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Every year, the Sustainability Team are flooded with nominations as Green Impact teams let us know who has inspired them the most throughout the year. Sustainability progress is, of course, down to the people behind it. The people who give their time, skills and energy to improving the environmental performance of their workplaces and communities. The Green Impact Special Awards are intended to recognise and celebrate these people, with two of our 2020 award winners also being recognised at the national level for their actions.

We know that being sustainability champions isn’t all glamorous, it can often include seemingly endless meetings, emails and to-do lists in addition to daily jobs or studies. Our Special Awards are a way of letting them know that their efforts really do make a difference, not just to the environment but to the people who surround them. We’re delighted to announce the 2021 Green Impact Special Award winners and hope their stories inspire you as much as they did us!

Student Leadership award

Winner: Luisa Deragon, alumni of Girton College 

The winner of the 2021 Student Leadership award goes to Luisa Deragon for co-founding an innovative system for introducing reusable takeaway containers in Cambridge Colleges. Through the RE.USE system, takeaway meals are offered in reusable containers each with a unique QR code. These get scanned and logged into the student’s account – just like borrowing a book from the library. Luisa has demonstrated exceptional innovation and leadership throughout this project, with Colleges including Darwin and Girton already implementing the scheme.

Highly Commended: Anushka Chandrawat, Girton College

Anushka Chandrawat, also from Girton College, has been Highly Commended for not only being the College’s first-ever elected MCR Green Officer, but also for setting up the College’s first Green Society to create a student platform for sustainability.

Environmental Improvement award

Winner: Cambridge Enterprise

This year’s Environmental Improvement award goes to Cambridge Enterprise for their work to improve the sustainability of their IT systems. Movement of document storage to the cloud has meant they can shutdown servers, storage, network services, power supplies, air conditioning and more for good at the Hauser Forum. This action has saved the equivalent of 96 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year, as well as facilitating efficient working. The unwanted equipment has been reused by the Department of Pathology and the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Highly Commended: Danita Pearson, Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

97% of the University’s waste comes from single-use items and six of the University’s top 10 most common single-use items are from labs. As you might imagine, the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology generates biological and chemical waste streams, along with mixed plastic, glass, paper and more. Despite an increasing workload, Danita Pearson has singlehandedly developed a new system for managing lab waste that allows for safe disposal, efficient training of new staff and students, and the recycling of items including pipette tips, plastic from biological waste and nitrile gloves. Danita’s hard work is now being trialled in labs and will be evaluated by safety and technical committees before a full rollout.


Sustainability Hero award

Winner: Abby Burrage, Department of Radiology

              Gemma Dunsmure, Department of Public Health and Primary Care

Both Abby and Gemma have been integral to the success of their respective Green Impact teams. Abby is an apprentice whose ideas and energy have set up a new Radiology Green Impact team this year, as well as contributed hugely to the Department of Surgery’s two 2021 Green Impact awards. Her initiative and enthusiasm have been instrumental to her team, and to their sustainability progress. Over at the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Gemma Dunsmure has somehow managed to balance a full-time job, home schooling and sustainability action during a pandemic. Gemma is an active member of the Environment and Energy Coordinators network, and has set up recycling schemes, organised gardening clubs and reached out to local partners to build the department’s capacity for sustainability action. Thank you to both Abby and Gemma for inspiring others and leading by example. 

Highly Commended:     Gary Dougan, Head Chef, Robinson College

                                           Gary Wren, Head Chef, Magdalene College

                                           Ivan Higney, Catering Manager, Darwin College

This year our Highly Commended category has been dominated by catering professionals who have gone above and beyond the remits of their roles. Ivan has been heavily involved with the University’s sustainable food work, as well as moving to compostable packing in Darwin and helping coordinate food donations, volunteers and the delivery of thousands of meals during the pandemic. Gary Wren from Magdalene has improved the sustainability of catering from procurement to waste, redesigning menus to lower food waste whilst still producing appetising meals. Over at Robinson College, Gary Dougan has been a leading figure in the College’s Green Impact team since 2015 and will take on anything from recycling, compost, meat-free meals, responsible purchasing and reducing waste to landfill. Our thanks to these three champions of sustainable catering for always thinking outside the box and never taking the easy option if it isn’t the sustainable one.

Innovation for Engagement award

Winner: Anna Brown, Cambridge Assessment

              Ellen Mackay, Cambridge Assessment

Ellen Mackay and Anna Brown worked together to create an environmental bingo card with sustainability actions that Cambridge Assessment colleagues could complete from home during the pandemic. The initiative reached over 480 colleagues and the bingo card was used to focus week-long mini competitions, with prizes sourced from local sustainable suppliers. The Cambridge Assessment Green Impact team were kind enough to share their design with others in the sustainability network at Cambridge and the idea has been hugely popular! Want to give it a go or design something similar for your department? View the Cambridge Assessment bingo card here

Highly Commended: Andreza Carvalho

This has been the ninth year of Green Impact here at the University of Cambridge, and has been the first year that we have welcomed an overseas team. We would like to commend Andreza Carvalho for her work to support Cambridge Assessment’s Madrid office in their Green Impact efforts, and for developing sustainability newsletters that span between countries!

Community Action award

Winner: Darwin College

Social sustainability is an integral part of Green Impact and any environmental sustainability progress. This year, well over 36 charities were supported by the efforts of Green Impact teams and the actions of just four teams raised over £16,000 for charity.

By working with students and the Catering Department, Darwin College have led the way by providing food for those who need it most. A community fridge and a ‘Too Good To Go’ scheme mean that food near its sell-by-date can be taken up for free by Darwin members or by those who may be in food poverty in Cambridge. The food is also packaged in reusable containers, helping to reduce food-related waste even further.

Thank you and congratulations to all our 2021 Special Award winners!