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Environment and Energy


Overarching aim

To reduce the environmental sustainability impacts of our construction and refurbishment project.


  • To establish and implement a standard for sustainable construction at the University of Cambridge that is context specific and is considered a leading approach in comparison with our peers.

  • By 2020, for 95% of buildings (by floor area) to have a minimum Display Energy Certification rating of 'D'.

The University of Cambridge aims to manage its buildings and estate to promote environmental sustainability through its operations, its physical structures, and by enabling positive environmental behaviours.

We have a commitment to maintain the grounds and buildings of the University estate in an environmentally sensitive way, from the planning and delivery of new capital projects to the chemicals used by our grounds maintenance teams.

Built environment

Cambridge’s capital building programme, spearheaded by the Estate Development Section in Estate Management (EM), aims to enhance the already-impressive University estate. The Environment and Energy Section work with EM and external colleagues to deliver on carbon and energy reduction targets, travel plan requirements, and water efficiency commitments.


The University’s new buildings are certified through BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method). This is a comprehensive environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings, which includes aspects related to energy and water use, the internal environment (health and well-being), pollution, transport, materials, waste, ecology and management processes.

Find out more about our BREEAM policy.

Heating and cooling policy

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

Low carbon and renewable technologies

The local planning authority requires that all new University buildings are equipped with renewable energy generation that will supply at least 10% of the building's annual energy requirements.

Currently, this has been met in a number of ways across Cambridge’s varied estate. There are several photovoltaic (PV) installations on University roofs, feeding directly into the new building and thereby reducing the amount of electrical energy required from the national grid. Several ground source heat pumps aim to reduce the need for and demand on gas boilers. Natural and passive ventilation systems encourage natural air flow for fresh air and cooling. Solar shading maximises the potential for natural light but reduces the glare and additional heating from direct sunlight.