St Mary's College is an academic community comprising 280 residential undergraduates, forty year-round residential postgraduate students, up to ten residential academics and nearly fifty full and part-time staff. On top of this residential community we have an additional 360 undergraduate and forty postgraduate students who live outside College but return regularly for cultural, social and academic events. We also have an active Senior Common Room of nearly 200 associated academic and administrative staff.
In addition to housing and supporting our academic community, St Mary's acts as a venue for university-wide and commercial trade, both non-residential during term time and residential during undergraduate students vacations. The size, scale and range of our activities which run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for nearly 52 weeks of the year therefore have the potential to create a significant environmental impact.
To minimise our environmental footprint we have a well defined and coordinated approach to reduce consumption of energy and other resources, minimise waste, and recycle and reuse where at all possible. Our grounds and gardens also offer significant opportunities for supporting biodiversity and facilitating environmental sustainability.
Our environmental agenda consists of three elements
- Reduction in resource use
- Responsible waste disposal
- Promoting sustainability
1. Reduction in resource use:
Awareness - In a community of nearly 1000 individuals, with 330 residents, the cumulative impact of energy profligacy or inconsiderate waste disposal is significant. Our starting point for resource reduction is therefore enhanced awareness and the development and maintenance of a green culture promoted by:
- Development of a culture where every small contribution can be amplified to make a significant difference.
- Environment Awareness days which are scheduled every Saturday during term time, each with a different focus, such as 'switch it off'.
- Clear signage in public areas as well as student bedrooms encouraging energy saving behaviours.
- Engagement of representatives and champions from the JCR, MCR, SCR and staff in all environmental issues.
- Regular communications and updates on our energy reduction performance as a community.
Electricity - As a residential building with over 300 study bedrooms together with a range of communal spaces operating 24 hours a day the potential for electricity wastage is high, as is the potential for savings. In combination with our drive to encourage greater individual responsibility for energy reduction the College has taken the lead in a number of initiatives:
- All lighting bulbs throughout the College are low energy bulbs.
- Shared student pantry facilities with kettles and efficient fridges are available to all students; fridges and kettles in individual student bedrooms are not allowed. Not only does this ensure a significant saving in energy consumption but reduces the number of white goods and promotes a greater sense of shared community through the communal facilities.
- The replacement of equipment with energy efficient models wherever possible. The new commercial kitchen dishwasher is one such example.
- Continual review of energy reduction opportunities, such as installation of timer or movement sensor switches in corridors and bathrooms as practical.
- External lighting is necessary in some parts of the College grounds for safety and security but the use of timer switches and close monitoring of operation.
- An opportunity for significant savings by replacing our 400 always on emergency lights with maintained emergency lighting is being explored.
Gas - Heating and hot water for our buildings is provided by gas. Our elegant Fergusson building was built in the late 1940's and the Williamson building was built in the 1960 and although recently refurbished, neither building offers the most energy efficient construction. However we have taken a number of measures ahead of longer term solutions to minimise our gas consumption:
- All sash windows have been fitted with silicone draught exclusion.
- All radiators have been fitted with individual thermostatic valves to provide better local control of room temperature. Prior to the fitting of these heating regulation was provided through corridor mounted thermostats which did not allow the control of bedroom temperatures.
- Replacement of the old boilers in the Fergusson and Williamson Buildings with energy efficient boilers has now been completed.
- The Williamson building roof was recently replaced and properly insulated.
- We follow the University policy of switching heating off between set times and dates with local control for manual override in areas of the building if needed.
- Continual review of energy saving opportunities, such as improving insulation and draught proofing with installation as and when practical.
- Long term plans to refurbish the Fergusson building will include further improvements in energy efficient heating, installation of double glazing and light sensors to corridors and communal area's.
Water - As a residential building with over 320 residents our use of water for cooking, washing and toilets is potentially considerable, but offers a number of areas for savings and we have implemented the following:
All toilets have been fitted with water saving cistern hippos.