Climate and Biodiversity Committee
Balliol’s Climate and Biodiversity Committee was created with the general aim of promoting sustainability, reducing the College’s carbon footprint and improving biodiversity across its grounds. Our committee includes representation from across the College, with members from the Senior Common Room, Middle Common Room and Junior Common Room, as well as key members of College staff.
Balliol members: if you have ideas or observations related to sustainability in the College, we are happy to hear them. Feel free to contact the committee Chair, Derek Moulton by emailing (email@example.com).
In a 2021 biodiversity audit, it was found that Balliol had one of the most diverse assemblages of insects and also of the type that carry out impact ecosystem services. We are committed to enhancing biodiversity around the College grounds, and making Balliol a friendly place for Nature’s small (but hugely important!) creatures. If you walk around the College, be on the lookout for bird feeders, bug boxes, and even hedgehog hotels!
Balliol is lucky to have an Executive Chef who is keenly involved in the sustainability side of food. Food waste has been weighed for many years, with adaptations to numbers and menu being made to reduce the waste. We have changed the nature of meal sign-in so that meat options are not the default, with vegan and vegetarian options becoming ever more present.
We are very interested in reducing the carbon impact of our food and have been working with researchers in the Department of Zoology and elsewhere to look at what we, as a college, need to do to reduce our carbon in the kitchen.
Estates and decarbonisation
Energy efficiency and sustainability are principal considerations with new building projects. For instance, the new accommodation blocks at the Master’s Field have frames made of Cross-Laminated Timber (which is both sustainable and a way of reducing deliveries during construction) and green roofs.
We have also completed an initial phase of installing smart radiator valves (EcoSync) in Jowett Walk Towers 4 and 6. These valves enable occupants to monitor and control temperature from their phones, and prevent rooms from being heated when unoccupied, thus significantly reducing energy waste.
What you can do (Balliol members):
- Turn the lights off when you are the last to leave a room.
- Turn the heating off when you leave your room, and reduce the setting as much as possible. Did you know: every degree decreased saves about 8% on heating costs.
- Close windows and curtains when the heating is on.
- Take shorter showers.
- Only boil as much water as you need.
At Balliol we view it as the responsibility of all College members to be conscientious about reducing waste and recycling wherever possible. The College is committed to facilitating good habits by placing recycling bins in every room, participating in a pen recycling scheme, and also running initiatives to reduce end-of-year waste.
What you can do (Balliol members):
- Familiarise yourself with what can and can’t be recycled.
- Make sure non-recyclable items are only being put in clearly marked waste bins, which may be found at various points around College.
- Place used pens in one of the pen recycling bins, and use refillable pens as much as possible.
- Be on the lookout for our end-of-year charity boxes, and make sure to follow the instructions clearly on what can and can’t be put into them!
Finances and investment
In 2020 the College, with the support of the Junior Common Room, started a divestment plan to reduce its Endowment’s fossil fuel exposure (FFE) as far and as fast as was practicable. The College’s investment managers abide by this policy and report on progress in their regular reports to the Finance Bursar and Investment Committee.
In June 2023, the College was awarded a grant from the Low Carbon Skills Fund to allow us to employ a firm to undertake a heat decarbonisation plan for all Balliol buildings, ranging from the oldest parts of College in Broad Street to the newest buildings on the Master’s Field. The report will be delivered by March 2024 and allow us to plan how we can decarbonise our buildings.
The College encourages sustainable travel and offers a number of schemes to help our staff commute to work in a sustainable way:
- A cycle-to-work scheme, including pedal and electric bikes and accessories.
- Interest-free loans to assist staff with the cost of public transport season tickets, including discounted bus travel passes.
- A car lease scheme for eligible staff, which provides the opportunity to lease a range of electric and ultra-low emission cars in a tax-efficient way.
After the successful trial of a leased College electric van, the College has now purchased a slightly larger electric van. The van is charged on site and is used by the maintenance team to travel between the various College sites across Oxford.
Strategy and action plan
Sustainability news and events
- Green Action Week 2024
- Recycling bins for pens and batteries
- Jowett energy competition 2023
- An electric van for Balliol
- Action on the climate crisis and biodiversity