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Sustainability Showcase celebrates Oxford’s green progress

Sustainability Showcase 2018 - platinum award

The University held its fifth Sustainability Showcase in 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 had the best engagement figures in the country, and the Green Impact scheme aimed at empowering people to make their workplaces more sustainable.The Showcase attracted around 200 people from all over the University, with just under sixty awards presented. Dr David Prout, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Planning and Resources, hosted the evening after a welcome from Paul Goffin, Director of Estates.

Green Impact scheme launches

The Environmental Sustainability team have launched the 2018/19 Green Impact programme.

Green Impact aims to provide simple and effective ways for staff and students to make their department, building, lab or college more sustainable. Nearly 100 teams have registered since 2013. Last time around Green Impact teams carried out 519 actions to make their buildings greener. These ranged from creating a biodiversity garden to changing to a more eco-friendly kind of printer paper. This year the programme has been improved to include a far richer range of possible actions to make laboratories more sustainable.

The team are always keen to welcome new teams on board. For more information or to request a welcome pack, email 

Science Transit Shuttle launches e-ticketingScience Transit Shuttle Bus

The Science Transit Shuttle team has launched electronic ticketing, so users no longer need to buy paper tickets before making a journey. This makes the minibus service more convenient for users, who have responded enthusiastically – within a month, around 75% of journeys were made with electronic rather than paper tickets.

Users buy these from using their credit or debit card. Afterwards their e-tickets are emailed to them with a QR code, which the minibus driver scans when they travel. Commuter cards still have to be bought through the University’s online store and collected in person, as before, and paper tickets remain available for users who prefer them. Existing paper tickets still work, and people using their University Card or a Departmental Pool Card to travel on the shuttle can continue doing so.

The service connects central Oxford and the Science Area to the Headington hospitals, Old Road Campus, Wytham and Harwell Campus, providing a quick and reliable link between key research sites.

Take the Veggie Pledge!

Running over November, the VeggiePledge campaign aims to encourage students and staff to try vegetarian and vegan foods by creating competition between colleges to sign up the most people. It is managed by Oxford Student Union, with the Environmental Sustainability team helping to raise awareness. A plant-based diet uses less energy and produces less pollution than a carnivorous one, so cutting down on meat consumption is one of the easiest ways for people to reduce their environmental impact.

UniCycle launches with Cycle SeptemberUniCycle Logo

The University of Oxford has teamed up with the National Union of Students’ Love to Ride scheme to run UniCycle. The programme started with the Cycle September initiative but will run throughout the 2018/19 academic year.

UniCycle is a free scheme that aims to help people enjoy cycling and access the support they need to ride for transport. The site lets members set goals, track their mileage, earn badges, share photos and encourage others to ride. More than 400 staff signed up for Cycle September and between them rode more than 47,000 miles over the month.

The main UniCycle event starts in spring. The University will compete against peers across the UK to see which can get the most students and staff riding. This is the second year the University has taken part; it came first last year and now aims to hold onto the top spot.

Find out more and register at or by emailing the Environmental Sustainability team at

Sharing sustainability knowledge at ISCN conference

Members of the Environmental Sustainability team joined the three-day International Sustainable Campus Network’s (ISCN) annual conference in Stockholm in June to share knowledge and communicate their efforts to reduce the University’s environmental impact to the rest of the higher education sector.

The team were finalists for two ISCN awards and were invited to present the shortlisted activities to conference delegates. Deputy Head of Environmental Sustainability Tom Heel gave a presentation on the University’s move to the Passivhaus standard for low-energy buildings. He also joined Rupert Stuart-Smith, who spent a few months with the team as an intern last year, to present the results of Rupert's research during his internship, focusing on how to get people to make environmentally-beneficial changes to their behaviour. 

Environmental Sustainability host international guestsHarriet Waters presenting at the EAUC conference.

The Environmental Sustainability team have hosted the annual meeting of the Sustainable Campus Network of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU). The group worked together to plan what they will collaborate on in the next three years, following the recent publication of the IARU Green Guide for Universities. Harriet Waters, Head of Environmental Sustainability, will now chair the group for the next two years.

To finish the visit, the IARU group joined team members at the annual conference of the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) in Keele, helping them run workshops on how to get people to save energy by changing their behaviour.

The team also received a visit from the Korea Environment Corporation, a South Korean state body that handles environmental initiatives including one aimed at making university campuses more sustainable. Head of Environmental Sustainability Harriet Waters showed them round the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter and talked through an interpreter about Oxford green initiatives.

‘Roads are for People’ meeting explores Oxford’s sustainable transport futureRoad are for People

The Sustainability team provided funding and organisation support for a public meeting in early October on how we can make Oxford a safer and more pleasant place to cycle and walk around.

Keynote speaker was Andrew Gilligan, former London Cycling Commissioner and author of Running out of Road, a report on how to get more people cycling in Oxford, Cambridge and Milton Keynes, prepared at the behest of the National Infrastructure Commission. He explored how we should invest in cycling infrastructure – he argues that £150m of new money is needed to give Oxford the green transport network it deserves – and how to campaign for this to happen. Dr Nick Brown, chair of the Buildings and Estates Sub-Committee, also gave a short address setting out the University’s support for making Oxford a more cycle-friendly city.

The meeting was organised by Low Carbon North Oxford with input from local cycling advocacy group Cyclox, the Oxford Civic Society and the University’s Environmental Sustainability team. 

Broad Street junction shortlisted for award

The raised table that was installed in summer 2017 at the junction of Parks Road and Broad Street has been shortlisted for an award from the Oxford Preservation Trust (OPT). The new junction was created with funding from the University’s Green Travel Fund, in collaboration with the City and County Councils. It has helped create a more free-flowing junction that is safer for pedestrians and cyclists; because the carriageway is at the same level as the pavement, it has also made crossing the road much easier for people in wheelchairs. The winners of the OPT awards will be announced at an event on 6 November.

Keeping student cyclists safe and secureRed and silver bike

Security Services staff continue to work to keep students safe and stop them falling victim to cycle crime. This is particularly important in Michaelmas term as many new arrivals have little experience of cycling on busy city streets or of foiling determined bike thieves, so every year Security Services go out of their way to provide guidance to help them get up to speed. The team ran pop-up stands during Fresher’s Week, offering students the chance to buy discounted D-locks and cycle lights as well as giving out good advice on staying safe on the road and making sure their bikes are not stolen. They have also produced video guides on subjects such as how to lock a bike up securely, giving them a new way to reach students.

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