We recognise the impact that our operations and activities can have on the environment and are committed to reducing these impacts by setting and achieving clearly defined objectives, and developing frameworks to achieve continual improvement.
Over the years much work has been undertaken to improve environmental sustainability at the School and through our collaboration with the City of London Corporation’s Energy team we are delighted to have recently been awarded £2.6 million to upgrade our lighting, heating, ventilation and controls through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.
Our operations and activity are covered by our recently reviewed Environmental Sustainability Policy which is supported by a number of other policies and strategies including the recently created Education for Sustainable Development Strategy Statement and Staff and Student Engagement Strategy. Additionally, we have also written a new Carbon Management Plan for the School to take us to Net-Zero on our Scope 1 & 2 carbon emissions by 2027 and by 2040 on our Scope 3 emissions.
We’ve also devised a new Education for Sustainable Development Strategy, implemented from autumn 2021. Our approach is to consider the environmental, social and economic impacts that students will have in their working lives. Many of our students will go on to be professional musicians and actors, with associated impacts such as travel. Production Arts graduates will be the stage managers and production managers of the future, where they will have the opportunity to effect positive environmental and social impact in areas such as event planning, procurement, use of resources, disposal of waste and the potential for the use of hazardous substances. We already deploy Green Captains – student production managers whose role is to ensure a sustainable production.
Our current environmental strategies and policies are written in line with the current legislative framework, best practice and with close reference to the City of London’s relevant strategies such as Climate Action and Responsible Business to ensure alignment with City of London Corporation aims and objectives. We maintain close links with the relevant City of London teams to ensure our voice is heard and our strategies are aligned.
The School’s strategy and associated action plan is overseen, developed, coordinated and communicated by the Sustainability Steering Group which, under our alliance, is made up of members of staff from both Guildhall School and the Barbican Centre and includes representation from the School’s student body. In 2019, due to an increasing appetite from students and staff to be more involved we set up an additional more informal group to enable further consultation.
*Guildhall School is ranked top independent conservatoire, other conservatoires are featured in the league table as part of larger institutions
Sustainability Steering Group
The Sustainability Steering Group is a forum for dealing with sustainability and environmental concerns at Guildhall School. It includes staff, student and senior management representation and recommends actions to Operations Board and/or Senior Management Team as appropriate. Working within the City of London’s Sustainability Policy and in liaison with similar groups at the Barbican Centre, the group will develop the sustainability strategy for Guildhall School by which it will endeavour to improve the School’s practices.
Find out more about the Steering Group below.
The specific Terms of Reference of the Sustainability Steering Group are:
- To develop and maintain School-wide policies through which to improve the sustainability of the School
- To provide a channel for ideas from all staff and students
- To prioritise actions and recommend solutions to Operations Board and/or Senior Management Team as appropriate
- To raise awareness of sustainability issues amongst students and staff and act on feedback to implement suggested initiatives.
- To identify and promote good practice within the School
- To monitor the implementation of actions through collection of data (e.g. electricity usage, waste production)
- To communicate outcomes of actions to students and staff
- To be responsible for coordinating a response to the Green League
- To annually review the Travel Plan
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In light of the success of the Sustainability Steering Group and the increasing appetite by both staff and students to become ever more involved in sustainability we have, in 2019, introduced a new informal sustainability group open to all staff and students. This group’s main purpose is to ensure effective communication of sustainability policy and strategy throughout teams and the student body, to capture local initiatives and to feed back suggestions to the Sustainability Steering Group. This group meets once per term and has the opportunity to input into strategy development.
Students' Union and sustainability
Sustainability is an important part of the work done by the Students’ Union (SU) at Guildhall School. The SU President and the Vice-President (Welfare) take the lead on sustainability within the Union, and both also sit on the School’s Sustainability Steering Group.
Find out more about student involvement in sustainability.
Students can get involved by joining the Environment Society, which meets to discuss how it can promote good practice in promoting environmentally friendly activity from students and staff alike. The group has worked on encouraging recycling by clarifying which bins can be used for which kind of waste, as well as trying to reduce paper waste by helping students use the School’s printers efficiently and effectively.
Over the last three years the School’s facilities team have been working, in consultation with the students to refurbish the roof-top allotment area to improve walkways and access. We have also installed new water butts to make use of rainwater harvesting for watering plants. Our ambition for the future is to create additional low level allotment plots by using recycled pallets to increase the opportunity for students to be involved. The allotments are a vibrant space containing fruit, flowers and vegetables grown by students and staff. The School has provided the space and maintains this whilst the students have raised money which was invested in small equipment and sundries.
In 2022, in our effort to decrease single use plastics, the Student Union Bar is trailing a new deposit scheme on its polycarbonate glassware to encourage return of reusable glassware and also acts in the interests of student safety by encouraging drinks not to be left unattended.
In consultation with the students and as a result of our recent student commuter survey we have installed new covered bicycle racks and made available a toolkit in order that students can undertake basic maintenance.
Also, in previous years Students' Union arranged to collect any unwanted clothes and equipment from students moving out of Sundial Court at the end of the year. These items were then distributed to students during Fresher’s Week with any left-over items given to charity. We were unable to carry out this activity in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID restrictions but plan to continue once circumstances allow.
Other recent projects have included work done on the School’s flower beds on the Lakeside terrace. The SU worked alongside the School’s Facilities department to raise money and awareness for our rooftop allotments, which are tended to jointly by staff, students, Barbican staff and members of the London Symphony Orchestra. We held our first ever Gardening Fair, during which staff and students came together to raise money for the allotments, making fresh smoothies and selling chutney made from chillies grown in one of the students’ allotments (which proved too spicy for some!). The money raised was invested in ladders, plant food and compost for use by the allotment holders.
Meet the Team
Read about the team leading on sustainability at Guildhall School.
Jonathon Poyner, Director of Operations and Buildings
Jonathon is a member of the School’s Senior Team and Environmental Sustainability features in his portfolio of responsibilities.
Charlotte Lythgoe, Continual Improvement Manager - Sustainability
Charlotte is the current Chair of the Sustainability Steering Group and is responsible for reviewing, developing and consulting on, the School’s environmental sustainability strategies and policies.
Cornell Farrell, Property Facilities Manager
Cornell oversees the engineering team and is responsible for buildings infrastructure; this includes energy and water management.
Ben Ripley, Contract Facilities Manager
Ben oversees facilities contracts and is responsible for waste management.
Guildhall School is owned, funded and governed by the City of London Corporation. We are a department of the City of London and not a legal organisation in our own right. All staff working at Guildhall School are employees of the City of London. We therefore comply with all overarching City policies relating to Sustainability, share their staff and resources, and input into their developments. Guildhall School is also situated immediately adjacent to the Barbican Centre, also owned by the City of London and with which we have some shared services such as IT, Engineering, Finance and HR.
City of London sustainability information that is particularly relevant to the Guildhall School includes:
- Biodiversity web pages including Biodiversity Action Plan and Biodiversity Public Consultation
Living Wage Policy Statement – The City of London is accredited as a living wage employer by the Living Wage Foundation
- Modern Slavery Statement
Further details are available on the City of London Corporation's website
In addition to all the above policies, Guildhall School has developed several policies and strategies of its own, where it is considered that an approach more specific to the HE sector is of benefit.
See our Knowledge Exchange webpage for details of community engagement activity.