13 June 2017

Sustainability Showcase salutes University’s green progress

The University of Oxford celebrated its sustainability stars at a prestigious awards event on 12 June.

The Sustainability Showcase recognises the work of staff and students over the last year under various schemes aimed at reducing the University’s environmental impact.

These included Student Switch Off, an awareness-raising initiative in which the University’s students once again had the best engagement figures in the country, and the Green Impact scheme aimed at empowering people to make their workplaces more sustainable.

Sustainability Showcase event in Divinity Schools.

Held at the Sheldonian Theatre and then the Bodleian Library’s Divinity School, the Showcase drew more than 150 people from across the University. Professor William James, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Planning and Resources and Jack Hampton, President of Oxford University Student’s Union, hosted the evening after a welcome from Paul Goffin, Director of Estates.

There were awards for the work of the nearly 300 people in 33 Green Impact teams across the University. They have taken more than 1,500 actions aimed at cutting the environmental impact of their departments, labs and colleges. Around 40 awards were given out, including three special ones to reward innovation and exceptional efforts by students and staff.

Gold prizes went to ten buildings and departments, with the team from the Department of Chemistry singled out for special praise for its Excellence Project, in which team members made a film to promote lab efficiency to staff. Ten more teams received silver awards, and 12 bronze. Finally, five teams that have taken their first steps in Green Impact received ‘Working Towards’ awards.

There were also prizes for the top performing colleges in the 2016-17 Student Switch Off competition, in which 3,245 of Oxford’s students took part, with 81 receiving training as ambassadors for the campaign.

The colleges whose students did most to raise awareness of environmental issues received money for an end-of-year event – Lady Margaret Hall, which achieved platinum level in six of the seven measures of engagement, won the top prize and £250, while St Cross, which did the most to raise awareness of recycling and re-use, won £150 towards future sustainability work. Christ Church, Mansfield and St John’s were all highly commended, receiving £100 each.

Finally, engraved glasses went to the teams behind four successful projects under the University’s Carbon Innovation Programme. These projects were announced earlier in 2017 and are now being taken forward for possible implementation. They include installing biomass power at the headquarters of the Oxford Wildlife Conservation Research Unit and replacing the van that takes books between the Bodleian Libraries and the Swindon book depository with an electric model.

All three programmes recognised during the evening are run by the Environmental Sustainability team within Estates Services.