It’s Environment Week from 14 to 18 March, and what better time to highlight some of our sustainable hidden gems – features of our Colchester campus that help us to reduce our impact that you might not know about.

Buildings and Energy

Essex Business School (EBS) is the UK’s first carbon neutral business school. Sustainability is at the heart of its design and operation, and it has 18% lower carbon emissions than standard buildings as a result of solar panels making use of natural light and heat circulation. The central courtyard is open to the sky and contains a pond, which collects roof surface rainwater, which is in turn used to irrigate the indoor winter garden. The building has also been orientated to make maximum benefit of solar energy, both through passive heat gains and photovoltaics solar energy. The 500sqm solar array offsets over 40 tonnes of CO2 annually, generating enough electrical energy to offset over 20% of the building's carbon emissions.

Across our Colchester Campus we have over 2,000 solar panels generating 2.5% of our electricity needs - or enough electric to power 300 homes. We have solar panels on buildings across the site including our

  • Multi Deck Car Park
  • Sports Centre
  • Sports Arena
  • Network Building
  • Albert Sloman Library
  • Essex Business School
  • Parkside A
  • Parkside B
  • Parkside D
  • Innovation Centre.

We are continually developing the measures we have in place to be more energy efficient and use less energy; to date, 87% of our lighting on campus has been upgraded to LED (or equivalent), and we have replaced and installed 47 boilers over the last 5 years.

Food and Drink

Essex Food outletsEssex Food outletsEssex Food outlets serve ethically-sourced and fairly-traded Union Coffee and Lavazza coffee, as well as Fairtrade teas. Union Coffee work directly with farmers, to ensure that they are paid a fair price to help them to invest in their farm, families and workers. Along with their partners, they work long-term to constantly improve the quality of their coffee and growers’ livelihoods. They have also donated over 500,000 cups to FareShare,  a charity dedicated to fighting hunger and food waste in the UK.


We have great cycling facilities, including 1500 cycle parking spaces, cyclelockers, and two cycle fixing stations with bike pumps. Dr Bike offers free cycle safety checks and adjustments for staff and students during term time, and the team also provides servicing, repairs and affordable second-hand bikes.

The University has a fleet of ten Electric Vehicles (EV) that support day to day operations in Soft FM, Maintenance, post deliveries and Essex Food. For EV drivers commuting to campus, we have six charging bays in the North Towers car park, and six in the multi-deck car park.

Our Colchester Campus is well connected to other areas by multiple bus routes, and staff and students can get the First Bus Unicard at a significant discount.

Biodiversity and Grounds

Wivenhoe Park is home to 18 major habitats. The grounds of the campus retain relict acidic grassland, which is a scarce habitat type. Taller grassland, scrub and lakes, are home to an abundance of invertebrate fauna. We also have insect harborages, hedgehog houses, duck houses and bird boxes.

The Grounds team use 100% biological fertilisers on the sports pitches. As part of the climate and ecological emergency declaration and new Sustainability Sub-Strategy, our Grounds team are now using 95% electric hand tools. They are already using hedge cutters, leaf blowers, strimmers and pedestrian mowers. They also have a future plan to extend to All-Terrain vehicles (ATVs) and tractors.

For more information on sustainability at the university, check out our blogs about SSS priorities.