Strategy and Vision

The University seeks to adopt a whole-institution approach to sustainability and social responsibility and recognises these twin-principles as being at the heart of what the University does.


In an era of significant societal challenges, an effective approach to sustainability and social responsibility ensures that limited resources are used efficiently and that activity is conducted in a way that minimises environmental impacts, while demonstrating an awareness of ethical and social responsibilities.

We recognise that the sustainability legacy and impact of the University will be measured not only by carbon emissions or landfill tonnage, but by the sustainability of our decision-making, by the quality and global relevance of our research, and by our role in developing active and engaged graduates with the attributes necessary to tackle the challenges facing society.


During 2012/13 we drafted our first Sustainability & Social Responsibility Strategy. It identified the breadth of the sustainability agenda and targeted the adoption of a whole-institution approach to these twin principles. 

We welcome the work of the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) in helping to frame the emerging sector consensus on what a 'whole-institution' approach looks like.  This informed our focus on: 

  • Leadership and Communication (Culture)
  • Estate and Infrastructure (Campus)
  • Partnership and Engagement (Community)
  • Learning, Teaching & Research (Curriculum)

By adopting this structure we acknowledge that, alongside the estate and environmental issues, a whole-institutional approach needs to reflect a broad range of issues that cut across teaching, research and all aspects of administration.

This builds on our experience as a participant in the early Universities that Count (UTC) benchmarking index and is in line with the EAUC's Learning in Future Environments (LiFE) index.

Pending a review of the structures in place to support sustainability (due in early 2019) our 2013-17 SSR Strategy document remains the structure around which operational efforts to promote sustainability are framed.


Over the years, we have introduced a series of sustainability and social responsibility policies and statements. These cover core environmental concerns such as Energy, Water, Waste, Travel and Buildings, as well as issues such as Fairtrade, Food, Curriculum and Investment.

All our institutional policies are available via our Policy Zone.

For the most up-to-date sustainability themed policies just enter 'sustain' or 'carbon' as a search term.


The Advisory Group on Sustainability and Social Responsibility is the forum where sustainability issues are discussed and monitored. It includes representatives from across the University community.

Advisory Group Remit

The Advisory Group on Sustainability and Social Responsibility (AGSSR) has responsibility for overseeing the development of policies and strategies in this area and for monitoring their implementation.

It was initially established in 2007 with a predominantly environmental remit, but has evolved to reflect a broader agenda. It led on the development of our first Sustainability & Social Responsibility Strategy and seeks to adopt a whole-institution approach to its work.

The AGSSR usually meets 3 to 4 times per year and is chaired by a senior member of the University management team.


The AGSSR includes academics, administrators and students from across the University, with representatives from Estates, Finance, Human Resources, Campus Services, IT, Communications, Planning, the Trades Unions, and academics.

Over the years, the student voice has been particularly strong. We've welcomed AUSA's Student President and Communities Officers (formerly Ethics and Environment Officers). We've also had input from SA staff involved in student-facing sustainability initiatives (including various projects funded by the Climate Challenge Fund).

Administrative support is currently provided by a Policy Adviser in the Estates directorate.

Sustainability Reporting

In 2015, Public Bodies in Scotland were invited to submit (voluntarily) a sustainability report as part of a new obligation under statutory Public Bodies Climate Change Duties. In 2016 that exercise became compulsory.

Details of that exercise and all public body reports are available via the Sustainable Scotland Network (SSN) reporting page. Our most recent reports as part of this exercise are available below and via SSN online:

These reports provide detailed inventories and full information relating to our efforts to reduce emissions.

Prior to this new reporting regime, the Scottish sector had developed a voluntary annual reporting mechanism that introduced a consistent sustainability reporting framework for further and higher education. The resultant reports formed our annual return as part of the sector-wide Universities & Colleges Climate Commitment for Scotland (UCCCfS).

Details of function specific reports on Waste, Energy and Transport are available in the 'around ampus' section.

Alongside these functional reports, our former Environment Office produced prototype Environment Reports in 2009/10 and 2010/11.

Able Campaign

The Able campaign is a vibrant campus presence that aims to engage staff and students, and to raise awareness about the day to day issues that impact on our environment.

Able: to do your bit

The 'able' campaign is a campus wide, visible presence that has been designed to support institutional efforts to reduce our environmental impact and carbon footprint, and to help transform policy into action and engagement.

It aims to engage staff and students at the University by raisin awareness about the day to day issues that impact on our environment.

The campaign aims to share simple steps, memorable messages and eye-catching materials that individuals can use or act upon to improve the environmental performance of the University. Campaign materials, notice boards, posters and more are distributed across campus:

  • on posters, banners, notice boards and other campaign resources e.g. 'switch off-able' stickers
  • information stands at students fairs and as part of open days
  • the University's sustainability webpages
  • promotional items e.g. recycling bags in student accommodation and reusable shopping bags.
Contact Us

The University has a small but dedicated group of staff, each leading on different aspects of the sustainability and social responsibility agenda.

Policy and Strategy

Fraser Lovie clerks the Advisory Group and encourages operational, strategic and academic input to the full-range of sustainability issues.

Tel: 01224 273165


Chris Osbeck is the University's Transport & Waste Manager. His role includes the development of initiatives to alter staff and student travel habits towards sustainable alternatives such as walking, cycling and using public transport.

Tel: 01224 272254


Jane Boyle is the University's Energy Manager and has a remit that includes the sourcing of energy, how it is supplied, how much is used, and what carbon dioxide is emitted as a result. Jane also manages the supply and use of water. The wider Energy Management team consists of staff with responsibility for implementing energy and water saving measures and increasing staff and student awareness of these.

Tel: 01224 273266


Chris Osbeck is the University's Transport and Waste Manager. Chris is responsible for co-ordinating the collection of all types of waste from the University as well as implementing new initiatives to minimise waste, increase reuse, and to recycle more.

Tel: 01224 272254


For enquiries or information on the following issues please see the email address or web pages below:

  • Equality & Diversity
  • Health, Safety & Wellbeing
  • Healthy Working Lives
  • Procurement
  • Biodiversity Centre
  • Environment and Ethics
  • UCU Forum

If you have any questions about specific sustainability initiatives at the University of Aberdeen, please contact

Social Media

Follow us on social media at:

News Archive

Find below a selection of the many institutional news stories on sustainability and social responsibility issues: