Towards the attainment of a sustainable, healthy and living campus

The sustainability related content on the Estate Services website is currently being updated (21/02/2023)

Sustainable development and climate change are two of the greatest challenges of our time and require attention and action from individuals, organisations and governments.

UCD recognises the important role it has to play as a leader in these global challenges, not only in research and teaching but also in the operation and development of the UCD estate.

The University seeks the attainment of a sustainable, healthy and living campus and as such endeavours to manage the campus in a way that considers energy and water usage, waste management, sustainable commuting and biodiversity in all of its activities where relevant.

“University College Dublin’s vision is to be an exemplar institution in energy management. We shall meet or exceed legislation and best practice relating to all aspects of energy use."

UCD achieved the 2020 targets 1 year early!

UCD is playing its part in the global effort against climate change through the efficient usage of energy and increasing the amount of energy sourced from low-carbon or renewable generation.

As a result of these efforts, UCD managed to reach the 2020 targets one year early. The targets required a 33% improvement in energy efficiency with UCD achieving 24.1% based on calendar year 2019.

As a result of Covid-19, and reduced activity on campus, consumption was unusually low in 2020. However, the UCD Energy Team, operating within Estate Services took this as an opportunity to review building base-loads and ensure that the maximum level of energy savings were achieved during this period while maintaining essential services.

The UCD Energy Unit manages the UCD Energy Management System (EnMs), which has been developed to meet ISO50001 standard – the international standard in energy management.

However, the UCD community, which is the ultimate user of this energy also has an important role to play by “switching off” all non-essential equipment, reporting maintenance issues such as lights remaining on at night and closing windows each evening.

New targets for the University include a reduction carbon emission by 50% and a further improvement in energy efficiency to 50% by 2030. These are ambitious targets and will require the continued participation of students, staff, and student residents.

“UCD Estate Services supporting the Green Campus Committee in its goal to achieve the An Taisce Green Flag for UCD”

In 2015 a group of students and staff set up a Green Campus Committee...

In 2015 a group of students and staff set up a Green Campus Committee. The group, which is chaired by the VP for Campus Development, Professor Michael Monaghan, aim is to achieve the An Taisce Green Flag for UCD.
The Green-Campus Programme (based on the successful Green-Schools Programme) provides a means to foster environmental awareness in a third level institution in a way that links to everyday activities and study, and ties in with the operational requirements of a complex multi-use facility.
The Green Campus Committee registered with An Taisce in early 2016 and aims to achieve the Green Flag by the end of 2019.

“To continue to reduce the use of potable water and find effective, efficient and sustainable ways to source the University's water needs.”

A new strategy for a growing campus...

With the knowledge of continued expansion due to UCD’s intensive capital building programme and with ageing water infrastructure in some areas of the campus, a strategic plan was formulated aimed at carrying out a major renewal and upgrade programme over a 5 year duration starting in 2010/2011.

The over-riding aim of this strategy was to conserve water, improve control, reliability, firefighting ability, water quality and monitoring of the existing water main network and to enhance surface water protection.

“Minimising the impact of UCD generated waste on the environment and increasing recycling rate”

Less than 10% of UCD's waste ends up in landfill.

UCD produces approx. 2,000 tonnes of Mixed Municipal Wastes per annum. Through processes used by its waste management service providers, less than 10% of this waste ends up in landfill.

Estate Services is working to achieve higher direct recycling rates, alterations to the management of the external component of the waste management process has taken place over the last 18 months and systems are now in place to manage the transport and bulk collection of different waste streams.

“To protect and enhance the UCD natural environment in a way that fosters biodiversity while providing a recreational amenity for the UCD community”

The 335 acre UCD Belfield Campus is an invaluable asset...

The 335 acre UCD Belfield Campus is an invaluable asset, providing a woodland and parkland backdrop to Ireland’s largest University. The campus features almost 40 acres of woodland with approximately 50,000 tress, natural watercourses and lakes, parkland and wildflower meadows, all of which support a rich mixture of flora and fauna.
The woodland is made accessible by a series of interconnected woodland pathways, ensuring this unique resources can be enjoyed by the UCD Community.

The University Sustainable Procurement Policy supports, and is supported by, the University's Sustainable Development Goals. This policy applies to all members of staff at UCD who are involved in purchasing goods and services.

The purpose of this policy is to support the University's overarching Strategic Plan and to ensure that staff involved in the procurement of goods, services and works throughout the University consider appropriate environmental, social and economic factors in their purchasing decisions.

Sustainable Procurement – Definition

Sustainable Procurement is an approach to sourcing fit-for-purpose products and services that takes into account the economic, environmental and social impacts of a supply network.

Procurement, Contracts & Buying Function

Also known as ‘green purchasing’, sustainable procurement addresses environmental and social factors, as well as the total costs associated with each purchase. It means looking at what products are made of, where they come from, how they are made, and how they will be disposed of. It is also about evaluating whether a purchase needs to be made at all, e.g., consider renting/ leasing, loaning or sharing existing equipment with various schools/departments on campus and with other institutions.

Sustainable Procurement should consider the environmental, social and economic consequences of: design; nonrenewable material use; manufacture and production methods; logistics; service delivery; use; operation; maintenance; reuse; recycling options and disposal of all goods and services purchased by the University. Suppliers' capabilities to address these consequences throughout the supply network should also be taken into consideration.

Policy Statement

UCD has a long-standing commitment to leadership in the area of sustainability. As part of that commitment, the Procurement, Contracts and Buying Office has incorporated the principles of sustainable purchasing into many of its contracts. Consistent with the University’s sustainability goals, UCD shall require all tendered suppliers to incorporate sustainable practices and sustainable elements in the goods and services they provide. UCD will promote environmentally responsible procurement by identifying sustainable products and services, practices, processes and procedures.


UCD’s objectives for Sustainable Procurement are to:

  • comply with all relevant legislative and regulatory requirements;
  • reduce the demand for products and services by promoting the waste hierarchy of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’, thereby cutting down on waste and promoting re-use and recycling;
  • source sustainable products and services where reuse or repurposing are unavailable;
  • prioritise environmental, economic and social repercussions when purchasing goods or services;
  • include sustainability criteria when evaluating tenders from potential suppliers;
  • ensure the efficient management of existing resources;
  • promote compliance with UCD’s sustainable procurement guidelines when considering the purchaseof goods or services; and
  • encourage all staff commissioning procurement of products or services to consider sustainability issues that their purchase may raise.

“As a community, we have to take responsibility for the impact of commuting, which is why we have prepared our first ever UCD Travel Plan.”

We’re on the road to a healthier and more sustainable community...

As a Smarter Travel Campus Partner in conjunction with the National Transportation Authority (NTA), our ambition is to be recognised as an exemplar in sustainable transportation.

The UCD Travel Plan is key to achieving more sustainable travel patterns associated with the University. It is also referenced as a specific objective of the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council (DLRCoCo) County Development Plan 2016-2022. The implementation of this Travel Plan will be funded by revenues raised from permit parking on our campuses.