In 2019 Exeter College formed a Sustainability Working Group to consider policies and initiatives that could make the College’s operations more sustainable and ultimately help the College reach net zero carbon. In 2023 this Working Group was made a College committee, formally incorporating it into the College’s structure of governance. The Committee is chaired by Dr Robert Montgomery, Exeter College Supernumerary Fellow and an Associate Professor of Biodiversity and Sustainability in the Department of Biology. The Committee’s other members are current Fellows and student representatives (including JCR and MCR Presidents as well as Ethics and Environment Reps), as well as staff such as the College’s Sustainability Officer (a role which we believe to be the first dedicated sustainability professional within Oxford’s colleges and private halls). The Sustainability Committee reports to the College’s Strategy Committee, which in turn reports directly to the College’s Governing Body.
The Committee has developed a list of projects that the College is working on to improve the sustainability of its operations. Its emphasis has been on evidence-based practical steps the College can take. The Committee has discussed and made suggestions on a variety of ways the College can reduce its environmental impact and contribute towards a sustainable future. In this purpose, it is supported by the Green Impact Team, which meets regularly to work on making Exeter College more sustainable. The Committee meets at least once a term to monitor progress and consider further recommendations. Areas the Committee has considered include energy, waste, biodiversity, food, travel and transportation, investments, and carbon offsets.
The Sustainability Committee recommended to the College’s Strategy Committee that the main priorities for 2023/24 should be:
- Energy and water savings
- Carbon accounting
- Beginning work on long-term building decarbonisation plans
- Waste reductions to no more than 4 tonnes/month
- Improving recycling
- Acquiring an electric van to replace the existing diesel van used by the maintenance team
- Acting on opportunities to improve biodiversity
- Maintaining Gold status in the Green Impact scheme