Green Week

Green Week 2023 kicked off on Saturday 20th May with a picnic in the Botanic Gardens with the APES (Animal, Plant and Environment Society).

In the evening the Music Society raised money for Cambridge Community Kitchen in an open mic night showcasing the wonderful range of Darwin’s musical and artistic acts.

Monday saw a celebration of Darwin’s student-run gardens with, with a very well-received selection of homemade pestos and dips, vegan wines and Darwin-grown produce

The highlight of the week was the waste tour on Tuesday, where a group of Darwin and Wolfson students, staff and Fellows travelled to the Thalia Recycling plant in Waterbeach to see first-hand what happens to our recycling.

The College hosted Green Formals on both Wednesday and Friday, while Thursday’s lunch in the DIning Hall offered vegan options from plant-based food vendor InCurious.

The week was brought to a close on Friday with a pop-up vegan wine tasting in the Richard King room.

Joshua Bickler
DCSA Green Officer

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Catering Sustainability

Darwin College recognises its responsibility to provide healthy and sustainable food to our staff, students, and visitors.

This statement sets out the College’s intentions to minimise the impact of its catering operations on the environment, and its approach to promote sustainable and ethical practices and consumption. Our latest Sustainable and ethical statement was agreed in 2020 and sets out the following:

Summary of Aims

  • Reduce ruminant meat.
  • Reduce the consumption of dairy products.
  • Promote the consumption of more plant-based foods.
  • Reduce food wastage.
  • Source food and other products locally where possible.
  • Ensure that products are traded fairly throughout the supply chain.
  • Ensure that we provide fish from sustainable sources, limiting the impact on threatened stocks and through the environmental impacts of aquaculture.
  • Reduce single use plastic and reduce the use of all plastic packaging.
  • Continue to implement forward-thinking sustainability best practice.


  • Raise awareness of the benefits to the environment and individuals of the sustainable and ethical statement through communications, training and accreditation applications.
  • Monitor performance against the statement aims, including setting sustainable food targets, and reporting regularly on performance against these.

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Journey to zero carbon

In 2019, Darwin began to compile and analyse the data of its Scope 1 and Scope 2 ** carbon emissions.

In February 2020 the College Council created an Environmental Infrastructure Working Group to continue this work, and to report back to the College with a comprehensive analysis of the whole estate.

This report breaks down to a building-by-building level, the different challenges of removing carbon emissions generated by the use of gas to heat and provide hot water.

As we look to setting a target for zero carbon emissions on Scope 1 & 2, the College is working with other parts of the Collegiate University to innovate and collaborate on solutions that will form part of a schedule of works over the coming years.

** The GHG Protocol categorizes direct and indirect emissions : Scope 1: All direct GHG emissions. Scope 2: Indirect GHG emissions from consumption of purchased electricity, heat or steam.

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Green Impact Awards

Darwin has been participating in this annual scheme for a number of years and received a Gold Award in 2020 and 2021. Individual projects have been singled out for special recognition by the University, and Catering Manager Ivan Higney was recognised as a ‘Sustainability Hero’ in 2023.

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Heating of College buildings

In 2022 an extensive consultation was conducted with student representatives of the DCSA.

The practice of how and when to heat College properties has evolved over the years.

In light of the College’s sustainability objectives and in the context of a global energy crisis which has driven energy prices to record highs, heating times were assessed across the estate.

Following the heating season, a review was conducted and further consultations were held with all stakeholders to see if adjustments needed to be made to the new timetable.

The following strategy has been agreed for 2023:

  • Heating in College buildings will be turned on during the week commencing 23rd October 2023.
  • In October and November, and then again during March and April, all buildings other than the Study Centre will be heated from early to mid-morning and then from late afternoon into the evening.
  • During the coldest months of December, January and February, the heating will be left on longer into the late morning, and will come on earlier in the afternoon.
  • The Study Centre will be heated throughout the day so that students working in College may do so in a warm environment.

These discussions have taken place in the context of the extreme rise in the cost of electricity and gas, but also reflect the need of the College to reduce energy use as part of our sustainability goals.

Darwin is planning an ambitious programme of infrastructure projects, including the possibility of using water source heat pumps to completely remove gas boilers from the main site. Over the summer we have continued the roll-out of secondary glazing across a number of rooms on the main site, and have developed plans to change all the windows and install heat pumps in an off-site hostel next summer.

As energy consumers we need to be as responsible as possible in how we use electricity and gas. Some solutions to reducing demand are technological, while others involve upgrading the building fabric, but behavioural change plays a key part. This strategy is an extremely positive step in the right direction.

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