Environmental sustainability

NERC is committed to ensuring we conduct our science in a sustainable manner; from how we operate our buildings, ships and aircraft to how we award research grants and work with the higher education sector.

Sustainability to NERC focuses on improving performance across our triple bottom line 'people, planet and prosperity'.

The focus for this page is how we are improving our environmental (planet) performance.

Separate systems are in place to measure and drive improvement against our social (people) and economic (prosperity) sustainability commitments.

NERC's environmental performance is monitored by the NERC Sustainability Team and managed at centre / national capability level by the Environmental Professionals Group (EPG). EPG implements initiatives across the NERC to minimise environmental impact and lower carbon emissions.


Details of NERC's environmental and energy policies can be found on the NERC policies page. A new NERC sustainability strategy is also under development.

Targets and objectives

New targets for 2014-15 to 2019-20 were agreed in December 2015 and finalised in March 2016. Progress towards them is reviewed regularly via the Corporate Responsibility Dashboard.

NERC sets environmental objectives and targets on the following:

Legal compliance and achievement of standards

  1. Avoiding legal breaches.
  2. Gaining accreditation to recognised Environmental Management Standards.
  3. Retaining Carbon Trust Standard accreditation.

Environmental monitoring and reporting

  1. Publishing details of our environmental performance.
  2. Benchmarking our performance.

Carbon reduction and utility management

  1. Establishing carbon management plans.
  2. Running energy awareness campaigns.
  3. Running environmental awareness campaigns.

Sustainable procurement

  1. Engaging suppliers on sustainable procurement in conjunction with UK Shared Business Services.
  2. Establishing a Sustainable Procurement Working Group.
  3. Informing staff on progress with sustainable procurement.
  4. Increasing staff awareness on sustainable procurement.

Travel and transport

  1. Establishing a corporate environmental travel policy.
  2. Measuring the carbon footprint associated with travel.
  3. Promoting video conferencing.

Waste and fridge gas (F-Gas) management

  1. Recording amounts of waste generated.
  2. Reporting greenhouse gases / ozone depletion potential from refrigeration.
  3. Managing an F-Gas phase out plan across NERC owned estates and major assets.

Sustainable buildings and construction

  1. Achieving 'excellent' BREEAM ratings for new builds.

Environmental training and awareness

  1. Inducting staff on environmental management.
  2. Implementing a communications plan.

Biodiversity and habitat management

  1. Promoting biodiversity.
  2. Implementing Biodiversity Action Plans where appropriate.

Emergency response

  1. Maintaining emergency plans that minimise environmental impacts.


Our Sustainability Report, on progress and achievements towards our sustainability targets, appears every year in NERC's Annual Report. The information is produced in accordance with HM Treasury's requirement for public sector annual sustainability reports.

The report includes environmental statistics on greenhouse gas emissions, waste minimisation and management, water consumption, biodiversity action planning and sustainable procurement across our sites, and as a result of work by our staff in the course of their duties including research operations.

Our brief case studies will tell you a bit more about some of our environmental achievements across NERC estates.