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Environment and Energy


Christina Larkin joined the Environment and Energy team on a 12 month graduate placement in 2015-16 as Carbon Management Assistant with Change Agents UK. In this case study she writes about the aims and successes of her placement.

“Christina has become a highly valued member of the team over the past year and played a key role in taking forward several areas of work that underpin the University’s approach to carbon management” Sally Pidgeon, Carbon Reduction Manager

The Brief

The University of Cambridge’s Environment and Energy section works to improve the environmental sustainability of the University’s operational estate. With an estate portfolio valued at over £1.7bn, a planned capital building programme worth £412m, and energy costs of £15m a year, the University has a high environmental impact and large carbon footprint. We are committed to an absolute reduction of our carbon footprint by 2020.

My graduate placement, as Carbon Management Assistant was created to help support the Carbon Reduction Manager in a number of areas of carbon management.

The project

Key Responsibilities: I supported the Carbon Reduction Manager in a number of areas including data management, analysis and reporting; project design and implementation; and communications and engagement. I also helped to implement the Energy and Carbon Reduction Project (ECRP).                

Opportunity Benefits: I was given the opportunity to attend many events as well to develop skills and knowledge outside of  the scope of the role. I was given the independence to focus and work on different areas, and to make contacts which will be extremely useful for my future career and studies.

The Result

During my opportunity I launched and started the beginnings of the University’s Green Labs Programme – a programme which seeks to reduce the environmental impact of scientific research where possible. I helped to organise the launch of the University’s Equipment Replacement Programme, which should see large carbon savings with funding to replace inefficient pieces of energy intensive equipment, such as -80 freezers, in the near future. I also helped on a practical level with the current review of the University’s Carbon Management Plan. I carried out, reviewed and improved the University’s methods for reporting Scope 3 (indirect) carbon emissions helping to report against targets in the future.

The Partnership

My placement was organised through Change Agents, who supported the University in terms of helping with the recruitment process and provided me with personal and professional development as a graduate. Having access to external mentoring and support specialising in work with graduates in this sector was extremely useful. Being able to work towards a Professional Development Award was something I would have not been able to do without Change Agents.

Next Steps

I am returning to the University as a PhD student under the Cambridge Earth System Science NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, and am hoping to take the sustainable practises I've learnt during this placement into the research I will be carrying out over the coming years.

Christina Larkin August 2016