 

Currently, SSIs are a component exclusive to the School of Arts and Humanities.

SustainLab

SustainLab is a collaborative platform for all RCA students wanting to explore issues of sustainability and discuss how it can be progressed. It is a social and productive forum in which ideas can be challenged, investigated, experimented on and shared. SustainLab organises events, workshops and biweekly open crits for students interested in developing their knowledge of sustainability and its incorporation into their creative processes.