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Environment and Energy


Q. How do I save energy?

View our Top Tips

Q. Why should I save energy/recycle?

Reducing our environmental impact through saving energy and reducing the amount of waste we send to landfill has many benefits including:

  • Saving the University money that can be better spent on teaching and research
  • Helps finite natural resources last longer
  • Reducing our contribution to climate change
  • Reducing pollution
  • Promoting a good public image.

See why previous Green Impact teams have got involved

Q. What is the University of Cambridge doing to be greener?

We are actively implementing a number of policies across the University to lessen our environmental impact, including:

The University has a dedicated Environment and Energy Section whose role is to work across the entire organisation to drive and support sustainability improvements. We use the EcoCampus environmental management system, building towards ISO14001. We have achieved a Silver award; our next goal is to achieve Gold. We take part in the annual Green Impact award scheme and operate a network of volunteer Environment and Energy Coordinators. We use the design and assessment tool BREEAM to incorporate sustainability considerations into the design of new buildings.

Q. How can I get involved?

There are a number of ways you can get involved. Find out more…! Of course, you can always contact us with any questions.

Q. Can I apply to be an intern within the Environment and Energy team?

Short answer for current University of Cambridge students: yes! We do not currently offer independent internships or work experience placements. See the Living Lab pages for more information.

Q. Does the University of Cambridge have an Environmental Policy?

Yes, the University's Environmental Sustainability Vision, Policy and Strategy was published in 2015.

Q. Does the University of Cambridge have carbon targets?

Q. What simple actions can I undertake to green my office or lab?

See our Top Tips!


Q. How do I report problems with heating?

Contact the Maintenance Helpdesk on 01223 (3)37784 or email (opening hours Monday to Thursday 8.30am - 5.00 pm and Friday 8.30am - 4.30 pm).

Contact the Environment and Energy Section to request a room thermometer.

Q. How do I report a dripping tap?

Contact the Maintenance Helpdesk on 01223 (3)37784 or email (opening hours Monday to Thursday 8.30am - 5.00 pm and Friday 8.30am - 4.30 pm).

Q. Is there anything that can be done about leaky window frames and cold draughts?

Contact the Maintenance Helpdesk on 01223 (3)37784 or email (opening hours Monday to Thursday 8.30am - 5.00 pm and Friday 8.30am - 4.30 pm),, as there is a programme across the University estate to draughtproof windows. We acknowledge that at times it may not be enough, but recommend that if you know that you tend to get cold or hot in your office make sure that you have layers to try and self-regulate your temperature.

Q. How can I request sensor lighting for my office/department?

Contact with queries regarding the possibility of presence sensor lighting for your department.

Q. What is the most energy-efficient kettle?

When looking to purchase a kettle, try to find one with the following features:

  • Variable temperature boil – this allows you to heat water to 100 degrees C when necessary (e.g. for black tea) but to a slightly cooler temperature for other beverages which do not require boiling water (e.g. coffee, herbal teas, etc). The flavour of some drinks (e.g. green tea) can actually be spoilt by using water which is too hot – so not only does this save energy but you get a better tasting cuppa too!
  • Water reservoir – this allows you to fill the kettle up, but only boil as many cups as you require.
  • Volume gauge which measures in ‘cups’ instead of millilitres – this helps you to add the correct amount of water to the kettle based on the number of cups you want to boil.

For more information, visit The Renewable Energy website.

Q. Is it better to buy recycled printer paper or FSC certified?

Both of these offer a greener option than regular paper, but there is a debate surrounding which is better – see Recycled or FSC-certifed.

For general questions, please explore our green procurement pages.

Q. What can I recycle, and where should it go?

Q. How can we train staff, students, and our cleaners around the University’s waste systems?

Have a look at our recycling posters, and if you have specific questions please email to arrange for one of our team to come and talk to as large or small a group as would be helpful.

Q. We have functioning but unwanted furniture or supplies – can we recycle it internally?

The University of Cambridge has a new online resource sharing tool, called WARPit. It acts like a free version of eBay, for staff and departments to avoid procurement costs as well as helping you to avoid throwing away functional items that are no longer needed.

Find out more:

  • Easy to donate to someone else: save disposal hassle
  • Improve internal collaboration and resilience
  • Reduce emissions from waste and supply
  • Liberate space, and feel good!

Please note that WARPit is not for items from home, and not for ‘waste’ (i.e. broken) items. Electrical items that are not working should be disposed of through the free ‘WEEE’ scheme

Q. Who do we talk to with issues around external Eurobins?

Contact Facilities Management (

Q. Can I recycle the bottles we buy laboratory solvents and chemicals in?

If they are empty and free of toxic material and the labels removed or defaced then yes these can be recycled. Some suppliers will take Winchesters back, so it's worth checking with your supplier.

Q. How do I apply for the Cycle to Work Scheme to obtain my tax-free bicycle and associated equipment through the salary sacrifice scheme?

See our cycling page in the Travel section.

Q. How do I apply for 10% discount on train season tickets?

See our train page in the Travel section.

Q. How do I find a car share team?

Find out more about car sharing in the Travel pages.

Q. How do I try and make sure my bike doesn’t get stolen?

Students, for information on locking and registering your bike, as well as other useful information, see Student Advice. There is also information on our cycling page in the Travel section.

Q. How do I know which Park and Ride to take?

Have a look at our bus information.

Q. Where can I catch the Uni4 bus from, and what’s the subsidised rate?

Use your University Card to get cheaper travel on the Universal – find the current rate and route information on our bus information webpage.

Q. What is better, paper towels or hand driers?

A recent life cycle analysis of paper towels vs. hand driers indicates that hand driers are the ‘greener’ option – but bear in mind that both options contribute to environmental degradation, so if possible drip dry instead!

Q. How can I stay up to date with environment related news at Cambridge?

Greenlines is the University's monthly electronic sustainability newsletter. It provides information from and for departments across environmental and energy-related topics, including waste reduction, sustainable travel, energy and water efficiency, local food, wildlife and lots more.

Q. How do I sign up for Greenlines?

Click here to be added to the Greenlines mailing list.

Q. What are the best drinks receptacles or cups to use, from an environmental point of view?

When deciding what type of receptacles to provide to staff and students for hot and cold drinks, it's tricky to know what is the preferred option from an environmental point of view. However applying the ‘waste heirarchy’ helps to work out an answer. The waste heirarchy states that resources should firstly have their use avoided completely or reduced in volume/mass during production, if that’s not possible then they should be re-used, if not then they should be recycled into new products, if not then they should be treated or used to create energy, if not they shuold as a last resort be incinerated or disposed of to landfill.

Using this principle, the best options for drinks receptacles are as follows, in order of best to worst:

1.    glass cup - designed for multiple uses
2.    plastic cup - designed for multiple uses 
3.    ceramic cup - designed for multiple uses
4.    plastic/metal thermos - designed for multiple uses
5.    ‘Vegware’ or 'Bioware' compostable cups – single use - can be composted or anaerobically digested.
6.    paper cup - single component (recycled paper, wax coated, no plastic) - single use
7.    thin “disposable” plastic cup – usually recyclable - single use (manufactured from recycled plastic)
8.    paper cup - single component (virgin pulp, wax coated, no plastic) - single use
9.    thin “disposable” plastic cup – usually recyclable - single use (manufactured from new plastic)
10.    paper cup - multicomponent (i.e. contains plastic film) - not recyclable, single use (manufactured from recycled materials)
11.    paper cup - multicomponent (i.e. contains plastic film) - not recyclable, single use (manufactured from virgin materials)
12.    polystyrene cup - not currently recyclable - single use

Note that this list prioritises re-usability and recyclability, however it's also important to consider the embodied energy/carbon emissions to produce the cups in the first place. This table gives an indication of embodied carbon in typical materials, and would affect the above list. In particular, the top 4 items would be ranked in order of ceramic, then glass, then plastic, then metal. A more comprehensive set of figures illustrating the 'embodied carbon' in typical materials, as well as the carbon emitted from common disposal routes, is available from the UK Government.