How the Language Centre achieved the Bronze and Silver Green Impact awards:

This is a follow up to our previous post where we let you know about the Language Centre being awarded two Green Impact awards at the ceremony back in June. I know a few people were intrigued as to what we did to achieve these awards, both at the event and afterwards. Whatever department you’re in, it’s easy to get involved, and great to know that you’re making a difference to the environmental impact of the whole University.

So here are a few of the criteria for the Bronze and Silver awards and what we did to achieve them:


B001 – Energy
Either the department doesn’t have any air conditioning or, if it does, within the last 12-months it has proactively taken measures to encourage staff to keep the temperature settings at 24 degrees Celsius.

How achieved:
We put thermometers in all rooms and notices by AC units asking staff to keep temperature setting at 24 degrees. We also put a notice in weekly newsletter asking tutors not to use AC when windows are open and to open windows in the first instance.
B003 – Energy
Either the majority of staff in the department are aware that they should be switching PCs and monitors off overnight to save energy, and the vast majority do so, or all PCs are set up to automatically hibernate then subsequently shut down after no more than 30-minutes of inactivity when no user is logged in.

How achieved:
Computers are on a timer across the building and switch off after 30 minutes, and we put frequent reminders in newsletters to ask tutors to switch off equipment after using.

B010 – Procurement
The department has organised a stationery amnesty during this year’s Green Impact programme, where all staff bring unused stationery from their workstations back to the stationery cupboard.

How achieved:
Email sent to staff 5/12/13: “As part of the Green Impact scheme it is recommended that we do not keep excessive stock of stationery. The production and delivery cost of stationery add negatively to the environment. Obviously, it also makes economic sense not to buy products we already have. Could you therefore please have a look in your cupboards, drawers and shelves and take any surplus stationery items to the photocopier room on the ground floor. Our communal stationery cupboard is always well stocked. If you need something not currently in the cupboard, please write it on the list on the front of the cupboard and we will order it with our next stationery order.”

B013 – Waste & Recycling
Photocopiers are set to duplex printing and black and white as a default.

B015 – Waste & Recycling
The department has made printing from the majority of PCs duplex by default.

How achieved:
All PCs are set to print double-sided from the photocopiers by default.
Emails are regularly sent to staff to ask them to print double-sided. There are notices by the photocopiers and our weekly newsletter also asks staff to print double-sided.

B018 – Waste & Recycling
The department has calculated the total number of photocopies it has made in the last 12-months or extrapolated data and estimated the cost.

How achieved:
We run a spreadsheet of copy totals and allocate each tutor and each team within the Language Centre a code so we can track who makes the most copies in a year. We also encourage staff to share materials electronically rather than in hand-outs where appropriate.



S002 – Embedding & Communication
All new staff are formally inducted on relevant environmental issues within their role.

How achieved:
Recycling stations are pointed out to all new staff as part of their induction, environmental issues are addressed in the staff handbook and relevant staff have meetings with the Departmental Administrator to ensure all environmental topics are addressed. Regular reviews ensure all staff are fully compliant with the Departmental environmental plan.

S004 – Embedding & Communication
Either the department has run its own environmentally-themed event for departmental staff within the last 12-months, or it has one planned to take place within the next 6-months.

How achieved:
The Travel to Work team visited us to discuss safer cycling, demonstrate how to fix bikes to railings to keep them safe and to sell the discounted D-locks to interested students. The event was a success!

S007 – Energy
Within the last 6-months the department has carried out a basic walk-around to identify areas that are being heated unnecessarily and taken action to save energy as required. Areas which are regularly overheated and cannot be controlled by the department should be reported to facilities.

How achieved:
Our Technical Officer regularly checks the heating requirements of the building and even comes in at weekends and during the building’s closed periods to adjust heating. When rooms are not used for a period of time the heating is turned off. As part of the annual health and safety inspection we check and discuss heating issues. Our heating system will be modernised as part of a refurbishment programme later this year.

S010 – Procurement
Either the department does not buy any tea, coffee or sugar or, if it does, it is all Fairtrade certified. NB: This only refers to tea or coffee bought with departmental money, not products bought by staff.

How achieved:
We have sourced Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance coffee for our existing vending machine, and are currently in discussion with suppliers for a new machine to ensure a range of choices that will all be Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance goods. All coffee and tea bought for staff consumption is Fairtrade sourced.

S011 – Procurement
When purchasing food for meetings the department ensures that it meets at least two of the following:
• Where possible the produce is local;
• Where possible the produce is seasonal;
• Where possible the produce is organic certified;
• Where possible all fish is MSC certified;
• All eggs are free-range or Freedom Food certified;
• The majority of the meat is free-range or Freedom Food certified;
• The majority of food provided is vegetarian.

How achieved:
We have written to M&S to find out which of their products are free-range or freedom food, and if their fish is MSC certified. Any food that is not will be sourced from a different supplier from now on. At least 50% of the food we provide for our events is vegetarian and we buy from local shops and food outlets where possible.

For our most recent staff lunch we asked Charlton House to cater for us. They are one of the University’s preferred suppliers, source their food ethically and take part in the Red Tractor scheme.

S016 – Waste & Recycling
If the department has provided hospitality for staff or visitors in the last 12-months if it has provided reusable crockery, cutlery and drinking vessels.

How achieved:
We have a large cupboard with plates, cups and glasses which we use for all functions.

S019 – Water
Either the department does not have urinals, or if it does all have been fitted with water saving devices that are working, where feasible.

How achieved:
The urinals are fitted with timers and sensors, so water is only used when necessary.


Although this list is not exhaustive, you can see that a lot of the criteria are very simple and achievable, and several are probably being done in your department already. If you’re currently also at the University of Oxford, contact Estates to find out how to get involved. If you’re at another University, you can check whether you already participate in the scheme here.




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