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Environment and Energy

To mark what would have been Volunteers’ Week in the UK, we’re taking this opportunity to celebrate our fantastic staff volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to help make the University a more sustainable place.

Since October 2019, teams of staff have completed over 2,000 (!) sustainability actions as part of the University’s Green Impact scheme. We’d like to take a moment to thank everyone involved, including our network of over 100 staff sustainability volunteers (known as EECs), for their amazing work. 

As Jess Haskell, Environmental Engagement Coordinator, says:  

Sustainability at Cambridge goes so much further than the twenty or so of us in The Environment and Energy Section. For years, staff across the University and Colleges have been sharing their passion, dedication and knowledge to help reduce the environmental impact of the University – and this is all in addition to their day jobs! It is in absolute privilege to work with, and learn from, our staff volunteers and I’m constantly awed by the sustainability progress they make. I’d like to personally thank all our volunteers, you bring so much fun and creativity to your roles and make working towards a sustainable future feel like a real team effort. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

If you’d like to get involved with sustainability at Cambridge, either as an individual or as part of a team, there’s a volunteering opportunity for you. 

Join over 100 others and become an Environment and Energy Coordinator (EEC)

EECs are a network of staff volunteers who provide a local focus point for environmental and energy issues within their departments or buildings. Usually contributing between two to four hours a month, they encourage their colleagues to make small changes to everyday work practices that collectively make a big difference across the University. EECs at Cambridge come from a range of backgrounds and disciplines, but we provide bespoke training opportunities to help volunteers develop their understanding and knowledge of sustainability issues. Find out more about the role and how to get involved here



"I'm really glad that I took the chance to become an EEC. It's great being part of a network of committed individuals from around the University and there have been some really useful training opportunities too [...] I would recommend it to anyone!" - Mike Horscroft, University Information Services




"I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as an EEC [...] it's been fantastic to see colleagues from all disciplines grasp the opportunity to come together over environmental issues, whether this is for gardening sessions, walking challenges or simply finding common ground in comparing tips and tricks to keep their new desk plants alive!" - Hayley Sherlock, Department of Land Economy




"Being an EEC is great as it gives you the opportunity to create environmental awareness within your own department but also gets you involved in University-wide initiatives." - Lieneke Makaske, Department of Oncology





"Being the EEC for the Maxwell Centre has allowed me to connect with our local community and look for ways that we can help to reduce our environmental impact [...] I have developed a greater knowledge of what we can each do, through work and at home, to take positive steps forward." - Robert Foster, The Maxwell Centre





"Being part of the EEC network has meant that I've been able to implement energy saving processes into the faculty and being able to see these small changes make a difference is so rewarding! It has also allowed me to utilise my passion for the environment and combine it with my day job." - April McIntyre, Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics




Team up and take part in the University’s Green Impact scheme

Now in its eighth year, Green Impact is the University’s environmental accreditation scheme. Staff and students form a team within their department or College, and progress through an online workbook of sustainability actions. The scheme runs October–April every year and is a great opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of your department and achieve a nationally recognised award. Whether you’re just getting started and could do with some guidance, or if you’ve already been working hard to improve sustainability in your workplace, there’s an award level for you. 

Last year a record 30 departmental teams and 13 College teams took part. Wildflower meadows were planted, electric vehicle charging points were installed, and 25 departments and 13 colleges eliminated single-use plastic cups – and that’s just a taste of what teams achieved!  

You can find out more about Green Impact and how to get involved on our website.



"It has been inspiring and incredibly rewarding being a part of the dedicated Green team in the Cambridge Archaeological Unit over the last two years. Among the Green changes implemented, we have introduced six new recycling schemes, the composting of all our food waste, run two charity events and planted a garden. CAU staff enjoy working together and it has really boosted morale and camaraderie." - Sam Smith, Cambridge Archaeological Unit



"At the beginning, Green Impact seemed daunting but, once we became familiar with it, it became a great source of inspiration. The scoring system really helps encourage you to implement small actions and the enthusiasm has spread all over the building! Members from all walks of life at IfM, from students, post-docs, admin staff, catering and building managers, and the head of Division have all pitched in - this has been the best part of Green Impact!" - Curie Park, Centre for Industrial Sustainability, IfM




"My favourite element of Green Impact is the challenge of making our laboratories more green - we're tied by a lot of regulations (e.g. surrounding waste disposal), but there are lots of small actions you can take such as re-using and recycling pipette boxes, turning off unused equipment and closing the sash on fume cupboards after use. Simple but effective! We're now looking at polystyrene box recycling and reducing our treated water waste." - Katie Hall, Centre for Brain Repair



"My background is in Sustainable Development, but that isn't my day job, so helping embed some 'Green Impact' at work is pretty rewarding. INI has a small team of about 20 staff, so it's perhaps easier for us to get buy-in from others. Senior Management have been supportive and we're looking forward to working on some more biodiversity initiatives once we are back at the Institute." - Clare Merritt, The Newton Gateway to Mathematics