Social Responsibility and Sustainability


It's easy to be socially responsible and sustainable at the University of Edinburgh.

Download a copy of this guide

Our Be Sustainable guide offers information and tools to guide the University community to act more sustainably within University structures. All the information is available on the pages below, or you can instead download a copy to print out or keep.

Circular Economy

The Circular Economy is about transitioning from a ‘take-make-dispose’ linear approach to resource use, to systems that encourage reuse and extraction of maximum value before returning resources to the biosphere.

Computers and printing

Most University staff and students use a computer or other electronic equipment every day.

Climate change

Zero by 2040
Edinburgh’s expertise in climate change and its effects is world-leading. Its researchers have secured more than £50 million over the past seven years to fund work on climate science, emissions mitigation and sustainable solutions.


The University has made a commitment to reducing its carbon emissions by cutting down on its energy use.

Fair trade

fair trade
We have been a Fairtrade University since 2004, making commitments to fair trade procurement, awareness-raising, and research.


Food icon
The University of Edinburgh is committed to sustainable food practices.


Labs use many times more energy and water per square metre than office spaces. Being conscious of your resource and energy use can make a big difference.

Low carbon & renewable energy

Since 2002 the University has invested more than £20 million in an efficient network of low carbon and renewable power generation that now provides the majority of our energy needs.


When purchasing, think about the whole life of the product: what it is made from and how it was made, how it will be used, what will happen to it at the end of its life?

Recycling and resource efficiency

recycling resource effeciency
University’s current targets are to increase the proportion of waste recycled by 3% annually, to reduce waste sent to landfill by 3% annually, and to send zero biodegradable waste to landfill by 2020.

Research and teaching

We support academics researching and teaching social responsibility and sustainability-related issues by facilitating networking and collaborating on projects.

Responsible investment

Responsible investment section image - white sign post on red background
The University of Edinburgh was the first university in Europe to sign the UN Principles of Responsible Investment, and has committed to avoid investments in fossil fuels, controversial weapons, and tobacco.


Practically all modes of travel apart from walking and cycling depend on fossil fuels, meaning that the way we choose to travel can have a big impact on the environment.

Welfare and wellbeing

The University has a legal obligation to tackle discrimination and is committed to embedding equality and diversity across all its work. In short, this means ensuring staff and students are treated fairly and equally, and recognising, respecting and valuing differences.

Public engagement

Public Engagement section image - people icons on orange background
Public engagement involves higher education institutions and their staff and students connecting and sharing their work with the public. It generates mutual benefit through the sharing of knowledge, expertise and skills.


Community section image - silhouette of Edinburgh skyline with light blue background
The University, founded as the Tounis College (or town's college) has always been part of the City. Now, with over 35,000 staff and students, we are a significant presence, not only in Edinburgh and Midlothian, but also in Scotland and beyond.

Reporting faults

reporting faults
Everybody can and should report problems in their building as soon as possible.