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All Estates Services teams now CSE accredited

Estates Services has at last reached its long-standing goal of securing accreditation under the Customer Service Excellence framework for the entire department.

Most individual teams within the department have been accredited for some time, and the last team – Asset and Space Management – has now reached this target. Estates Services is the first university estates department in the UK to achieve this accreditation for all its services.

This is the culmination of a journey that began in 2013, during which teams all over Estates Services have transformed their approach to dealing with customers. From now on all teams will periodically seek re-accreditation to ensure that high standards are maintained.

University wins top prize at CIBSE Building Performance AwardsCIBSE Award for Building Performance Award

The University has won two 2018 Building Performance Awards from the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE). The awards recognise engineering excellence in the built environment, focusing on measurably improving buildings’ environmental performance, and pitted the University against the finest buildings and projects in the UK – not just those within higher education.

The University’s Carbon Management Programme won in the Facilities Management Team category and was also overall Building Performance Champion – effectively being declared the most impressive of all the prize-winners – for its ‘outstanding contribution and commitment to achieving improved building performance, combined with significant, measurable reduction of energy consumption and carbon emissions.’ The judges also commented that the University is leading the way for the higher education sector, not only in the global rankings of universities, but in the management of its estate.CIBSE BPA 2018

The Carbon Management Programme is run by the Environmental Sustainability team within Estates Services, but many people all over the University have contributed to this achievement. They include members of Green Impact teams working to make their buildings more sustainable, participants in the Carbon Innovation Programme who have come up with innovative ideas to reduce carbon emissions and colleagues from Estates Services who have worked to put principles of sustainability into practice all over the University estate. For more details, visit the news item on the Estates Services website.

The Blavatnik School of Government, completed in 2015, was also shortlisted in the ‘Project of the Year – Public Use’ category.

Carbon emissions fall beneath baseline for the first time

The Environmental Sustainability team are celebrating a significant milestone in their efforts to cut the University’s carbon emissions – recent figures show that in 2015/16 these fell below the baseline against which it measures its carbon-reduction efforts for the first time.

The Carbon Management Programme, introduced in 2011, commits the University to cutting carbon emissions by a third relative to 2005/6 levels by the end of 2020/21. There is a long way to go before the overall target is achieved, but this nevertheless marks real progress. In fact, emissions peaked in 2009/10 and have been declining steadily since then, despite major growth in the University estate.

Estates Services Staff Awards honour outstanding work in 2017

In late January, staff from all over Estates Services attended a ceremony at the Sheldonian Theatre to recognise teams and individuals from all over the department for their exceptional contributions during 2017. Team awards were presented for work ranging from improving procedures around the health and safety of staff and contractors to devising and installing the new lighting scheme in the Examination Schools and close collaboration across many teams to deal with the aftermath of the Tinbergen building’s closure. Individual staff members, meanwhile, were recognised for everything from leading the University’s response to gas leaks to simply providing invaluable advice and guidance to colleagues in the department. Joining Director of Estates Paul Goffin to present the awards were Dr Nick Brown, Chair of the Buildings and Estates Sub-committee, and Dr Ralph Waller, Chair of the Curators of University Parks. 

Customer Survey shows strong progress across Estates Services

The 2017 Estates Services Customer Survey shows that the department continues to improve the service it offers to the wider University – 95% of those responding said they were either satisfied (36%) or very satisfied (59%), compared to 88% the previous year.

Several questions about how well the department exemplifies its core values also showed strong improvement. 58% of those who responded said they strongly agree that it exhibits timeliness in its work – a big step up from 37% in 2016.

Likewise, an impressive 99% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that Estates Services treats them fairly, and 92% that it demonstrates openness, clarity and transparency.

LMH lawn rescued from chafer grub infestation

 Lady Margaret Hall Before and After

University Parks gardeners were ready to help in the autumn when the lawn of Lady Margaret Hall (LMH) College suffered a damaging and unsightly infestation of chafer grubs.

They dug out, rotovated, raked flat, compacted, fertilised and finally re-seeded 1,200m2 of badly affected turf. The whole project took a total of 32 days’ work in early October, and favourable weather meant the newly-sown grass was soon growing very strongly. If all goes well the lawn will be well established by next summer. LMH has its own gardeners but decided to call on the Parks team because it is bigger and thus has the capacity to carry out such a large project quickly, and because it has access to specialist equipment suited to this kind of job. The Parks team have in regular contact to provide advice and ensure the young lawn continues to thrive. They will return in spring to re-seed any areas of thin growth.

This kind of work has been in demand lately; earlier in the autumn Parks staff re-turfed the main lawn in All Souls College after a chafer grub attack. The grubs feed on the roots of the grass, weakening and killing it; they are also irresistible to animals like birds, foxes and badgers, which tear up the turf to get to them.

Topping-out ceremony for diabetes research centre Bioescalator topping out

A ceremony in late 2017 marked the completion of the basic structure of the newest major addition to the University of Oxford estate, which will hold facilities for the commercialisation of University biotechnology research and an innovative collaborative research centre aimed at transforming diabetes treatments. 

The Novo Nordisk Research Centre is the result of a strategic alliance between the University and the Danish healthcare company, first announced in January 2017. The company is currently in temporary offices at the nearby Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, but 80-100 staff will move into the new building once it is finished, expected to be in mid-2018. They will work closely with academics to develop new approaches to diabetes care.

The building will also hold a car park and the BioEscalator, which will facilitate the commercialisation of the University’s biotechnology research. James Johnson, VP and site head at Novo Nordisk, joined Dr Elen Wade-Martins of the BioEscalator to tighten bolts on the building’s roof, marking the completion of its highest point.

Plaudits for Environmental Sustainability annual review

The Environmental Sustainability’s 2016 Annual Review was awarded Highly Commended status in the Environmental Reporting category of the annual Green Gown awards for excellence in sustainability within higher education. Since then, the team has taken a new approach to producing its annual review 2017, moving from a lengthy text-filled booklet to a two-page infographic intended to make it far easier to review the key developments over the year. The response has been enthusiastic, with users across the University praising the way the document simplified the subject-matter to make the most important information easy to pick out, but we will have to wait until next year to tell if the Green Gown judges share this enthusiasm. The infographic is available in poster or leaflet form; to order copies please email

Security Services gains CCTV certification

The Security Services team has reached its goal of being certified under the government’s CCTV Code of Practice, designed to regulate the use of CCTV systems and to reassure the public that they are used in a proportionate way to protect their safety, not to spy on them.

The team completed the first leg of the certification process in late 2017 after a full audit of documents and procedures relating to the University-wide CCTV system. This was followed by a site visit to the Control Room and further assessment this February, which revealed several areas of best practice in which Security Services already complies with – and in some areas exceeds – the requirements of the Code. The assessment process has involved a thorough review of the system itself and the policies, procedures and standards in place and operated by Security Services staff.

The team is one of only a handful of university security services in the UK to achieve certification. Compliance with the code is currently voluntary for higher education institutions, but the team believe it is possible that the requirements will be tightened up over time and that compliance may one day be mandatory for all system operators. If this happens, Security Services will be well-placed to advise other parts of the University that operate their own CCTV systems on how to go about gaining certification. In the meantime, the certification shows the team’s commitment to ensuring a safe and secure University estate while also improving customer satisfaction.

Wytham Woods rebrandsESN news image

Wytham Woods has launched a new logo to refresh its image as it celebrates 75 years under University control and prepares for the next 75 years of research and public engagement.
The logo, pictured here, is intended to convey the excellent science that has been going on in the Woods for decades as well as their sylvan beauty. At the same time, the Woods team have also created new visitor permits and maps for permit-holders, as well as revamping the signs that help visitors find their way around.

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Security Services gains CCTV accreditation