What the Department Does to Support Green Impact
July 2020: Swift boxes
On Thursday 25 June 2020, three swift bird boxes were installed on the narrow, north facing wall of our main RPC building (outside Richard Hobbs' Office).
Charlotte Thompson-Grant led the project through her voluntary role in the department as Green Impact lead and is hopeful that the boxes will provide these migratory summer birds with some well needed nest sites.
The life of a swift is almost entirely aerial, breaking only to nest briefly, high up in the eaves of buildings. They return to the exact same nest, all the way from Africa, each year. Swifts are in a period of drastic decline with the breeding population down by some 47% between 1996 and 2014, the result of a sustained loss of habitat with modern housing and renovations on old buildings.
Oxford is already passionate about its swift population, with the Oxford University Museum of Natural History being home to many generations of swifts (webcam here). And through the Oxford Swift City project, an eye-catching and unique swift tower was installed in the University Parks in 2019.
Charlotte hopes that this Green Impact project, funded jointly by the department and Sustainability within Estate Services, will lend a helping hand to these incredible birds.
Our department now provides Oat Milk to all its employees, following an oat milk pilot hosted by Green Impact and LEAP. Plant milk is better for the environment than cow’s milk and it is more eco-friendly than other plant milks. Almond milk for example requires six times as much water to grow than oats (Water Footprint Network) and soy milk can be damaging to our ecosystems (WWF).
Green Impact has worked closely with COMPASS, the catering company. The range of vegetarian and vegan sandwiches has now increased and the ordering system is now broken down via vegetarian and vegan sandwiches. We’ll be recording metrics over the next 6 months and hope to encourage more vegetarian ordering for catered meetings in the department.
PLASTIC- AND PAPER-FREE MEETINGS
Jugs and glasses are available in the kitchen and also in the meeting rooms, so there is no need to order bottled water for meetings.
SMC has also approved that meetings be paperless whenever possible. Green Impact also introduced recycled paper in the summer 2019 for all printing and this has been successful.
Our department has a pool of standard & electric bikes available as a means to get to and from external meetings around Oxford. Just pop along to reception to book out a bike.
WARP-it allows University staff to post unwanted (useable) items from University of Oxford, colleges or permanent private halls to share within the collegiate University: warp-it.co.uk
SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL/ VIDEO CONFERENCING
The University is committed to helping staff, students and visitors to choose ways of travelling on a day to day basis that make the least impact on our environment and we promote this within the department via our newsletter. Full information can be found here: https://travel.web.ox.ac.uk/home
Our department also encourages remote attendance at meetings wherever possible and uses a range of video conferencing, including Skype, Go-to meeting and Zoom. The department has also been encouraged to book flights with Key Travel, so that our carbon usage can be logged. Discussion on offsetting and setting a departmental carbon budget will hopefully be taken on board in the future.