2020 applicants

Sustainability on campus

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We seek to positively improve sustainability in the learning environment across our campuses, through responsible estates management, partnership working and public engagement. We also take opportunities to use our university sites to support learning for sustainability and use the campus as a living laboratory in the delivery of courses and research. We recognise that reducing environmental impact is best achieved through long term planning and we adhere to building regulations on environmental conversations.

Our buildings

Sustainability features can be found on all three of our campuses:

Solar Panels

We currently generate approximately 2.5% of our own electricity on-site through solar panels, and projects are under way to install more. While we are still relying on the grid, this shift to ‘green’ energy means we are supporting the renewable energy industry and this is an important step in our mission to lower our carbon footprint.

We are working on a plan to increase solar panels on our camps in order to generate 5% of our electrical supply, new installations to be delivered in 2020 – 2021

We have solar panels located across 11 of our buildings at our Colchester campus, these include The Albert Sloman Library, Sports Arena and Knowledge Gateway.

Essex Business School

The Essex Business School building in Colchester is the UK's first zero-carbon business school building and houses our Accounting, Finance and Management and Marketing groups as well as over 2000 students and staff.

It has been estimated that the design of the building reduces emissions by 18% as a result of solar panels, making use of natural light, heat circulation.

The central courtyard is open to the sky and forms a water garden, collecting roof surface rainwater, which is in turn used to irrigate the winter garden planting.

The building has been orientated to make maximum benefit of solar energy, both through passive heat gains and PV energy.

The 500sqm solar array offsets 47.9 tonnes of CO2 annually generating enough electrical energy to offset over 20% of the site's carbon emissions.

New buildings and refurbishment

At the University of Essex we believe in responsible construction and refurbishment.

All our new build and refurbishment projects are assessed for sustainability performance and impacts, with BREEAM ‘very good’ as the minimum rating expected for major building projects.

Any new building must incorporate in 15% renewables, this is increased where funding allows.

We have a preference to invest in FSC certified furniture that complies with our ethical purchasing commitments.

Sustainability Engagement Group

Our Sustainability Engagement Group coordinates and implements the Essex sustainability policy. The group includes both staff and student representatives. We aim to reduce the costs incurred by our University by improving waste, energy, transport and catering management, working with existing human resources and support.

In all our current activities, such as recycling, energy management, habitats, fair trade, transport, and procurement, our University has a considerable carbon footprint, but we are targeting considerable reductions in net emissions of carbon in the coming years. Although much has been achieved, there is much still to be done.

Getting involved on campus

We have a variety of initiatives across our campuses to inform and enable our students, staff and visitors to make changes that have a positive impact on the local environment.

We are constantly exploring ways that we can be more sustainable on campus and can provide funding for revolutionary new sustainability projects, so if you have an idea that you would like to share please contact the Sustainability Team.

Little choices, big changes

Our accommodation is responsible for around 60% of the University’s overall carbon emission figures. Our annual Little Choices Big Changes campaign encourages students to save energy and recycle while living in University accommodation.

Our suggested essential changes are: 


  • Save energy by switching off what’s not in use (including chargers, screens and lights)
  • Boiling the kettle? Only fill with what you need
  • Take a reusable cup to Essex Food outlets on campus and save up to 10p when you buy a hot drink


  • Put tin cans, card and paper, plastic bottles and trays in your mixed recycling
  • Put glass bottles and jars in the glass bin
  • Non-recycling waste and food leftovers should go in general waste


  • Dripping tap? Broken window? Flickering lights? Report faults to the Estates Team
  • Always put your litter in a bin to keep the campus looking beautiful
  • Put wipes, sanitary products, floss, cotton buds etc. in the bin – don’t flush them down the toilet.  

Colchester campus initiatives

  • Books can be donated to the British Heart Foundation at our book bank
  • Our weekly street market takes place every Thursday on Square 3
  • Water bottles can be refilled at one of our water coolers (search 'water' on find your way)
  • We offer recycling facilities across all campus and accommodation buildings
  • We organise an annual Festival of Sustainability
  • The Green Impact programme brings staff and students together, providing a framework to make their departments more sustainable
  • Honey produced from our campus beehives can be purchased at local health food shops
  • Our Summer School students produced an interactive map showing where to buy second hand clothes locally and have garments repaired: Sustainbly Fashionable
  • Bennison Farm deliver local organic seasonal vegetables
  • Walk Colchester organise outings to experience Colchester's backyard beauty
  • Essex Wildlife Trust offer volunteering opportunities at local reserves

Staff sustainability

Student sustainability

Travel sustainably

  • The annual season First UoE bus pass is available for discounted travel to our Colchester Campus and within the Colchester area.
  • The annual season Arriva bus pass is available for discounted travel to our Southend Campus within the Southend area.
  • We run a Cyclescheme for staff, deducting the cost of a new bike and equipment from salary payments enabling a saving of up to 40%
  • The Walking Together email subscription list encourages staff and students to coordinate walking to campus together

Free drinking water


  • We provide free access to drinking water to all our staff and students.
  • To find a water fountain near you, go to ‘FindYourWay’ and type in ‘water’ in this search bar. All places with water fountains will appear, and you will be able to choose the one closest to you. 
  • You can also ask any Essex Food outlets to fill your water bottle for free.
  • All tap water in our campus accommodation is safe and ready to drink.


  • You can find water fountains in various locations around the campus: in every floor of the Gateway and Cliff Town building or in the University Square Common room.


  • You can ask any SU location to fill your water bottle for free: the SU Lounge, the Library or the Corbett Theatre

UoE Sustainability on social media:

Get in touch
Get in touch
Daisy Malt Sustainability Engagement Officer
Telephone: 01206 872826
Ellie Turner Sustainability Engagement Assistant
Telephone: 01206 872950