Schools and universities represent 36% of total UK public sector building emissions1. Because of this, the education sector has an important role to play in mapping out a greener future to help the UK achieve Net Zero by 2050. We recognise this is a big challenge for some, whilst others have already been taking small steps. Wherever you are on your sustainability journey we are committed to supporting your transition to a greener business model and explore clean growth opportunities.

Getting started on your transition to Net Zero

  • Begin with considering where you are in your sustainability journey. Are you already Net Zero? Are you committed and have you set a deadline or not considered it yet? To help you understand where you are on your journey use our From Now to Net Zero(PDF, 4.4MB) report which provides expert insights and a five-step guide on getting started. 
  • Use the Clean Growth Audit(PDF, 3MB) tool to conduct a sustainability audit, help understand your current position and potential next steps to support your journey to Net Zero. 
  • Understand the benefits and opportunities of going green. More information on this can be found in our 6 reasons it pays to go green.
  • Read about the government’s ambition for a low carbon future in their Clean Growth Strategy
  • Look at the Get More Sustainable Fast Guide(PDF, 6.3MB) for simple tips and creative ideas to make your business more sustainable. 

Questions to consider

  • How has sustainability impacted the education sector in the past year?
  • What are the key risks you are seeing from climate change?
  • What are your pupils and teaching staff looking for from you on addressing sustainability and climate change?
  • What opportunities do you see for your establishment given the increasing focus on the climate emergency?
  •  What sustainability projects are you involved in?
  • Are any of your goals linked to sustainability? 

Areas to consider for the education sector

Energy efficiency

  • Carry out energy audits to track, report and reduce your energy usage. Use our Green Buildings Tool to pinpoint where you can make energy-efficient investments in your buildings.
  • Use a consultant to help build out a plan & some key actions. Education property consultants, Barker Associates share where schools and trusts can manage the rising price of energy and become more sustainable.
  • Nominate a sustainability champion responsible for managing sustainability initiatives and set targets to reduce emissions.
  • Take behavioural actions to reduce energy usage. For example, turn off lights when not in the room, shut down computers at night, service your boiler once a year.
  • Switch to a more sustainable energy provider, using companies such as the Big Clean Switch to help reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Understand your dependency on non-renewable fuels and create a plan to transition to cleaner fuels.
  • Consider how you can retrofit your estate such as; 
    • installing energy efficient lighting,
    • reduce air leaks around windows and doors,
    • ensure you have cavity wall insulation,
    • invest in technology to turn on appliances at specific times,
    • avoid blocking radiators which stop heat being circulated around the room.

The Energy Technology List helps you search for energy efficient products to help save you money.

Waste reduction

  • Set waste reduction goals and appoint someone responsible for monitoring these.
  • Ensure you have recycling bins across your sites.
  • Ban single use plastic.
  • Reduce printing where possible.
  • Consider your current waste disposal policy and if this is fit for purpose.


  • Encourage staff and pupils to walk or take public transport to school.
  • Promote cycle to work scheme to staff. You can get guidance from the government website (PDF, 1.6MB) about how you can support this.
  • Ensure you have the facilities to allow pupils and staff to cycle to work such as bike racks and changing rooms.
  • Think about transitioning to electric vehicles for school activities. See more about our electric vehicle options.
  • Ensure you have charging points to allow electric vehicles to be used . See more about our charging options.

Supply chain


Water usage

  • Monitor water usage.
  • Maintain pipes to detect and stop leaks.
  • Upgrade to automatic taps to stop them being left running and install low flush toilets.

Further resources

Department for Education

Read the Department for Education’s sustainability & climate change white paper.

SME Climate Hub

Look at the government's business climate hub.

Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

Learn more by using their online learning & sustainability courses.

Let's Go Zero

Let's Go Zero is the national campaign uniting teachers, pupils, parents and their schools as they all work together to be zero carbon by 2030.


Related Links

Sustainability Hub

Resources and guidance to help your business make a difference to the environment and reduce costs at the same time.

Clean Growth Financing Initiative

From small improvements in environmental impact, right through to large-scale renewable energy infrastructure our Clean Growth Financing Initiative can help.

Sustainability Voices

Featuring experts and customers discussing the opportunities and challenges facing you and your organisation’s journey to Net Zero.

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