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Environment and Energy

The launch of Green Impact 2019/20 saw over 100 staff and students fill the stunning setting of the Sainsbury Laboratory on 22 October 2019. Now in its 8th year at the University of Cambridge, Green Impact has been going from strength to strength. The audience made up some of the latest members of a growing community helping to make a positive environmental impact at the University.

An online workbook of clear, achievable actions helps Green Impact teams work towards a Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum or Excellence award which recognises their efforts. As Jess Haskell, the University’s Environmental Engagement Coordinator, who presented at the launch says:

“We know that over two thirds of staff say they’d like to do more to help the environment at work, and this is reflected in the record participation in our Green Impact initiative last year. Green Impact supports those who are unsure how to begin making positive environmental changes, but also helps teams get together with their colleagues and bring about truly creative solutions to environmental issues”.

Last year’s record participation included the University’s greatest-ever number of both departmental (30) and college (13) teams, with participants collectively completing an incredible 2,300 actions to reduce the environmental impact of their places of work and study.

Current Green Impact teams from the Isaac Newton Institute, University Information Services (UIS) and the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience (PDN) shared their tips, progress and challenges with the audience and highlighted the breadth of projects which can be initiated through Green Impact. From organising butterfly counts, switching from plastic to glass milk bottles and creating bespoke recycling posters, to arranging litter picks and installing bird feeders, these three teams have already achieved so much.

In his opening remarks at the event, Professor Ian Leslie, Senior Adviser to the Vice-Chancellor with special responsibility for Environmental Sustainability, discussed the complexities of the University’s new target to reduce the University’s energy-related carbon emissions to zero by 2048. While this target is a bold statement of intent, Professor Leslie was clear that there are other areas that will require further action, including ‘Scope 3’ emissions from University activities like purchasing and flying. Green Impact teams can play an important role in finding new ways of tackling these challenges. For instance, to achieve their 2018/19 Excellence award, PDN quantified the flight-related carbon footprint of their department. Sarah Foster presented the results and noted that PDN’s collective 460 flights were responsible for 215 tonnes of CO2 a year. Interestingly, 51% of these flights were within Europe so, as Sarah suggested, sustainable travel options for shorter trips could be an area for University departments to explore further.

The actions of Green Impact teams can add up to make a real, tangible difference. Last year alone, 25 departments and 13 colleges eliminated single-use cups, 15 departments and colleges made a biodiversity improvement and five colleges installed electric charging points. The energy and ambition of the University’s Green Impact community continue to grow and their enthusiasm was reflected in the audience, many of whom came forward after the event brimming with sustainability ideas. We know that some of you were unable to attend the event so for those of you who missed us, please download our slides.

Interested in taking part in Green Impact?

With awareness of sustainability issues growing by the day, we’re looking forward to another record year for Green Impact at the University and we’d love to have you on board! If you're not sure how to get started, read our guide for new teams. Alternatively send us an email, and we’re always happy to come and speak to interested individuals or departments. We've also got a 'going for a Bronze award' webinar, see details below!

For previous participants

Our guide to Green Impact for existing teams is a handy reference for teams who took part last year and want to know what's changed.

Upcoming Green Impact events: