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Green Impact Awards 2016-17

On 21 June the University of Cambridge presented its 2017 'Cambridge Green Challenge' awards. The ceremony recognised the efforts of staff and students who had worked to improve the environmental performance of their places of work and study throughout the 2016-17 academic year. Professor Ian Leslie, the University’s Senior Adviser to the Vice-Chancellor with special responsibility for Environmental Sustainability presented the awards to the winners in each category. This page details all the successful winners in the University of Cambridge Green Challenge awards. Photos of the event can be found on the Environment & Energy Facebook page, and there's also a slide show, presented at the ceremony, which shows all the statistics, league tables and quotes about teams taking part this year.

Green Impact Labs awards

This year we had eight labs take part in Green Impact, more than ever before in the five years that Green Impact has taken place at Cambridge. Scientific research is one of the most energy and resource intensive aspects of the University, so it’s vital that labs and research facilities are operated in an efficient and sustainable way. This year’s Green Impact labs winners were:

  • Corpus Christi College – Bronze LabsLabs award winners
  • Department of Medicine - Gold Labs
  • IMS-MRL - Gold Labs
  • Obs & Gynae Green Team - Gold Labs
  • Plant Sciences Green Team – Gold Labs
  • The Sainsbury Laboratory - Gold Labs
  • Cancer Research UK - Cambridge Institute - Platinum Labs
  • Geography Science Laboratories - Platinum Labs

Bronze Green Impact awards

Ten new teams took part in Green Impact for the first time in 2016-17, and many of them started off by working towards a Bronze award, taking great initial steps to embed good environmental practices, and to communicate to colleagues and students on a range of sustainability issues. The winners of a Bronze award were:

  • Department of ArchitectureBronze award winners
  • Department of Earth Sciences
  • Department of Medicine
  • Maxwell Centre
  • Jesus College
  • King's College
  • Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Silver Green Impact awards

Some of last year’s Bronze winners continued their Green Impact journey this year by stepping up to a Silver award, while a couple of new participants in the award took an impressive jump straight to Silver in their first year taking part! The winners of a Silver award were:

  • Centre for Mathematical SciencesSilver award winners
  • Department of Sociology
  • Faculty of Philosophy
  • Department of Geography
  • Office of Intercollegiate Services
  • Trinity College

Gold Green Impact awards

A record number of teams this year reached the 'Gold' level, a highly impressive achievement. As well as setting up clear processes for improving their environmental performance in areas such as energy use, recycling and sustainable travel, Gold teams have gone further to tackle wider environmental issues such as biodiversity, procurement, and sustainable food, all tailored to their own contexts. Many of the teams used collaborative efforts between staff and students to make positive environmental changes, and there were many inspirational examples of good practice which came from this year’s Gold winning teams:

  • Alison Richards BuildingGold award winners
  • Christ's College
  • Churchill College
  • Clare Hall
  • Department of Psychiatry
  • Department of Psychology 
  • Disability Resource Centre
  • Emmanuel College
  • Gold colleges award winnersGreenwich House Green Impact
  • Obs & Gynae Green Team
  • Pembroke College
  • Robinson College
  • St Catharine's College 
  • Wolfson College 

Platinum Green Impact awards

With Green Impact now in its fifth year, many teams who had reached the Gold level in previous years wanted to go even further. It was great to see this drive and passion from these teams, so at the launch of Green Impact in October 2016 a new award level was Introduced. The Platinum award is for those teams who have gone way above the Green Impact points criteria needed for Gold. The winners of a Platinum award were:Platinum award winners

  • Cambridge Commonwealth, European & International Trust
  • Cancer Research UK - Cambridge Institute
  • Madingley Hall
  • Clare College
  • Corpus Christi College

Excellence Green Impact Awards 

While some teams decided to go further in their sustainability journey by completing ever more actions in the University of Cambridge Green Impact workbook, last year we also introduced a flexible award for previous Gold-winning teams who wanted to focus on their own sustainability-related project over the academic year. Four Excellence Awards were completed, each of which saw some really innovative ideas tackling sustainability challenges of specific relevance to the teams' own departments or colleges:

Clare College carried out a project to map biodiversity on the College grounds, including through 360 degree video technology, and displayed the results on an interactive website to raise awareness of the characteristics of key habitats of importance to the local ecosystem. 

Clare College's Excellence Award


The University Counselling Service undertook an initiative involving setting up a recycling service for pens and writing instruments across the University. Collections points were set up across the University, and all proceeds are going to charity. 

Counselling Service Excellence winners

Modern & Medieval Languages carried out a project to engage with a local primary school. This included running a competition for the students to design biodiversity improvements on the Sidgwick Site, and a multi-lingual poster design competition to foster environmental awareness within the department.

MML Excellence Winners


MRC Epidemiology's project worked to reduce the carbon footprint of IT Infrastructure in the unit, through replacing and consolidating energy and resource inefficient servers and printers with a more energy efficient system, which also aimed to cut down on the need for site-to-site travel.

Excellence winners from MRC Epidemiology

Special Awards

The Special Awards aimed to highlight projects and individuals which have gone the extra mile as part of, and alongside Green Impact. The projects and initiatives were nominated by Green Impact participants as having made a difference above and beyond the requirements of the Green Impact workbook.Corpus Christi's Special Award winners

  • The ‘Community Action Award’ went to Corpus Christi College for their ‘Feathery Feast’ which gave young chefs the valuable chance to meet and learn from some of the UK’s most outstanding chefs, while raising money for NSPCC. Our judges really liked to see the commitment to the social side sustainability from this college which has demonstrated such good environmental sustainability performance.


Special award winners from Wolfson College

  • The ‘Environmental Improvement Award’ went to Wolfson Hall for their Green Week. The Environmental Improvement Award is all about going above and beyond the Green Impact actions. Wolfson College, a new participant in Green Impact this year, dove headfirst into the scheme, including through this week of activities. Through strong collaboration between staff and students, a whole series of initiatives were put in place and events held. The events proved to be quite successful and have encouraged staff and students to get on board with the College’s green efforts in a fun way.

Special award winners from CRUK

  • The ‘Innovation for Engagement’ award goes to the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute for their approach to the University’s ‘Spotlight On’ months. This included a fantastic Mannequin Challenge on ‘Thermal Thursday’ during Spotlight on Energy month, which has been watched by several thousand people, a sustainable menu and recipe competition in the canteen during Spotlight on Sustainable Food month, and a fold up bicycle competition during Spotlight on Sustainable Travel Month. The team have really shown how to raise environmental awareness in a fun and engaging way.

As well as recognising great sustainability-related initiatives and events, the special awards recognised two individuals who had gone the extra mile as part of Green Impact:

  • Richard Denham, Environmental hero winnerThe Environmental Hero award was won by Richard Denham from Madingley Hall. Richard was nominated by his colleagues, and while there were a number of very strong candidates who all deserve recognition, the judges were really impressed at how much passion Richard has shown over several years as the driving force behind the Green Impact Team, culminating in a platinum award this year. Never happy with second best he drives the team forward and consistently launches new initiatives across the estate with a positive attitude that is infectious to the team and the whole Institute.


Lily, Student leadership Award winner

  • The Student Leadership Award was won by Lily Maxwell from Pembroke College. Lily worked hard to involve fellow students in environmental sustainability issues, including through inductions, events, and social media, and our judges were pleased to see Lily having such a positive impact at her college, through efforts to help the college rethink some of its environmental policies, increase student participation in Environmental Committee meetings, organising Pembroke's first ever Green Week, and setting up successful social media profiles for Pembroke’s Green Impact efforts. As a winner of this award, Lily was entered into the National NUS awards, and impressively was awarded with the award at a national level too.

Carbon Challenge Awards

The inaugural Carbon Challenge award was then announced. This new competition launched at the beginning of the academic year invited staff and students to form teams and develop innovative proposals to cut carbon emissions on the University estate. These were proposed to specialists judges from within the University, and a project plan and concepts drawn up. There were two contenders for the award:PlanIt Green team, winners of carbon challenge award

  • Carbon Challenge Runner-up: ‘Team Solar Storage’ who proposed the use of battery storage alongside solar panels at Laundry Farm (where the University’s fleet of electric vehicles are based).
  • Carbon Challenge Winner: ‘Team PlanIt Green’ with their plan to use hydroponics (a dense soil-less plant growth system) to lower building energy use by reducing the energy required for ventilation and heating.

Both projects will be receiving funding to be implemented on the University estate.