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Environment and Energy


Here you can find documents providing guidance on a range of areas supported by the Environment and Energy Section. Please contact us with any queries or suggestions for new guidance.

On this page:


Policy on Thermal Comfort

The University aims to provide a comfortable working environment for staff and students, and to comply with Health and Safety requirements while minimising carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and costs arising from the operation of heating systems. The Policy on Thermal Comfort sets out our position on heating and cooling.

 Download the Policy on Thermal Comfort

The design and construction of environmentally sustainable new buildings

The University's Estate Development team works alongside the Environment and Energy Section to deliver sustainable concepts within the planning and delivery of its projects. 

Our construction consultants and contractors are expected to give high priority to environmental sustainability and are guided in this respect by our Design & Standards Brief. 

Download the Design and Standards Brief here.

BREEAM policy

The University of Cambridge has a policy on standards for new buildings.

View our BREEAM policy

Building/Room User Guide template

A 'building user guide' can help occupants of a building to understand how their building operates, and contribute to its efficient running. Below is a template building user guide, as well as a room user guide to help provide information on the operation of particular rooms, such as meeting rooms.

Other buildings issues

Contact the Environment and Energy Section for guidance and support on any of the following areas:

  1. Environmentally sustainable design and construction
  2. Guidance for the prevention of pollution
  3. Spillage guidance
  4. Any staff training requests.


While the 31 Cambridge Colleges operate separately from the University, we are keen to support their environmental efforts.

Lowering a College's environmental footprint - a practical guide

Clare College have won several Green Impact awards and are working hard to address their environmental performance. This short presentation covers some of the action they have been taking:

Download 'Lowering a College's environmental footprint - a practical guide'

Many Colleges are involved in Green Impact at the University. Read more here.

Emissions and pollution

Guidance on emissions to drains

It is important to ensure that hazardous substances, for instance from laboratories, do not go down drains.

Guidance on emissions to the atmosphere

It is the duty of all staff and students to ensure that where possible, they take positive action to reduce the amount of harmful emissions to the atmosphere and that they do not breach any relevant legislation. 

Measuring and monitoring energy use and carbon emissions from different activities

This 'cheat sheet' gives some useful figures and factors which can help convert different activities into carbon emissions equivalent.


SystemsLink user guide

Use the SystemsLink Online Energy Reporting 

System to view your energy data 

online and submit meter readings.

Download 'SystemsLink user guide' and access SystemsLink data

Lighting & equipment responsibility plan

A lighting and equipment responsibility plan can help formalise who in your department or building is responsible for switching off equipment, helping to cut energy use outside of working hours. This template document can be adapted for your own use, and will help meet one of the requirements under Green Impact:

Download 'Lighting and Equipment Responsibility Plan (template)'

Basic energy audit

An energy audit of your office or building can help identify areas where energy is being wasted and where improvements can be made.

Download 'Basic energy audit checklist (template)'

Office IT switch off guidance

IT equipment, including servers, can account for up to 25% of the total amount of electricity consumed in a typical office in the University.

This guidance, which has been developed by the Environment and Energy Section in consultation with UIS (University Information Services), outlines steps that we can each take to reduce the amount of energy consumed by the IT equipment we use at work.

 Download 'Office IT Switch Off Guidance'

You can find more information on energy and carbon management at the Unviersity here.

Six Steps to Energy Saving in Your Workplace

Every University department, institute and building can take simple steps to reduce their energy use. Here are six simple steps for tackling the energy use of your workplace.

Engaging others in sustainability

How to run an environmental event

Are you interested in raising awareness about environment and energy issues in your department or college? Helping people to understand how environmental sustainability and energy saving is relevant to them? Giving your green team an enhanced presence? Think about how you could use events to engage your colleagues and/or students...

This document provides University members with a few pointers to think about before running an environment stall, but is relevant to other events you wish to hold, such as a film showing, or a talk:

Download 'How to run an environmental event'

This presentation contains a step-by-step guide to planning environmental awareness raising events, and includes around 30 examples of events and activities which have taken place in Cambridge departments and colleges.

Download 'planning amazing events'

You can read more about getting involved in improving environmental performance at the University here.

View 'Top tips for energy-related behavioural change'

There are a number of sustainability events that you can join in with during the year.

View 'Environment and Energy Calendar 2018/19'

How to engage students effectively

View our guidance on how to engage students effectively 

Here is a template providing environmental sustainability tips, suggestions and facts (to adapt to fit your own context and use for websites and handbooks or as a standalone handout).

Measuring and sharing your environmental progress

This training presentation aimed at Green Impact teams gives an overview of different approaches to measuring and sharing your environmental progress.


Sustainable Food Policy

The University has published a Sustainable Food Policy which applies to all catering outlets operated by the University Catering Service (UCS). The policy sets out a number of aims and objectives highlighting areas of sustainable food which the Service aim to address.

Download 'Sustainable Food Policy'

You can read more about addressing sustainable food issues in your department on the 'spotlight on sustainable food' page here.

Sustainable food procurement

By creating and following guidelines you can ensure that events in your department consider sustainability throughout. Staff in the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership's recently created guidance for their staff that, detailing what could be considered at the event planning stage. 

Find an example of what CISL provide to their caterers to help them provide sustainable food for their events (feel free to adapt for your own context).

Ideas for a sustainable food-themed event

If you would like to engage your colleagues on the topic of sustainable food, but are unsure where to start; our Sustainable Food Event Guidance provides lots of appetizing ideas that you can use to get people involved.

All events should follow the University's Food Safety Guidance.

In case of 'high risk' foods e.g items needing refrigeration such as dairy products and meat or fish; we recommend collaboration with catering providers in the provision of food rather than bringing in home cooked produce. 

Green Impact

The following are resources which may be of use to staff and students involved in Green Impact. As well as the resources below, the NUS has a dedicated Green Impact team resource bank which may also be of use for Green Impact teams, and don't forget to visit our posters, materials and stickers page.

Simple guide to Green Impact

A guide to Green Impact and why you should get involved for the 2018/19 academic year!

Download the simple guide to Green Impact

Green Impact - what's new this year?

Every year, Green Impact evolves to take on board feedback from previous participants, and to include new actions in evolving areas of sustainability. If you were involved in Green Impact last year, make sure you have a read...

Guide to what's changed in 2018/19

Workbook user guide

NUS administer the Green Impact 'workbook'. This guide tells you how to use the online site effectively, and includes a number of useful tips.

Download the workbook user guide

Resources for Green Impact Excellence projects

Excellence projects are available to teams who have achieved a 'Gold' Green Impact award. These documents are used to guide their Excellence throughout the year:

​If you require further support, guidance or resources relating to Green Impact, just email the team.

Green Labs

The following documents provide guidance for staff working in labs.

Green Labs Workshops - Summary Handouts

Lab Energy - Held 08/02/2019 & 11/02/2019

Reduce and Re-use - Held 20/11/2018 & 23/11/2019

Cold Storage - Held 18/07/2018 & 19/07/2018

You can read more about Green Labs at the University here.


Guide to Green Stationery

Download our 'Guide to Green Stationery’ which provides general guidance to identifying environmentally-friendly stationery products, as well as specific examples from iProcurement of such products for commonly used items.

Download 'Guide to Green Stationery'

      You can find more information about green procurement guidance on this website, or read our guide to buying common items.

      Staff inductions

      e-Learning induction module

      In order to meet our University energy targets, it is important for new staff members to be aware of the University’s commitment to sustainability, and to motivate them to contribute in any way they can. An e-learning module is available for all University staff to take which provides a useful overview for new staff, or a refresher for existing staff. See our induction page for more details.

      Best practice guide for staff inductions

      While the online induction provides a University-wide insight into environmental sustainability issues for staff, it's important for local environmental procedures to be communicated as part of the induction process. We have produced a guidance document which includes some potential template material to use within your own Department, building or team.

       Download 'Staff Inductions: Best Practice Guide and Template'

      Student inductions

      Student induction guidance

      It is important for students to contribute to sustainability issues at the University. See our guidance on delivering an effective induction on sustainability matters. Template presentations have been produced to accompany this and can be downloaded below. 

      The information found here can be adapted for handbooks and/or websites.

      Room information

      Besides the student induction guidance and template presentation slides, we have also produced a template information sheet for student rooms.

      Template presentations for student inductions

      Specific presentations have been created for both Colleges and for University departments. They contain relevant information, statistics and tips, and are designed to inform new students of environmental sustainability initiaitives and opportunities to get involved. There are varying lengths to use depending on the amount of detail you would like, and how much time you have (the number of slides roughly equates to the number of minutes). Please feel free to adapt them for your use and make them relevant to your particular context.

      If you have any feedback on these presentations and/or to let us know if you have used them, please contact us

      Induction presentations for Colleges:

      Induction presentations for departments:

        Teaching and learning

        Education for sustainable development guide

        Produced by an expert group drawn from across the higher education sector, a 2014 report on ESD intends to support higher education providers wishing to embrace education for sustainable development as part of the student academic experience.

        Download and read the report: 'Education for sustainable development: Guidance for UK higher education providers'

        (Opens in a new window)


        Pool bike guidance

        Interested in setting up a pool bike scheme in your department? A number of departments and buildings have already done this, and we've compiled some best practice guidance showing you how it can be done.

        Download our step-by-step guidance on how to set up a pool bike scheme.

        Personalised travel planning

        'Personalised travel planning' is an established approach that enables people to think about the way they currently travel and provides them with the information, advice and motivation to walk, cycle and use public transport more often. Our Travel Plan Manager has put together a training presentation all about presonalised planning, aimed at University of Cambridge staff.

        Download our personalised travel planning training presentation

        See more on sustainable travel at the University, including what's on offer to staff here.

        See site travel guides showing all the key sustainable travel links for each of the university's main sites here.

        Waste management

        Guide to waste & recycling for University departments

        Read the 5-stage guide and checklist for improving recycling and cutting waste in your department or building.

        Download the Cambridge Green Challenge recycling guidance

        Step-by-step waste audit guidance

        Conduct a waste audit in your department or office! Read our step by step guidance on conducting your own simple waste audit.

        Download our step by step guide to conducting a simple waste audit

        What happens to University waste?

        Placing our waste into the correct bin is just the first step on a journey to a new product. Find out exactly where our waste goes with this handy guide. 

        Waste responsibility plan

        Ensuring that waste is disposed of correctly from your department can be difficult to keep track of. This template waste matrix is a useful and visible way of keeping track of who is responsible for each waste stream, and how Duty of Care records are dealt with.

        See more about waste and recycling at the university here.


        Please contact the Environment and Energy Section for guidance and support on:

        • Construction site waste management
        • Any queries
        • Staff training requests.

        General information