We aspire to be a leader in environmental sustainability, and to achieve both our Net Zero Carbon and Biodiversity Net Gain commitments by 2035.
Energy and water
- 100kW of photovoltaic solar panels are installed on the roof at Park End Street, supplying energy for use within the building or back into the national grid.
- The Thatcher Business Education Centre at Park End Street is equipped with solar-thermal water heating, and ground source heat pumps that supply up to 70% of heating needs.
- Energy-efficient LED lighting have been installed across the estate, alongside motion detectors to turn off lights automatically when rooms are not in use. With the replacement of compact fluorescent lighting to LED across all sites, we expect to cut our energy costs by 62%.
- Energy use is monitored and controlled through a Building Management System producing monthly data.
- Optimisation of the estate’s energy use and heating and cooling patterns in continue to result in annual carbon savings of 77 tonnes.
- Electricity is provided to the School through a green energy tariff.
- Plans to install electric vehicle charging points in our Park End Street car park are currently being discussed.
- Rainwater harvesting from our roofs collect water for toilet flushing, gardening and other non-potable water use.
Waste and recycling
- General waste and recycling rates are monitored on a monthly basis. None of our general waste goes to landfill. Our residual waste is transferred to a self-sustaining combustion chamber and turned to renewable energy to power homes and businesses.
- Food waste is separately collected and sent to a local biodigester facility producing biogas and fertiliser.
- In 2019, disposable coffee cups have been removed from automatic coffee machines in staff areas. Around 500 staff were issued with reusable coffee cups and water bottles, which saves thousands of disposable cups every year from going to waste.
- All our office printers are set to black and white and 2-sided printing by default. The introduction of Follow Me printers across the estate helped us achieve a reduction of up to 51% in costs and 27% in volume between 2018 and 2019 alone.
- In 2019, our donation of 192 pieces of IT equipment to the Turing Trust saved 48 tonnes of CO2 emissions, which is the equivalent of planting 119 trees.
- Participation in Plastic Free July, where we encourage staff and students to go plastic free for a whole month, is one of the ways we encourage our community to contribute individually to climate action..
- Bike parking and showers are available for staff and students commuting by bicycle.
- Our yearly participation in Cycle September encourages sustainable modes of travel to work and promotes an active and healthy lifestyle among staff.
- We record our staff domestic and international flights and offset these residual emissions through our carbon offsetting scheme.
- The green roof in the Thatcher Business Education Centre at Park End Street covers 50% of the total roof area of which improves biodiversity.
- Egrove Park's 37 acres feature extensive biodiversity which includes 12,000 trees, a wildflower meadow managed under an Environmental Stewardship scheme, thirty nest boxes, invertebrate and small mammal habitats, and beehives. We monitor these woodlands and replant new trees every few years. Some of the native species we plant are English oak, wild cherry, silver birch, spindle, sweet chestnut and beech.
- The trees in Egrove park serve as natural carbon sink which removes between 144 to 250 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere yearly.
- New beehives and birdboxes have also been installed at our Park End Street site. Our older beehives in Egrove Park produce a small amount of honey which we gift to our guests as souvenirs.
- Our catering team has achieved a bronze certification under the Soil Association’s Food for Life standard, and sources 'RSPCA Assured' eggs, sustainable fish, Red Tractor meat, and Fairtrade sugar and black tea.
- We use compostable, unbleached food boxes for takeaways. Prior to the pandemic reusable food containers were available to purchase in our dining room for staff and students to use. All plastic bottle drinks in our canteen have been replaced with drinks in highly recycled aluminium cans.
- A trial we conducted in 2019, where we switched to a largely plant based, no-beef menu in our dining room, resulted in a 41% greenhouse gas savings. Continuing to offer this low emission menu for the long term is estimated to produce a savings of 60.5 metric tonnes of CO2 each year, which is equivalent to 208,593 miles of driving or 8.33 trips around the globe each year.
Green Impact scheme
We are a member of the Green Impact Scheme, a United Nations award-winning programme involving many organisations and universities across the globe, designed to support environmentally and socially sustainable practice within organisations. In the UK, a Green Impact scheme is run by the University of Oxford and National Union of Students, which involves staff, students and faculty working collaboratively to improve sustainability in the workplace. In 2018 we were awarded a Gold Green Impact Award and again more recently in June 2021. These awards demonstrate our continued efforts and high standards of operational sustainability in the School.
While we work to reduce our emissions, there are certain areas where our activities inevitably lead to an unavoidable footprint. We actively take responsibility for what we continue to emit by monitoring and calculating our emissions associated with operations and travel and offset through high-quality carbon credits. We work the with award-winning ClimateCare to fund high impact projects around the globe.
The projects we support include:
- water filters in Kenya which we supported until 2019
- pioneering clean cooking projects in Bangladesh and Ghana
- wind turbines in India
ClimateCare projects deliver positive outcomes around the world on many levels. For example the clean cooking projects not only cut carbon emissions, they also improve lives by halving fuel bills for families and reducing exposure to toxic fumes. By cutting fuel requirements the projects also reduce deforestation, protecting precious habitats. Our offsetting credits make real reductions in amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere that would not have happened otherwise.
While offsetting is one of our responsibilities in this field, we will continue to play our part in meeting carbon reduction and other environmental commitments,and work towards our goal of achieving net-zero carbon and net-positive biodiversity by 2035.
University of Oxford's Sustainability Strategy
We are committed to to play our part by reducing the carbon footprint of our operations as much as possible, and offset those which we cannot avoid. We actively participate in the the University of Oxford's new sustainability strategy, which details the University's priorities for achieving net-zero emissions and biodiversity net gain.
Oxford University has announced landmark plans to divest formally from the fossil fuel industry. As well as divesting its endowment from fossil fuel companies, the University has also asked its endowment office, Oxford University Endowment Management (OUem) to engage with fund managers to request evidence of net zero carbon business plans across their portfolios. There will also be a new member of the Investment Committee, with an additional focus on climate-conscious investment.