Our estate and operations

The University’s new Estates 2035 vision recognises the key role our buildings and spaces play in protecting the environment.

Our Environment and Sustainability Framework underpins decisions taken on our estate and operations initiatives, such as construction projects, infrastructure and space development and waste management, and sets out our approach to mitigating the impacts associated with the university’s activities and operations.

Climate change

We’re committed to tackling climate change and the University of Hertfordshire has made a board level commitment to become net zero by 2050 – at the latest.

We’re using the Science Based Targets approach to set a clearly defined path to reduce our emissions, and by adopting an integrated approach across the University and setting ambitious targets for action, Herts aims to reduce the University’s overall carbon impact and empower positive action within our communities.

As part of our commitment to carbon reduction, we have pledged to the United Nations’ Race to Zero global campaign, which aims for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates good jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth.

Our Net Zero Action plan sets out the University’s approach to addressing the climate crisis and provides detail and clarity around our intentions and commitments. We’re implanting targeted plans to further reduce our carbon emissions from the University’s use of energy, transport and travel, construction and procurement activities. Find out more in our Climate Change Vision.


With three campuses covering more than 200 hectares of land, the University of Hertfordshire is home to a wide variety of habitats, from ancient woodlands to amenity grassland, ponds and lakes, to a pinetum.

As stewards of the land, these special habitats provide plenty of opportunities for conservation and enrichment, and the protection and enhancement of biodiversity across our campus is a key priority at Herts.

We’re a founding member of the United Nations' Nature Positive Universities

Launched at COP15 in December 2022, Herts is a founding member of Nature Positive Universities, a new initiative created for the higher education sector by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the University of Oxford in partnership with the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

As part of the Nature Positive Universities campaign, we’ll focus on restoring species and ecosystems that have been harmed by the impacts of the University and its activities, from our teaching and research through to our operations and supply chain, and we’ll work to further enhance our positive impacts on nature. Our Nature Positive Universities targets and actions are included in our new Campus Biodiversity Strategy.

Waste management and the circular economy at Herts

An integral part of Herts’ Environment and Sustainability Framework, our sustainable and efficient waste management systems aim to ultimately reduce the amount of waste generated within the University’s premises, as well as embedding sustainable waste disposal and recycling practices across our campus.

We’re further reducing our waste by adopting a circular economy approach at the University, where the reuse, repurposing, and recycling of materials extends a product’s life cycle. This involves implementing practices such as composting organic waste, encouraging the use of reusable products across our communities, and promoting responsible consumption among students and staff.

Embracing the principles of a circular economy not only helps reduce our environmental impact, but also presents valuable opportunities for innovation, cost efficiencies, and the development of a greener and more sustainable University estate.

Our waste and resource management strategy

The University’s waste and resource management strategy is based on the UK government’s five principles of waste hierarchy, which ranks waste management measures in order of priority based on environmental impact.

With prevention and reduction being the preferred options, all stages of a product’s life cycle are considered, which means embedding sustainability at the procurement phase too. Our sustainable procurement policy aims to not only help reduce the amount of waste produced, but also to ensure that products and services purchased in the University’s supply chain align with our waste management, carbon reduction and social values.

Our commitments at Herts

To reduce the environmental impact of our estate and operations, we have committed to:

  • Reduce the University’s negative impact on climate change through our Net Zero Action Plan
  • Reduce carbon emissions derived from energy consumption through our Net Zero Action Plan and Energy Policy
  • Encourage sustainable travel to and from the University and between campuses through our Travel Plan
  • Take account of sustainable construction principles in University new builds and refurbishment projects
  • Protect and enhance biodiversity and wildlife habitats on our campuses through our Biodiversity Action Plan
  • Reduce waste production, promote resource efficiency, and encourage circular economy principles through our Waste and Resource Management Plan
  • Reduce the environmental impact of the University’s procurement processes and supporting responsible procurement through our Sustainable Purchasing Policy, including our Catering Sustainability Strategy
  • Reduce water consumption and improving water efficiency through our Water Policy
  • Prevent pollution by managing and reducing emissions to air and discharges to water through our Environment and Sustainability Policy and Environment Management System (EMS)
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and waste arising from construction and refurbishment through our Sustainable Construction Policy.

Compliance and Governance

To ensure the successful implementation of our sustainability agenda, we have established a robust governance structure that brings together stakeholders and management commitments from across the university. This ensures accountability, coordination, and strategic decision-making at each level, ultimately driving the integration of sustainability principles throughout the University.

We have embedded an externally accredited Environmental Management System (EMS) to ensure we effectively manage and meet our legal, internal, and external environmental compliance obligations, and strive for continual improvement. Our EMS currently holds Eco-Campus Platinum status and is ISO14001:2015 certified.