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Sustainability Guide

What you can do to make Exeter more sustainable.


  1. Being energy friendly
  2. Understanding our heating systems
  3. Waste management
  4. Living sustainably in Oxford
  5. Sustainable gifting
  6. How to get further involved in sustainability in Oxford and Exeter

Being energy friendly

be energy friendly graphic

  • Lights off: turn off the lights if you’re the last one to leave the room
  • Boil less: only boil as much water as you need (this could save £3 per day per kettle)
  • Switch off: turn off appliances at the socket when not in use, and try to keep electric heaters off for good (they consume up to £1 of energy per hour and can increase the risk of fires)
  • Layer up: bring a jumper for comfort during the winter months and close windows and doors (except during periodic air circulations) – for more information see the next section
  • Power down: turn off your computer and screen at the end of the working day if you’re not working remotely, and make sure your computer is set to ‘hibernate’ if you’re away from your desk

For more information see the University of Oxford’s Be Energy Friendly page.

Understanding our heating systems

The key three rules of thumb for efficient heating are:

  1. Open windows fully for 5 minutes to get fresh air and then close them again so that your room remains nice and warm.
  2. Turn the heating off (if possible – see below) when you leave your room. This is a major saving as heating requires a lot of energy.
  3. With traditional radiator valves only turn the heating to 2-3 as this will keep the temperature at a nice and comfortable level of around 20C. Anything above that will tend to mean you overheat, causing stuffy air and wasted energy.

Exeter College has various different heating systems from traditional gas boilers to modern solar thermal heating and both ground- and air-source heat pumps. Have a look at your site to understand how our heating works.

Turl Street

The main College site is heated through various big boilers using gas to heat water. Exeter is working on a decarbonisation plan to change this. However, while we still use gas, turning the heating to freeze setting (the snowflake symbol) whenever you leave a room empty will lead to substantial savings of both gas and carbon emissions. To help in this, the boilers are also set to standby mode at night and from midday until the early afternoon.

Cohen Quad

Cohen Quad has underfloor heating meaning that the temperature only changes very slowly over the timespan of a day and stays constant, which is why having the temperature set to a sensible setting between 18-20C makes most sense in Cohen Quad.

Exeter House

Exeter House has a mix of gas boilers, an air-source heat pump and ground-source heat pumps. This means that some buildings have underfloor heating whereas others have traditional wet radiators meaning it is a mix of Turl Street and Cohen Quad approaches to heating.

Stapledon House

Stapledon House has the most advanced temperature control system in College as the radiators are fitted with smart thermostat valves which help to save energy. Please use the QR codes to turn off the heating when you do not need it and keep temperatures to a healthy 18-20C.

Waste management

Waste hierarchy: waste prevention, reuse, recycle, energy recovery, and disposal

Preventing waste is the first step to reducing waste issues. Consider which items you need and act accordingly. When you no longer require items which can still be used, reusing them is the best way to go about this. You can find a big bin for clothes, textiles and shoes and one for small and medium-sized electrical goods on Cambridge Terrace, just off St Aldate’s (the street with Christ Church on it) and a 10-minute walk from the College gates. Furthermore, at the end of the year in Trinity Term, Exeter organises a charity collection for things you no longer need but are perfectly usable. Look out for information about the British Heart Foundation Collection towards the end of Trinity.

For items that cannot be reused, the next step is to check whether they can be recycled. Exeter College collects dry mixed recycling, mixed glass recycling and food waste separately. Only the remaining non-recyclable and non-hazardous items should go into general waste.

Dry mixed recycling

All containers must be clean, empty and dry.

  • Paper and cardboard
  • Drinks cans and food tins
  • Plastic bottles, containers and trays with a recycling triangle on them saying PET 1, HDPE 2, PVC 3, PP 5, or PS 6
  • Do not add black food trays
  • Do not add items with food or drink contamination

Food waste recycling

The cleanest and greenest option for disposing of food waste.

  • Out-of-date food
  • Leftover scraps and peelings
  • Tea bags and coffee grounds
  • Meat and fish (raw or cooked)
  • Do not add packaging

Mixed glass recycling

For all types of glass packaging.

  • Glass bottles (all colours)
  • Glass jars (without lids)
  • Glassware
  • Do not add heat-proof glass (e.g. Pyrex)
  • Do not use sacks or bags to hold the items

For more information and an accessible version check out the University’s Waste Guide and SELECT – Waste Management & Recycling Services.

recycling waste graphic

Living sustainably in Oxford

For detailed guides on how to live sustainable in Oxford see Living Sustainably in Oxford and Sustainable Consumption Guide.

Some simple tips are to:

Sustainable gifting

  • Go Fairtrade: crafts, wine, chocolate, flowers, cosmetics, olive oil, and other Fairtrade products are perfect gifts. You can find a wonderful variety in Oxford Fairtrade shops. You’ll be giving twice, including the producer who earns fair payment for their products
  • Support a worthy cause
  • Buy a gift with added value such as products made from recycled ocean plastic, purchased from a charity shop or social enterprise
  • Give eco-friendly items that will support a more sustainable lifestyle, such as a bee house or reusable products
  • Give an experience such as tickets to the theatre
  • Use a swapping platform to give away your old toys and receive pre-loved ones

Some more ideas for a sustainable Christmas are below:

How to get further involved in sustainability in Oxford and Exeter

The easiest way to get involved in sustainability at Exeter College is to join our Green Impact Team by contacting the Sustainability Coordinator at

Lastly, if you are interested in getting involved in sustainability in Oxford more widely you can have a look at the Students Organising for Sustainability Website, the Sustainable Students Oxford Website, as well as the Oxford SU Sustainability Hub.