Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Practical advice

Practical advice for carrying out research and teaching in a more sustainable way.


Research often requires energy-intensive equipment and travelling, which contributes significantly to the University’s environmental impact. Where students are often passive users of facilities like the library, computer rooms and lecture theatres, researchers tend to have more control over the resources and spaces they use. Making sustainable choices during research can, therefore, have a significant overall impact.

Doing research in more sustainable ways means making responsible use of resources, and minimising the social and environmental impact of your practices.

See below for specific things you can do.


Social responsibility and sustainability considerations can be woven into the content being taught, and good practice can be passed on in lab and workshop settings. Our 'degrees, courses and pathways' section showcases some of the courses that have a sustainability focus. Please get in touch if you would like your course to be added to the list.

It is worth noting that courses do not need to be sustainability focussed to have sustainability principles embedded in the teaching.

Degrees, courses and pathways

More resources:

Learning for Sustainability Scotland Responsible Futures

Day-to-day actions

What can you do daily in your office and/or lab that will save energy and other resources?

Sustainable Labs Save energy Reduce waste Travelling sustainably around Edinburgh Work with others to improve your area with the Sustainability Awards

Sustainable business travel

Travel is an integral part of working in academia. It brings opportunities for collaboration, which are important, impactful and necessary.

At the same time, travel has a significant environmental and financial impact. From travelling by rail to opting for video conferencing, our guidance offers advice on how to choose the most carbon efficient travel mode and promotes non-travel solutions that help save time and costs.

Sustainable business travel 

Sourcing and reusing items

Need to source a PC for someone joining your research group? Have equipment leftover from a one-off project that could be put to use elsewhere in the University? Warp It and the PC reuse project exist to help you reuse resources within the University. You can also consider lending and borrowing items, or sourcing second hand from elsewhere.

Claim and reuse IT equipment Claim and reuse other items with Warp It Purchasing guidance

Catering and events

The University of Edinburgh is committed to sustainable food practices. Our Good Food Policy takes a whole institution approach to food and its connection to health and sustainability. You can also read our more general tips on running a sustainable event.

Good Food Policy Top tips for running a sustainable event


Sustainability means living within the limits of what the Earth can provide while ensuring fulfilling lives for everyone. It requires us to look beyond our immediate concerns to the wellbeing of future generations, and those currently living in poverty. As researchers we should take care to minimise the environmental impacts of doing our work, and be mindful of the wider implications of our research for a sustainable future.

Dr. Simon AllenLecturer in Sustainable Development, University of Edinburgh


You can view all of our staff guidance here:

Find out what all staff can do Be sustainable online training