St John’s wins prestigious Gold environmental award

“It’s very encouraging to see students, staff, and Fellows of St John’s recognising and responding to the climate crisis in diverse and dynamic ways”

St John’s has scooped a Gold award in the Cambridge Green Challenge for the College’s debut entry.

The University of Cambridge named St John’s College as one of the Gold winners of the annual Green Impact Awards. The awards encourage everyone working or studying at the University to take action to reduce their environmental impact and for Colleges, Departments and Faculties to implement a range of sustainable policies that lead to positive change. 

The University carried out a detailed audit of environmental measures at St John’s based on green criteria including energy use, sustainable food, waste management, recycling, travel to work, biodiversity, building management, green procurement and communication.

The auditors said they were ‘particularly impressed’ by the wildflower meadow at St John’s, and energy efficient refurbishments of communal student areas. They also praised the College for briefing all new and existing Housekeeping staff on environmental procedures. 

Students working on the allotment
Students tend crops on one of the new allotments. Credit: Nordin Ćatić.

Helen Murley, Domestic Bursar, said: “The team should be very proud of their impressive achievement in gaining a Gold Green Impact Award at the first attempt. The award recognises the hard work and dedication of many in the College on this important agenda over not only months but, in some cases, years. Achieving this level has only been possible because of the excellent contributions and support from a range of staff, students and Fellows. It is truly a College community effort.”

Vicky Jeffries, Maintenance Payments and Utilities Co-ordinator, organised the St John’s entry with the help of Jessica Tearney-Pearce, postgraduate student. Vicky said: "I'm absolutely thrilled St John’s has been named as a winner of a Gold environmental award. As a College we should be very proud of all the amazing things we do and use this Gold award to spur us on to do even more.”

Vicky gathered data for the College’s entry which detailed green initiatives across St John’s. Everything from recycling schemes for food waste in the Catering department, to electrical recycling procedures in the Maintenance department were logged. Jessica collected the information for student environmental initiatives including the introduction of allotments in the gardens of student houses. The pair were both speakers at the annual staff briefings at the College earlier this year where they took part in a panel discussion about sustainability at St John’s. Staff were told about existing initiatives at the College, asked to contribute their ideas and encouraged to support ongoing schemes. 

Jessica Tearney-Pearce joining in the hard work on a student garden allotment. Credit: Nordin Ćatić.

Jessica said: “It’s very encouraging to see students, staff, and Fellows of St John’s recognising and responding to the climate crisis in diverse and dynamic ways. The award emphasises College’s commitment to make a positive difference and complements many other new and ongoing initiatives.”

Helen added: “I would like particularly to thank Vicky and Jessica for their leadership in pulling together the award submission and look forward to working with all the team to enhance the environmental performance of St John’s College still further in the weeks and months to come.”

Announcing the Gold College award, Jessica Haskell, Environmental Engagement Coordinator in the University’s Estates Division, said the auditors ‘strongly recommend’ that St John’s now works towards the Platinum award – the highest level. She said: “Congratulations for keeping sustainability on the College’s agenda. We’re absolutely delighted that you have achieved a Gold Colleges award in your first year with Green Impact!”

St John's third-year English undergraduate Amy Bottomley was one of 48 student auditors involved in assessing this year’s performance of other Green Impact teams across the University. She encouraged St John’s to set up its own team after volunteering as an auditor last year. Amy said: “I hope that this award gives recognition to the amazing work that's already happening and encourages the College to push even further with its sustainable initiatives."

Gold Green Impact Award
The College's Gold Green Impact Award certificate.

Read St John’s Environmental Timeline

Published: 04/06/2020

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