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Changes to Science Transit Shuttle as service enters third yearTransit Shuttle

The third and final year of the Science Transit Shuttle pilot starts in July 2018 after funding was confirmed. Meanwhile at the end of May, improvements were made to the Shuttle to offer customers a better service within the available budget.

There are now more buses at peak times on the ST1 route for those commuting and travelling between Oxford and Harwell Campus. Meanwhile the ST2 route has been extended from Old Road Campus to the JR Hospital. The new ST3 route is an hourly service that overlaps the ST2 service route and then continues on to Wytham. This means that the Shuttle now provides a half-hourly service linking JR Hospital, Old Road Campus and the Science Area, with an onward connection to the rail station and Wytham every hour. Fares remain the same and tickets bought before the changes are still valid.

The Travel team within Environmental Sustainability continue to monitor usage patterns and passenger numbers to determine in what form the service can carry on once the pilot ends. This means it is vital that those who value the service should use it in the coming months; the more people travel on the shuttle, the more secure its long-term future is likely to be. The team are also preparing to introduce e-ticketing, which will make it easier to travel.

The service is funded by the Science Technologies Facilities Council, Green Travel Fund, Medical Sciences Division and Mathematical Physical and Life Sciences Division, as well as from income generated from service users.

Sustainability Showcase celebrates another year's strong environmental progressSustainability showcase

The University held its fifth Sustainability Showcase on 14 June, with staff and students from across the University gathering in the Museum of Natural History to recognise the contributions they have made over the last year towards making the University’s operations more sustainable.

The evening’s main focus was the Environmental Sustainability team's two flagship engagement programmes - Student Switch Off, an awareness-raising initiative in which the University’s students once again achieved the best engagement figures in the country, and the Green Impact scheme aimed at empowering people to make their workplaces more sustainable. 

Hosted by Dr David Prout, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Planning and Resources, the Showcase attracted around 200 people from all over the University, with just under sixty awards presented. In this year’s Green Impact scheme gold prizes went to nine recipients, with the Saïd Business School (pictured) and Queen’s College putting in particularly impressive performances by achieving at the highest level in their first year. Six more teams got silver awards, four bronze, and one team took their first steps in Green Impact and were recognised with a ‘Working Towards’ award.

There were also prizes for the top-performing colleges in the 2017-18 Student Switch Off competition, in which 3,310 Oxford students took part, with 84 receiving training as ambassadors for the campaign. Oriel took the overall prize for the college whose students did most to raise awareness of environmental, receiving £250 for an end-of-year event. It is the first college to win the overall price twice. Brasenose, which did the most to raise awareness of recycling and re-use facilities, won £150 to put towards future sustainability work.

Mobile mechanic service now available to students

In response to strong demand, the Environmental Sustainability has created a Bike Doctor mobile bike mechanic service for students, working alongside Oxford SU and Security Services. Several sessions for students have already taken place in Trinity term, with one outside the Radcliffe Camera proving especially popular – around 60 students brought their bikes along, of which around a quarter needed repairs. Labour on all repairs is free, though the students have to pay for any parts used. The service has been running for staff for some time and has proved very popular; the team now hopes that it will aid safer cycling by making it cheaper and easier for students to keep their bikes in good working order. For more information, see the Oxford SU website or Facebook page.

University seeks Fairtrade status

The University has applied for accreditation under the Fairtrade Colleges and Universities Award scheme that it helped create alongside 11 other higher education institutions and the National Union of Students. The results are expected later in June. The new scheme is intended to offer the benefits of fair trade accreditation in terms of offering a better deal to small producers in the developing world, while being relevant across as much of the higher education sector as possible. A recent survey of staff and students, carried out earlier in 2018 to gather information to support the application for Fairtrade status, attracted more than 400 responses. 81% said they would like to see a greater variety of Fairtrade goods, food and drink across the University and 90% agreed that it is important for Oxford to work towards the Fairtrade University Award.

Oxford performs strongly in UniCycle Challenge

The UniCycle Challenge cycling competition ended in late March, and the University led the way, claiming top spot among all the higher education institutions that took part.

The staff of the University as a whole came first among teams of staff and students from eight institutions, with nearly 200 staff riding more than 11,000 miles in March. The Environmental Sustainability team led the initiative in Oxford.

The challenge aims to encourage staff and students to get on their bikes and discover the joys of cycling. Participants earn points by logging their journeys by bike and by encouraging others to get involved. Overall, participants in the UniCycle Challenge across the UK have logged around 10,000 trips covering more than 62,000 miles over the same period – enough to go more than twice round the equator.

Get ready for Oxford Green Week

Oxford Green Week is a city-wide summer festival which uses culture, creativity and community to inspire local people to take action against climate change. Coordinated by Oxford City Council in partnership with several other organisations including the University’s Environmental Sustainability team, the event lasts from 16-24 June. It celebrates all things sustainable and aims to show people all around Oxford how taking simple steps can enable them to save money, improve their health and be kinder to the environment. Many events are planned across the city, from foodie events to tours, talks, swap shops and debates. The Environmental Sustainability team, meanwhile, is helping organise a University Parks Discovery Trail to encourage families to get out and explore the huge range of living things in the Parks – part of the Oxford Green Week Big Green Treasure Hunt. To find out more, visit the Oxford Green Week website.

Incredible Edible update

Incredible Edible plots are springing up all over town, with the planter that was installed over the winter at the Malthouse now hosting a fine crop of onions and garlic and other locations, including the Osney One building, working towards setting up their own growing areas. The plots are intended to give staff and students around the estate the opportunity to enjoy growing and eating their own fruit and vegetables. Anyone can add plants or pick ripe produce. The first was in the Science Area, in front of the Earth Sciences building and behind the Dyson Perrins building.

How to get rid of unwanted equipment

Departments that have equipment that neither they nor any other part of the University want can use the UniGreen Scheme to get rid of it, and perhaps raise extra cash in the process.

The service will collect even large and heavy items for free and then try to sell them to other universities. If they succeed, the department the items came from gets a share of the proceeds.

At the moment departments are using UniGreen to dispose of items including a large old lathe and a forklift truck. It is particularly well-suited for big, specialised pieces of equipment that are unlikely to be of interest to other parts of the University. Those interested should contact Michael McLeod at the UniGreen Scheme.

Before using UniGreen though, please first try WARPit, the equipment-sharing platform that lets departments exchange unwanted office furniture, equipment and other resources. So far WARPit has kept more than 220,000kg of waste out of landfill and saved the University more than £186,000; more than 860 people across the University have signed up.

Oxford Swift City project seeks volunteers 

The Oxford Swift City project, led by the RSPB and supported by the University, is looking for volunteers to record the swifts living near them. This will help gather data that may help scientists understand the recent declines in swift populations, and perhaps even reverse them. Anyone who is interested in the possibility of volunteering should start by visiting the project’s website to find out more about what will be involved.

Sustainable buildings work earns Oxford an ISCN nomination

The University has been nominated for two of the 2018 International Sustainable Campus Network awards. The nominations recognise its work implementing the Passivhaus standard to reduce the environmental impact of new buildings, and its collaboration with students to carry out research on sustainability-related questions. The results will be announced in mid-June. 

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