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This page is moving to our SharePoint Communications Site at the end of November. 

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


The University is keen to help staff and students engage in promoting and enhancing biodiversity and has created an engagement pack [link opens Google drive folder] for anyone keen to do so. This engagement pack will also be used by 'Biodiversiteams' taking part in the WilderCambridge competition for biodiversity engagement. See the 'project description' document in the folder for more information. Email us if you're interested in taking part in our biodiversity engagement initiative.

Self-guided biodiversity advice

Self-guided biodiversity advice sheets can be found below.  There are three guides giving advice on monitoring and identification of wildlife, ideas for practical improvements for outdoor spaces which enhance these areas for biodiversity and how to best attract wildlife.

Hints and resources for monitoring biodiversity
What can you do to help biodiversity? What do you want to attract?

The design and construction of environmentally sustainable new buildings

The University's Estate Development team works alongside the Sustainability Team 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

Energy Cost Metric

The Energy Cost Metric was developed in response to a proposal by the late Sir David Mackay and colleagues at the Cambridge University Engineering Department that greater rigour be applied to decisions affecting the energy performance of their new buildings.  A key motivating factor in the development of the Energy Cost Metric was to create a methodology that drives cost effective decision making; ensuring eye-catching, expensive measures do not displace options that can deliver more energy saving per pound spent. Lifecycle energy embodied in components is combined with the operational energy consumption in a simple formula that indicates the lowest lifecycle energy consumption for options within a given capital cost.

Download the 2019 Energy Cost Metric Guide

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 Sustainability Team 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.

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



Carbon Offsetting

A Carbon Offsetting Working Group (COWG) is working to develop an internal offsetting scheme that is likely to include a portfolio of measures including local nature-based solutions and the use of external offsetting schemes. For more information see our Carbon Offsetting page. The COWG recognises that several departments and institutions are already or are keen to begin offsetting and that research funders are starting to allow the costs of carbon offsetting from travel to be included in research grant applications. Therefore, the COWG has provided guidance to support this. A template for recording estimated carbon emissions associated with travel is also available.

Carbon emission conversion 'cheat sheet'

This 'cheat sheet' gives some useful figures and factors which can help convert different activities into carbon emissions equivalent, and is designed to support Green Impact teams make simple calculations to assess the impact of changes in practices they instigate.


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

Science Based Targets

The University of Cambridge has adopted a science based carbon reduction target (SBCRT) for carbon emissions reduction. For Cambridge Colleges who wish to develop a target, the University’s Sustainability Team have commissioned a tool enabling each College to generate its own SBCRT and to produce an annual carbon emissions report:

A Science Based Target Tool for the Cambridge Colleges - Briefing note and FAQs for users

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.


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 Sustainability Team 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.


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. 

Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework

There are many ways of making your laboratory and research practices more energy efficient and sustainable.

Tailored to laboratories, the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) is our new tool to help you make changes in your lab space that improve the carbon footprint of your work.
Already used by dozens of research institutions across the country, LEAF provides the guidance and criteria you need to complete meaningful actions and earn your lab an award in the process.

To find out more about LEAF go to the LEAF webpage.

Legal Compliance

See our Environmental Legal Compliance page for a simple checklist of things to help you comply with environmental legislation in your University building.


Procurement - sustainability considerations

The University's procurement pages have useful guidance on sustainability considerations when purchasing or procuring goods and services, including a series of sustainability guides.

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'

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Sustainable Business Travel Guidelines

The University has adopted guidelines for its staff and students on what steps they should take to reduce the environmental impact of University business travel.

Approved by University Council March 2022.

Download our Guidelines for Sustainable Business Travel.

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

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

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.