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Environment and Energy


The Centre for Mathematical Sciences was the host for this year’s Green Impact Awards on 21 June. Green Impact is the University’s flagship sustainability programme, teams who participate in the scheme work hard all year to make their department or College as sustainable as possible. This year, there was a record level of involvement with 29 departmental teams and 13 College teams receiving 47 awards – a new record!

It truly has been a mammoth effort, so it was great for this effort and the importance of the Green Impact programme to be recognised by the Vice–Chancellor of the University, Prof. Stephen Toope who presented all of the winners with their awards. In his opening address at the award ceremony, Professor Toope commented on the 2,332 sustainability actions which had been completed by the teams present, “each of which makes a small but overall powerful and tangible impact upon the University’s environmental stewardship”. The Vice-Chancellor was clear that sustainability is an important issue for the University, and emphasized that one of the things that’s important about the green impact awards is in how it raises day to day consciousness around the importance of environmental stewardship. He concluded by saying:

“Congratulations to every one of you, and also thank you - because what you are doing is helping to drive the University in the right direction.”

Green Impact teams received awards in the Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum categories depending on the number of sustainability actions they had completed, while dedicated awards were also handed out for sustainability work in Laboratories and Colleges. All of the awards recognised efforts to improve environmental performance through simple good-practices in areas such as recycling and energy use, as well as broader environmental improvements in areas such as biodiversity and sustainable food.

Some teams who had completed a Gold award or higher in previous years had spent the year focusing on their own bespoke sustainability projects known as ‘Excellence’ awards. These saw concerted efforts in areas such as reducing plastic waste in laboratories, trialling new recycling infrastructure, and overseeing the expansion of charity recycling schemes.

Also awarded were a set of ‘Special Awards’ to recognise teams and individuals who had gone beyond the requirements of their Green Impact category to inspire and motivate. These saw recognition of a community outreach project, an ongoing initiative to reduce laboratory energy use, while Mick Young from CMS (pictured below) and Leah Gibson from Meet Cambridge were awarded with the much-coveted ‘Environmental Hero’ award.

Environmental Hero

Figure 1: Mick Young recieving the 'Environmental Hero' award from Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope

The final presentation of the evening was for the winner of The Cambridge Carbon Challenge. This competition saw staff and students put forward ideas to tackle the University’s big sustainability challenges, this year focused on the University’s ever-growing problem of carbon emissions from flying. The winner of this award, Bryn Pickering, proposed an extremely innovative and ambitious concept to promote virtual conferencing in a unique way.

The Awards were a fantastic showcase of the many  ways that staff and students have engaged with sustainability and found solutions for the challenges where they work. Once the awards had been handed out, teams had a chance to socialise and enjoy some nibbles. Even though the next year of Green Impact action does not begin until October 2018, the conversation was firmly focused on what teams are going to tackle next in their places of work and study. With that energy we cannot wait to see what Green Impact 2018/19 will bring!

Photographs of the event are available here and a full list of winners can be found here.

If you would like to be part of this great programme and put forward a team for next year, get in touch.