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Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Environmental Sustainability

Course Overview

Since 1990, the world has lost 178 million hectares of forest. As an estimated 45% of carbon on land is stored in trees and soil, this loss has a serious effect on the Earth’s atmosphere. It is more important than ever that everyone has a greater understanding of how they can take sustainable steps to protect the planet.

This course will provide an overview of the principles of sustainable development, communities and energy management, and the social responsibility of businesses in relation to sustainability. Learners will also look at the principles of waste management and sustainable transport and applying sustainability in their own setting through zero waste.

This course is equivalent to a level 5 in Scotland based on the Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework.

Learn more about the growing demand for Green Skills

Learn more about how we can achieve net-zero by 2050

Key Information

Course Length
8 to 12 weeks

Course Level
Level 2

Awarding Body
(E-certificates upon achievement)

Learning Method(s)
Online materials
Online assessment

For Individuals


  • Study from anywhere, at any time
  • Gain an accredited level 2 qualification
  • Equivalent to a Scottish level 5 based on the Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework
  • Nationally recognised
  • Access to an award-winning e-learning platform
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Unlimited support from qualified tutors
  • Receive a digital e-certificate upon completion
  • No hidden costs

Cost and Funding Information

Funded Course

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This course is split into six manageable units, with a seventh optional unit available:

Unit 1: Principles of sustainable development

In this unit learners will cover:

  • The definition of sustainable development
  • Human and global issues that impact sustainability
  • Common objections to sustainable development
  • Benefits of sustainable development and environmental management systems
  • The impact that organisations and the environment can have on each other
  • How a carbon footprint is calculated
  • How to manage carbon footprint in an organisation
  • How to reduce carbon footprint in an organisation and at home
  • What ‘resource efficiency’ means
  • Benefits of using resources efficiently
  • Circular sustainability
  • Consequences of organisations polluting the environment
  • How organisations help prevent pollution
  • How management structure can support environmental sustainability
  • How employees can help support environmental sustainability

Unit 2: Principles of sustainable communities

In this unit learners will cover:

  • The definition of ‘sustainable community’
  • What is required for a community to be sustainable
  • The local and global benefits of a sustainable community
  • Resources that can be used to support community development proposals
  • Sources of support for implementing sustainable development in a community
  • Engaging with sources of support for development proposals

Unit 3: Principles of sustainable energy management

In this unit learners will cover:

  • The definition of sustainable energy management
  • Legislation and international agreements relating to sustainable energy management
  • Energy conservation techniques
  • The contribution of renewable energy sources to sustainable energy management
  • How energy saving can be monitored
  • How to manage energy usage
  • How to set targets for energy saving

Unit 4: Social responsibility of businesses in relation to sustainability

In this unit learners will cover:

  • What is meant by Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
  • The importance of social responsibility in businesses for sustainability
  • Why businesses might take action to improve social responsibility
  • The Triple Bottom Line (TBL)
  • How the TBL can impact sustainability
  • Greenwashing
  • The impacts of greenwashing on society
  • The implications of greenwashing on organisations

Unit 5: Principles of waste management

In this unit learners will cover:

  • Types of waste
  • Characteristics of different types of waste
  • Factors which influence the quantity of waste produced by an organisation
  • Legislation relevant to waste management
  • Public and private sector organisations that have a role in waste management
  • The need to manage and minimise waste
  • How waste can be used
  • How waste management can be promoted
  • Methods for disposal of reusable or recyclable waste
  • Methods for disposal of waste that is not reusable or recyclable
  • How to dispose of waste safely

Unit 6: Principles of sustainable transport

In this unit learners will cover:

  • What sustainable transport means
  • Sustainable transport methods
  • The importance of reducing transport vehicles
  • Vehicle fuels not derived from petroleum
  • Factors to consider when assessing alternative fuels as sustainable options
  • Economic, environmental and social aspects of sustainable fuels
  • Economic, environmental and social benefits of reducing the use of vehicles
  • Ways organisations use and interact with transport systems
  • Impact of transport on the environment
  • How organisations can incentivise staff to reduce transport use
  • Incentives that can be offered to the public and transport providers to reduce vehicle use
  • Schemes to penalise vehicle use
  • Barriers that may inhibit the public from reducing vehicle use
  • Types of leisure travel
  • Sustainable options for leisure travel
  • Carbon dioxide emissions of different transport types
  • The impact of carbon dioxide emissions of different transport types
  • Methods to promote more sustainable transport.

Unit 7: Sustainability applied in own setting (optional)

In this unit learners will cover:

  • The purpose of carbon audits
  • Carrying out a carbon audit in own setting
  • Planning sustainability improvements based on the carbon audit
  • What is meant by ‘zero waste’
  • Evaluating a zero waste approach in own setting and creating an action plan
  • How to address sustainability issues in own setting
  • Sources of support when addressing sustainability issues
  • Impacts on sustainability when working from home compared to working in a workplace
  • Energy efficiency and transportation audit
  • Challenges that may be faced when addressing sustainability issues in own setting