The Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability is five years old!

In April 2019, the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability celebrates its fifth birthday. Discover our key achievements from the last 5 years and take part in our online celebrations with #SRSchangemakers.

Our staff outside our new home in The Boilerhouse, High School Yards
Our staff outside our new home in the Boilerhouse, High School Yards

The Department enables the University to understand, explain and deliver on its ambition to be a leading socially responsible and sustainable university. Our key areas of focus are the University's carbon emissions, supply chains, resource use, responsible investments and community engagement

In April 2019 our department will be five years old... happy birthday to us!

How we're celebrating: #SRSchangemakers

We want to celebrate our fifth birthday in a low-impact way, so rather than a party, we're sharing all the great things that staff and students are doing to make the University more socially responsible and sustainable using the hashtag #SRSchangemakers on our social media channels. We're doing this because we want to inspire more people to take action to help protect the planet and improve people's lives... and see that every small action counts.

Would you like to be featured or know someone who would? Tag us in your posts or email us your story at 

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dave gorman


There are so many staff and students doing amazing things to make the University more socially responsible and sustainable. In April 2019, to celebrate our fifth birthday, we're sharing their stories and achievements on social media using #SRSchangemakers, and I encourage you to do the same. Tag us in your posts or email us at

Dave GormanDirector, Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Our history

The Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability's early roots were in 2008 as a "Transition Edinburgh University" project - part of the Transition movement - which was supported by the Scottish Government's Climate Challenge Fund. The small team focused on practical ways for staff and students to reduce the University's environmental impact. By 2011, this had transformed into an 'energy engagement' project with the Estates Department, and in 2012 merged with a recently-established Sustainability Office. In April 2014, the Sustainability Office moved out of Estates to become its own department: the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability.

Read our full history 

Key achievements

Zero by 2040 logo

The University's Department of Social Responsibility and Sustainability was the first of its kind in the UK, and seen as a sector leader in global FHE, culminating in winning "Sustainability Institution of the Year" at the 2018 Green Gown Awards.

In 2016, the University's Climate Change Strategy presented our bold vision to be carbon neutral by 2040, and to divest from fossil fuels by 2021. We also launched Edinburgh Local, ensuring the University benefits the local community through the Community Engagement Strategy. In 2018, we donated £1.5 million to social enterprises through Big Issue Invest, the largest donation by a University in the UK. 

These achievements are not ours alone; they are the results of hard work by hundreds of staff and students over the years.

Explore a timeline of our key achievements 

How we deliver on the University's Social Responsibility & Sustainability strategy

Sustainable development goals

From working with researchers to tackle real-life issues through our Living Lab projects, improving the University estate by investing in more sustainable equipment via the Sustainable Campus Fund, and enabling students to gain experience in interdisciplinary research and learning through our Student Pathways; the Department contributes to various elements of studying and working at the University of Edinburgh.

Transparency is part of our commitment to Social responsibility and Sustainability.  The annual Sustainability and Social Responsibility Report provides an overview on those commitments and issues that are of most importance to our stakeholders. The report also highlights projects and activities that directly contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Get involved

Feeling inspired? Visit the pages below to find out what action you can take to make the University more socially responsible and sustainable.

Find out what staff can do Find out what students can do Find out what academics can do Find out more about what we do