15 November 2016

Carbon Reduction Programme scoops Green Gown Award

The University of Oxford has performed strongly in the Green Gown Awards for environmental performance in higher education, winning one category and being highly commended in another.

Both prize-winning initiatives are run by the Environmental Sustainability team within Estates Services, several of whom attended the awards event in Leicester on 10 November.

‘The University is committed to carbon reduction but implementing projects to achieve it takes determination, persistence and collaboration,’ said Harriet Waters, Head of Environmental Sustainability. ‘I’m delighted to see the effort taken by so many different stakeholders led by the Environmental Sustainability team being rewarded by the Green Gowns.’

Green Gown Awards 2016 - Team

The University’s £14.6m Carbon Reduction Programme – a ground-breaking initiative through which it aims to meet its challenging target of reducing its carbon emissions by 33% by 2020 versus a 2005 baseline – won the Carbon Reduction category.

Since the programme was set up in 2011, the University has already saved more than 4,767 tonnes of carbon and £1.1m in annual energy costs. It has completed more than 180 projects, ranging from installing solar panels to upgrading lighting and insulating roofs. Many more projects are now in the pipeline, and the University is on track to achieve 41% of its carbon-reduction target by the end of 2017.

Meanwhile Low Carbon Oxford Week (LCOW), an annual series of pop-up public-engagement events that the University runs in partnership with Oxford Brookes University and Oxford City Council, was highly commended for the Community award. In 2015 LCOW attracted 40,000 people and reached more than 18,500 with a special supplement in the Oxford Times. 

'Winning a Green Gown award for 2016 is a great achievement for Oxford,’ said Professor William James, the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Planning & Resources. 'The commitment, passion and professionalism of our staff and students in promoting environmental sustainability matches their achievements in research and education, and it's great to see this properly recognized.'

The Green Gown Awards are intended to celebrate the higher education sector’s achievements in cutting its impact on the environment. Overall this year there were 21 winners and 26 highly commended entrants from 115 finalists, representing a total of 1.5 million students and 24,000 staff. 390 leaders in sustainability across the sector attended the awards presentation.