Sustainability: Reducing our Impact on the environment

Updated April 2021

At St Edmund’s College we recognise our environmental impact and strive to manage and reduce it; the College is always looking for new ways to be as green as possible. This means:

  • Providing opportunities on site to reduce waste to landfill through reducing the need for single or limited use items and encouraging efforts towards reuse and recycling
  • Pursuing energy saving Activities include investing in replacement equipment, which is more energy efficient and working with new energy efficient systems in new buildings. Energy is purchased via a Cambridge Colleges Consortium, where energy purchasing is backed by renewable certificates.
  • Working with suppliers to make informed decisions regarding sourcing of food. Preference is given to local supply. We have adopted the Red Tractor Food Standard, seek to minimise food wastage and have committed improving provision of non-meat options.
  • Encouraging members to engage with our greenspace, offering opportunities to grow food and to be involved in the development of the gardens – striving for both social and environmental impact. We have a tree replacement policy.
  • Investing in supporting more sustainable transport choices among College members.

The College’s investments are held in the Cambridge University Endowment Fund (CUEF). In October 2020 CUEF issued a statement on divestment. CUEF aims to divest from all direct and indirect investments in fossil fuels by 2030 as part of the University’s plan to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2038.

This policy is reviewed annually at the Estates Committee and reported to Governing Board. The College endeavours to work with the student body to implement actions and encourage ideas.

If you would like to comment on this policy or make suggestions, please contact: Joy Ferreira (Head of Domestic Operations) on We recommend that students coordinate their requests via their CR Green Officer who can liaise with the Head of Domestic Operations and the College’s Green Fellow, Dr Kristen MacAskill.


Waste Reduction
  • All communal kitchens are supplied with recycling bins. In 2019, food waste bins were introduced to every shared kitchen.  Our large bin stores encourage recycling, with the majority of waste bins being for recycling.  Clear signage has been displayed in all kitchens & in communal spaces to encourage the proper disposal of waste. A new recycling bin has recently been provided in our coffee shop.
  • Onsite we have a Salvation Army clothes collection container for the donation of unwanted garments & shoes, available in the college overflow car park. As well as battery recycling containers at the main Reception.
  • Single use plastic has been reduced in our servery and coffee shop. This has been with the introduction of more canned drinks, only using biodegradable disposable cutlery and plates, and using compostable containers.
  • In our Main Reception and Mount Pleasant Halls Porters’ Lodge plastic has been reduced by introducing refillable glass bottles for water consumption.
  • To encourage reusable containers, we offer a discounted price on our coffee if a reusable cup is used. We have St Edmund’s College KeepCups available for purchase, and actively encourage usage of these with displays at the Main Reception, Mount Pleasant Halls Porters’ Lodge, coffee shop and are regularly noted in the internal newsletter to members.
 Energy Saving
  • Mount Pleasant Halls – our new accommodation site 2019 – achieved BREEAM Excellent, together with EPC ratings of A or B across all four buildings, which make up the development. A combined heat and power plant was included to enable Mount Pleasant Halls to provide its own heat and power; and solar shading provided where appropriate to reduce solar-gain and overheating, removing the need for an air-cooling system. LED light fittings, energy efficient lightbulbs and PIR sensors have been used throughout. As part of the natural ventilation strategy, noise-attenuated air vents were utilised. These included a feature to pre-warm the fresh air entering the building, reducing the amount of heat lost to the atmosphere. This reduces the energy used to heat the rooms, reduces heat loss and creates a more pleasant living environment.
  • We are on a continual improvement programme for lighting throughout the college buildings. Lights are replaced with LED bulbs when replacement is due and where light fittings will allow.
  • Being part of the wider colleges’ energy purchasing group means the large majority is supplied from green sources. In 2018 stickers were put into each bedroom, which explain how to monitor the usage of heat.
  • To conserve energy, College washing machines and dryers on our main site have been replaced with more energy efficient models. The same machines were installed at our Mount Pleasant Halls accommodation site.
  • A number of large kitchen equipment items have been replaced during 2019 and planned for 2020. This equipment will be more energy efficient.
  • The College is mindful of the sustainability of local sources, good farming and fishery practices, and is happy to provide organic, free range and local produce where it is available and cost effective. Our catering is run in conjunction with Thomas Franks. Thomas Franks works toward reducing their environmental impact and operate their own sustainability policy (appendix. A).
  • The College does what it can to minimise waste. This involves planning how excess food can be used in other meals if there is greater supply of some dishes than there is demand, but always with food safety in mind.
  • We ensure that animal welfare standards are adhered to for any animal produce purchased and insist on Red Tractor Assured standards as a minimum, where applicable.
  • There is a new focus on vegan meals, where our Chefs provide vegan menu options 80% of the time in cafeteria meals. We are looking at ways to advertise vegetarian and/or vegan options for each of our Formal Halls and Guest Nights.
Greenspace and biodiversity
  • At St Edmund’s we are proud of our gardens, which are diverse, unrestricting (students are allowed on the lawns), and celebrated with numerous outdoor events. Recently the Master, fellows, staff and students got involved with planting hundreds of new bulbs around the college site. Encouraging engagement and to increase the plants and flowers we have.
  • In the heart of our fields is an apple orchard, where students and staff have open access to collecting the fruit to use in their home cooking, as well as the apples being given to a charity for the production of cider.
  • Our students have their own well-tended garden where they grow vegetables. They hold fresh produce sales to other college members.
  • For every tree we have to cut down we replace somewhere else on site.
  • Across the whole site, there are up to 600 spaces for secure cycle storage, with nearly 50% of these being secure indoor cycle storage in Mount Pleasant Halls. Along with a further bike shed development increasing the total by 17 spaces,completed 30th March 2020.
Cambridge Carbon Map
  • The Cambridge Carbon Map is the pilot project of the “Big Cambridge Climate Change Conversation” (BC4), a new group launched in December 2019 that aims to bridge the divide between the city and the University regarding climate action. This will bring together town and University organisations to create a public map of carbon emissions for the city of Cambridge. It will be accessible to anyone with a mobile phone and will allow you to compare carbon emissions for organisations with a simple tap on your mobile screen.We are lucky to have students who are involved in this project and are currently drawing data from our resources to map St Edmund’s carbon emissions.


Appendix A (Thomas Franks Sustainability Policy)