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Green Impact Awards 2019-20

The eighth year of Green Impact at the University of Cambridge will be one to remember! Not only did staff and students manage to complete a record number of sustainability actions (over 2,400), they did so during a time of unprecedented disruption. Due to the challenges posed by COVID-19 and the University shutdown, this year’s audits and award ceremonies took place remotely. Whilst we would have loved to celebrate with teams in-person, we were absolutely delighted to present a staggering 46 awards this year. As well as some really active new teams, it was fantastic to see our greatest-ever proportion of Gold, Platinum and Excellence awards – these levels made up 54% of the total number of awards presented in 2020. Congratulations to everyone who took part this year!

See the video below for a personal congratulatory message from Ian Leslie, Senior Adviser to the Vice-Chancellor with special responsibility for Information System Strategy and Environmental Sustainability.

How does Green Impact work?

In Green Impact, teams of staff and students work their way through a structured workbook of increasingly complex actions to encourage sustainable behaviour within their workplaces. Each action is worth a certain number of points and these points add up to an award level. We also present Special Awards to teams or individuals who have gone above and beyond the suggested actions of Green Impact. Read on to find out this year’s winners and get in touch if you’d like to find out more about Green Impact and how you could become a 2021 award winner.

Departmental Green Impact awards

Departments, organisations and/or buildings start their Green Impact journey at the Working Towards Bronze or Bronze level where they take their first steps in embedding good environmental practices and communicating with colleagues and students on sustainability issues. Once Bronze has been achieved, teams can progress to Silver where they designate an Environment and Energy Coordinator and work to complete further actions addressing areas such as energy, waste and water use. Building on their Silver awards, teams can then work towards Gold, and eventually Platinum, awards by tackling an even greater range of topics including biodiversity, procurement and sustainable food. It’s been great to see new teams getting stuck in this year as well as some of our more experienced teams building on their past awards – well done and thank you to all!

  • Staff Counselling Centre – Working Towards Bronze
  • Department of Engineering, Trumpington Street site – Working Towards Bronze
  • Student Services Centre – Bronze
  • SHSS Green Team – Bronze
  • Jeffrey Cheah Biomedical Centre – Bronze
  • Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics – Bronze
  • John van Geest Centre for Brain Repair – Bronze
  • Maxwell Centre – Bronze
  • Cambridge Assessment – Silver
  • Meet Cambridge – Silver
  • Cambridge University Botanic Garden – Silver
  • Cancer Research UK – Silver
  • Department of Geography – Silver
  • Fauna & Flora International – Silver
  • Cambridge Archaeological Unit – Silver
  • MRC Epidemiology – Silver
  • Centre for Digital Built Britain – Silver
  • Isaac Newton Institute – Gold
  • University Information Services – Gold
  • Department of Sociology – Gold
  • Herchel Smith Building – Gold
  • Institute for Manufacturing – Platinum
  • The Green Genies – Platinum
  • Department of Land Economy – Platinum
  • The Institute of Continuing Education – Platinum

Examples of actions taken by Green Impact teams can be found here.

College Green Impact awards

This year we had a record number of Colleges winning Green Impact awards, can you see your College listed here? Colleges have a different set of suggested actions to departmental teams but similarly, they work to Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum awards which recognise the complexity, and potential, of the College environment. We have seen some particularly great action on sustainable food, carbon reduction and biodiversity from Colleges this year and you can see highlights of some of these actions in the award ceremony slides. Thank you to all our College teams, your efforts are truly inspiring and we look forward to seeing more Colleges following in your footsteps.

  • Churchill College – Platinum Colleges
  • Clare College – Gold Colleges
  • Corpus Christi College – Platinum Colleges
  • Fitzwilliam College – Gold Colleges
  • Girton College – Platinum Colleges
  • Hughes Hall – Gold Colleges
  • Jesus College – Gold Colleges
  • King’s College – Gold Colleges
  • Lucy Cavendish College – Gold Colleges
  • Magdalene College – Gold Colleges
  • Murray Edwards College – Gold Colleges
  • Robinson College – Platinum Colleges
  • St John’s College – Gold Colleges
  • Wolfson College – Gold Colleges

Labs Green Impact awards

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 lab winners are:

  • Corpus Christi College – Bronze Labs
  • John van Geest Centre for Brain Repair – Gold Labs
  • Department of Zoology – Gold Labs
  • Geography Science Laboratories – Platinum Labs

Examples of actions taken by labs and highlighted in the awards ceremony presentation can be found here.

Excellence Green Impact awards

While our Platinum-winning teams have demonstrated huge commitment by going beyond the Gold requirements, some other teams have chosen to take their Green Impact efforts to the next step in a completely different way. The ‘Excellence’ award winning departments have spent this year focusing on one larger sustainability-themed project of their own design, and of specific relevance to their own context. This year’s Excellence winners are:

  • Churchill College for their project tackling single-use plastics across the College. The team used a multifaceted approach, engaging students, staff, stakeholders and catering and conferencing teams, to dramatically reduce the use of single-use plastics. Click here to find out more about their results.
  • The Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership achieved Excellence this year by developing a tool to track and record their scope 1, 2 and 3 carbon emissions. The outcomes of the project have already improved policies, processes and practices at CISL.
  • The Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience (PDN) researched the environmental hazards associated with antibiotic waste and ensured strategies to ensure its proper disposal and treatment in PDN were in place.

Find out more about this year’s Excellence projects here.

Special awards

The Green Impact Special awards aim 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. From zero waste markets and decarbonisation initiatives to biodiversity surveys and more, find out about the amazing achievements of our Special award winners here. 

Sustainability Hero award

  • Vanessa Skinner, Student Services Centre
  • Ruth Carter and Ellen MacKay, Cambridge Assessment

Innovation for Engagement award

  • Department of Geography
  • Highly Commended – Stewart Rosell

Community Action award

Environmental Improvement award

  • Fitzwilliam College

Student Leadership award

  • Charlie Barty-King, Wolfson College
  • Jessica Tearney Pearce, St John’s College


Student auditors

This year, we were lucky enough to provide training to a record number of student auditors from almost 30 different disciplines and 24 different Cambridge Colleges. An amazing 48 students, ranging from first years to PhD students, contributed their time and skills to assess our award-winning Green impact teams. Due to COVID-19, the audits had to be moved online at the last minute, but the students rose to the challenge with absolute professionalism. Thank you to our student auditors for making Green Impact 2019/20 possible! You can hear more about being a student auditor here.