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Innovation Building finished

Innovation Building

Most work has been completed on the new Innovation Building on Old Road Campus (ORC), formerly known as the Amenities Building or Building 696, and its users are now completing the fit-out after it was handed over to them in August. The building includes a staff car park, the BioEscalator innovation and research commercialisation centre and space for Danish healthcare company Novo Nordisk, which last year entered into a £115m collaboration with the University to create a dedicated diabetes research centre.

Known as the Novo Nordisk Research Centre Oxford (NNRCO), this was inaugurated at an opening event in September that was attended by luminaries including Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark and Danish Education and Research Minister, Tommy Ahlers. Novo Nordisk is a world-leading developer of diabetes therapies; its scientists will work alongside Oxford researchers to find new treatments for Type 2 diabetes, which affects millions of people in the UK alone. It has now vacated its temporary accommodation in the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics to move into its long-term home.

The Innovation Building car park is now in use, under the management of the Facilities Management team, and is expected to reduce traffic around the campus and create a more pedestrian-friendly environment – most other parking spaces on ORC have been removed. The University is in discussion with several companies interested in leasing space in the BioEscalator.

New homes created at Overford Farm

The project to repurpose previously disused farm buildings at Overford Farm in the village of Wytham has been completed, resulting in the creation of four new market-ready properties. Two of the new houses have four bedrooms and the other two have three. The Residential Lettings team will manage all four properties, which are being let to private tenants. They are comfortable, high-quality dwellings featuring generous gardens that have been landscaped by the University Parks team and will be regularly maintained by them.

Wytham anniversary year draws to a triumphant close


The year-long celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the bequest of Wytham Woods to the University came to an end in early September with a final event designed to engage the public with the Woods and the world-class science that goes on there.

A finale event featured print making, pottery, tractor rides and other activities aimed at the general public. There was even a performance of a piece of music composed especially for the occasion by Professor Eric Clarke of the Faculty of Music with fellow musicians Bruno Guastalla, Melissa Holding and Julian Masters. The piece came about after the four spent a July weekend in the Woods, making music and recording the sounds of the forest at places including the Chalet, Rough Common, the Singing Way and the area around Wytham’s oldest tree. The sequence of musical performances, featuring three guest musicians and the poet Joe Butler, was played in the Sawmill yard the evening after the closing event as part of a fascinating mix of free improvisation, original compositions, field recordings and more.

Also launched at the closing event was the latest entry in the Woods team’s ‘Laboratory with Leaves’ series of videos, focusing on 75 years of science in the Woods. This debut screening was followed by a full launch event later in October – this took place in the Maths Institute and included a Q&A session on some of the research projects described in the film.

University wins BIFM environmental award

The University of Oxford has won another prestigious award for its outstanding environmental performance.  In mid-October it was named as winner of the ‘Impact on the Environment’ category in the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) Awards, on account of its £14.6m Carbon Management Programme.

Established in 2011 and managed by the Environmental Sustainability team, the programme has already reduced annual CO2 emissions by more than 5,800 tonnes and cut energy costs by nearly £1.4m a year. The award recognises work done all over the University to reduce its environmental impact, including actions taken under the Green Impact scheme, in which staff and students team up to make the buildings they work in greener. Entering the awards was a joint initiative between the Environmental Sustainability and Facilities Management teams.

The Carbon Management Programme had already won two Building Performance Awards from the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers for the University earlier in 2018. The University has also been shortlisted for a 2018 Green Gown award in the ‘Tomorrow’s Employees’ category, which aims to recognise the university that is most innovative and forward-thinking in ensuring its students are well-equipped to tackle the sustainability challenges of the future. The results will be announced at a ceremony on 8 November.

University gains Fairtrade University and College Award


Oxford is now a Fairtrade University after securing accreditation under the recently-launched Fairtrade University and College Award Scheme. The Fairtrade Foundation announced the result in June. It marks a step forward in ensuring the people who produce the University’s food and drink get a fair cut of the proceeds. It also sets the University challenging goals that will take several years to achieve.

All the departmental cafes and other sites that operate under the central catering contract with Compass participated, as did six colleges. All have committed to sell and promote Fairtrade food. People from teams all over the University including Environmental Sustainability, Facilities Management and Purchasing helped gain the accreditation, working alongside colleges and the Student Union. As the accreditation work continues, more colleges and other parts of the University will be able to get involved. The University worked with 11 other higher education institutions to develop the new accreditation scheme.

Old Road Campus Research Building heating and cooling system restored to life

The heating and cooling system at the Old Road Campus Research Building, also known as the Green Building, is now working again after an operation to flush out iron sludge that was causing blockages.

Over summer the Building Services team was receiving complaints that the building was becoming unbearably hot as the cooling system was not working. Along with contractors they investigated and found that the water in it contained a lot of dissolved iron from corroding pipes, and that this was eventually dropping out of solution, blocking filters and damaging flexible connection hoses. More than 90% of the building’s heating/cooling units were running at less than half capacity, and many were not working at all. The team set about flushing out the system section by section to remove the iron deposits. The water also contained glycol anti-freeze, which is toxic and had to be pumped into a tanker and removed for safe disposal.

The project took several months, as engineers could only work in the evenings to avoid disturbing researchers and had to cover the building piecemeal so affected users could be temporarily moved. Regular communication between Building Services, contractors and users helped keep inconvenience to a minimum. The system is now working well, much to building users’ relief.

Industry accreditation for Print Studio

Print studio BPIF accreditation

The University Print Studio has been accredited by the British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF). The team, part of Facilities Management, were awarded all three of the Seals of Excellence that the BPIF bestows after a six-month assessment determined that they meet the required standard in the three relevant areas – environmental management, health & safety and HR. Expert auditors assessed whether the team was meeting each criterion with a combination of examining records, inspecting the workplace and interviewing staff. This is a major step forward for the Print Studio team and demonstrates their expertise both within the University and outside it. The accreditation will now be reviewed every two years. 

New security control room at Old Road Campus

The Security Services team will soon open a new control room at Old Road Campus, after recently taking ownership of space in the newly-completed Innovation Building.

While the Innovation Building was completed, the Security Services presence at Old Road was in a temporary structure; the new control room will greatly improve the service the team can provide to the campus, providing dedicated facilities for functions such as alarm monitoring, lone worker protection and CCTV surveillance. It is even designed to act as a backup for the main Security Services control room at the Old Observatory, enabling staff there to take over all monitoring duties across the estate if there is any problem at the primary control room. The room is being equipped over the autumn and is expected to be fully operational in January.

New ‘Building our Future’ website launched

The University’s new Building our Future web pages have gone live, with the primary aims of providing information about the estate to an external audience, putting it in context within the city of Oxford and promoting the many ways in which the University contributes to the lives of Oxford visitors and residents. The site also shows off the estate as a world-class teaching, learning and research environment, promotes the accessibility of our buildings and green spaces and publishes information about planning applications and consultations – for example, current plans to develop the Osney Power Station. 

Lighting schemes in running for industry awards

Two recent University lighting projects have been shortlisted in this year’s Lux Awards, which celebrate the lighting industry’s greatest achievements over the past year. The University itself is also in the running for the Client of the Year award in recognition of its commitment to innovation in lighting.Duke Humfrey's Library re-lit

Radcliffe Camera on Night of Heritage Light - copyright NOHL, SLL & Dan Patton The new lighting scheme for Duke Humfrey’s Library in the Bodleian, finished earlier this year, has been put forward for the Office, Education and Healthcare Lighting Project of the Year award. The scheme creates a more pleasant and functional environment for the library’s users while also showcasing its stunning architecture. Meanwhile the temporary lighting scheme that was installed around the outside of the Radcliffe Camera for the Night of Heritage Light in autumn 2017 is shortlisted for the ‘Outdoor Lighting Project of the Year’ award. This was intended to help inform discussions about whether the iconic building should be lit up for part of the night on a permanent basis. The winners will be announced at an event on 15 November.

Oriental Institute heating replacement finished

The project to replace the heating in the Oriental Institute to improve energy efficiency and user comfort has just been completed.

Phase 1 involved replacing the existing heating with conventional thermostatically-controlled radiators throughout the building, while it was occupied. This gives users more control over room temperatures, making the building far more pleasant to work in and reducing its tendency to heat up unpleasantly on one side due to solar gain. The team have also removed the building’s gas meter and boilers, instead connecting it to the local heat network to improve efficiency and reduce running costs. Users were impressed by the way the Building Services mechanical team and contractors handled the project – one wrote that ‘everyone has been amazed at the lack of disruption caused, and at how efficient and thoroughly pleasant the engineers are.’

Phase 2 of the project then involved replacing the library heating with high-level thermostatically-controlled heating panels. The team worked on phased sections of the library so that most of it remained usable throughout.

University Club refurbished

Oxford University Club Food

Oxford University Club - Event The University Club has been renovated to improve the layout and appearance of the ground floor. The café and bar have been refurbished to provide a more pleasant environment for guests. The small function room on the lower ground floor beneath has also been revamped, as have the Club’s 14 bedrooms after these were used for research following the closure of the Tinbergen Building; these can once again be booked on the Club’s website. The work was funded by the University’s main catering contractor Compass, and its completion was marked by a celebration in September.

Woods team launches ash dieback app

A newly-launched app developed by the Wytham Woods team lets visitors report sightings of ash dieback to help scientists understand how the lethal tree disease is spreading through the area. The Apple version launched in September and an Android equivalent is expected before long.

The researchers will combine the data they gather from the app with information from other sources, such as drone footage and satellite imagery, to build up a comprehensive picture of how the disease is moving across the landscape. Ash dieback will ultimately have an enormous effect on the landscape of the Woods, a significant part of whose canopy consists of ash trees.

Ginkgo Gate relocation commended by Oxford Preservation Trust

Ginkgo Gates Finished

The project to create a new entrance to the University Parks by moving the Ginkgo Gates to a new location has been commended in the 2018 Oxford Preservation Trust awards.

The project was a collaboration between the University Parks and Conservation & Buildings teams, and was carried out in late 2017 and early 2018. The Trust, whose mission is to conserve the historic built environment of the city and its surroundings, noted that the relocation was done in a way that ‘allowed them to integrate fully into the existing railings and create a new and interesting entrance to the University Parks.’ It also praised the new planting scheme that is now becoming established around the gates, created by the Parks team.

The gates were designed and made by artist blacksmith Terrence Clark in 2007 and originally stood outside the Clarendon Laboratories before being removed ahead of the construction of the Physics department’s new Beecroft Building. They are known as the Ginkgo Gates because their wrought iron posts are topped with finials shaped like ginkgo leaves.

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