Sustainability at St Antony's

Sustainability at St Antony's

With the climate crisis becoming ever more urgent, St Antony’s College is working towards our ambition of achieving net-zero emissions as soon as practically possible.

Staff, students, and Fellows are working together to identify areas across the College estate where we can greatly reduce our impact on the natural environment, manage resources that we do impact in a sustainable way, and conserve and enhance biodiversity across our site. To do this we have undertaken a detailed assessment of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions footprint, supported by external consultants, to help us understand our current baselines for energy and water use, waste, recycling, and biodiversity. Overall, the College’s estimated baseline (08/18-07/19) emissions in across all three scopes add up to 2,093 tonnes CO₂e (CO₂ equivalent). The College’s scope 1 and 2 baseline emissions are 533 tonnes CO₂e. These emissions can all be attributed to the combustion of natural gas for heating, hot water and cooking (stationary combustion).*(See the bottom of page for details on methodology).

We have identified the areas in which our negative impact on the environment is greatest and, through this, agreed to target GHG reductions in the following priority areas:

  • Energy use and reliance on gas (which currently accounts for around ~500t CO₂e or 25% of our total emissions)
  • Food (in particular to reduce meat and dairy consumption, with potential reduction opportunities of ~65t CO₂e)
  • Travel (including air travel, with potential reduction opportunities of >100t CO₂e).

We have agreed a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Action Plan targeting these areas and we have recently appointed a dedicated Environmental Sustainability Officer for the College. An early priority for the Environmental Sustainability Officer will be to assess the priorities set out in the plan and establish clear timescales for each.

The University of Oxford has set 2035 as their goal for net zero carbon and biodiversity net gain, as a College we will endeavour to achieve these same goals. An early priority for our Environmental Sustainability Officer will be to establish clear timelines for achieving net zero carbon and biodiversity net gain. 

* To calculate carbon emissions we used data collected from expenditure on travel (flights, rail, cars), water, natural gas, electricity, and refuse. Emissions from these categories were calculated by consultants using appropriate emissions factors estimated by Defra sourced from the Agribaylse 3.0 database. For emissions from food, spend-based data was used along with the University of Leeds emission factors.

Our progress

Read more about our sustainability efforts:

Energy reduction

A key area we have identified in which our negative impact on the environment is greatest is energy use and reliance on gas (~500t CO₂e). 

We are undertaking a full building energy audit across our estate and will put in place a combination of measures to improve energy efficiency and a plan to cease gas use. 

Measures we plan to implement: 

  • Introducing on-site renewables where possible
  • Review our management of heating and cooling systems, introducing energy efficiencies wherever possible
  • Upgrading lighting (LED) throughout the estate
  • Increasing insulation in windows, cavity walls, loft spaces


Smart heating:

We have installed a dynamic energy management platform which adapts temperature control to changing occupancy levels across the estate; over 400 smart radiator valves have been installed across student rooms and offices. EcoSync smart radiator valves can detect the temperature of individual rooms, allowing users to keep their rooms comfortable and turn off heating when they leave the room. We have also implemented automatic heating schedules to reduce the number of empty rooms we heat, with predicted energy savings of up to 28% in office rooms and up to 23% in student rooms from scheduling alone.


St Antony’s Green Impact Team has arranged for plant-based milk to be provided alongside dairy milk from now on in college. Oat milk is now provided alongside dairy milk in the Gateway Office, for college meetings, Guest High Table, and High Table. The Combined Common Room coffee machine now offers oat milk only and the Senior Common Room offers the option of either dairy or oat milk. Why oat milk? Find out more here.

We have taken some steps to reduce meat consumption in college. The catering team has established ‘Meat-free Monday’ in the dining hall, and vegetarian meals are offered as a default at St Antony’s High Table. Vegan options are available by request at all common lunch and dinner sittings in the College Hall.



St Antony’s is an international college with seven research centres focused on Africa, Asia, Europe, Japan, Latin America, the Middle East, Russia, and Eurasia. Flights equate to 79% of College travel emissions, with c.300 flights per annum with a total travel emission of c.222t CO₂e.

We seek to address this by reducing the number of short-stay trips and replacing them with virtual meetings or combining them with other events to maximise each trip, flying economy class wherever possible, and considering revisions to College policy, including greater use (and cost) of land-based travel and use of carbon budgets


The College has introduced a cycle-to-work scheme and Bikeability training courses for employees and has committed to ensuring secure, covered, and easy-to-access cycle parking provisions to make it easy and attractive to cycle. Find more information about these schemes here.

We will be introducing a season ticket loan scheme to encourage the use of public transport instead of cars.

We are looking into providing electric charging points to make travelling by electric vehicle easier.

We are now an OxBikes depot, offering a great price for students to rent and buy pre-loved bikes, and also to buy bikes back again when they leave, reducing wastage and unnecessary emissions. Read more about St Antony's partnership with OxBikes.  

Green Impact Team

St Antony’s Green Impact Team is a working group comprising students, staff, and Fellows, led by our Head Housekeeper, Nicole Wyatt. The team works together to implement various initiatives around the college with the goal of making it a more sustainable place to live and work.

The three main environmental impacts that the team focussed on in the last year were energy saving, waste recycling, and flower planting.

We are proud that our 2022-23 initiatives were recognised with a GoldGreen Impact award, read more here.

Our focus this year is to achieve a Beyond Gold award.


Responsibility for scrutiny of, and support for, environmental sustainability measures lies with the College's Management Executive Team (MET), our key committee overseeing all aspects of the College's operating activities as well as its budget and five-year-plan. The MET reports directly to Governing Body and includes Fellows, students, and College staff on its membership.

Our Green Impact team takes forward day-to-day initiatives geared toward making St Antony’s a more environmentally friendly place. Via the GCR President and the Bursar, the Green Impact Team reports to and requests funding from the MET as required. Ultimate responsibility for agreeing carbon reduction targets, and for the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Action Plan, lies with the College's Governing Body.

We have recently recruited an Environmental Sustainability Officer (Dr. Ellen MacDonald). The Environmental Sustainability Officer is responsible for drafting and implementing a sustainability strategy, managing the delivery of the College’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Action Plan and driving improvements in relation to environmental sustainability.

Managing Waste

The college has implemented a number of waste reduction measures.

We have reduced printing by introducing electronic payslips and switching to a digital-only college magazine.  

The Green Impact team has implemented food recycling in all kitchen areas, reduced the number of general waste collection bins, and increased the number of recycling bins/ glass and food bins. All conference and meeting spaces now have refillable glass bottles with paper cups.

The Housekeeping Team has transitioned to a reusable/refill bottle system for all cleaning products and swapped all cleaning chemicals to a water-diluted system with eco-friendly chemicals, an initiative that has minimised single-use plastic bottles by 80%.

Food Waste

On average 18% of the food purchased by the UK hospitality and food service sector is thrown away, 75% of which is avoidable. We are conducting an audit of our food waste in college, to give us a benchmark before implementing a range of initiatives to reduce our waste, including reducing portion sizes, implementing a training programme for staff to understand the importance of food waste reduction, and making improvements to forecasting and menu planning to limit over-catering. 


The Green Impact team has focussed on increasing Biodiversity in the college grounds in the past year. Their initiatives have included the use of peat-free compost, placing bird feeding stations and bird houses around campus, leaving hedgehog piles and starting to build a hedgehog highway, and planting a wildflower area that will be a bee and butterfly haven as well as providing a beautiful area for staff and students to enjoy.

The College took part in a biodiversity audit run by the Conference of Colleges during the early summer 2021. A group of student volunteers scoured the main site recording land use, soil types, tree species and girths, birdsong and worm numbers. We used online apps for bird (BirdNET) and tree (Flora Incognita) identification. These were a great help to us in learning more about the flora and fauna in our grounds, although accuracy was sometimes an issue – we weren’t convinced that there really was a red-legged partridge on site! We delighted nonetheless in the dawn chorus of doves, pigeons, blue tits, goldfinches, blackbirds and dunnocks. Horse chestnuts predominate around the Old Building, but there is a rich diversity of plants from around the world across the site, very fitting for an international college. Japanese plants such as bamboo, fatsia and wisteria surround the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, while the Investcorp Building is dwarfed by our largest tree, a redwood cedar with a girth of 482 cm. One surprise was that we found no earthworms under the recently re-landscaped quadrangle, which had had only a few weeks to recover from the bulldozers. We hope that biodiversity will increase year on year as we advance sustainability in all aspects of college life.

Investments and Banking

The College supports the Oxford Martin Principles for Climate-Conscious Investment. In line with this, our stated goal, which has the full support of Governing Body, is to move all of our investments to the Oxford University Endowment Management (OUEM) fund. We have already moved 85% of our investments to OUEM and are actively targeting the move of the remaining funds as soon as possible.

OUEM likewise supports the Oxford Martin Principles, and their commitment to working with its investment managers towards Net Zero is set out here, together with the principles and frameworks that they support and use: Net Zero | OUem.

The College is actively reviewing its banking arrangements (March 2023) to ensure that we keep accounts with banks that demonstrate a clear commitment to ESG principles.

Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership

The Conference of Colleges, the body which represents Oxford University’s colleges, has joined the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership. The Partnership have pledged to help Oxford achieve net zero carbon by 2040 for scope 1 and 2 emissions, a goal we share. The partnership provides a forum for organisations based in and around the city to collaborate in accelerating emissions reduction, and we look forward to working with other colleges and organisations across the city to reduce emissions.

Find out more about the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership.

Useful resources

St Antony's is committed to working collectively for a sustainable future. We recognise that the next decade is a critical one for climate action, and that the actions and choices of our community have a huge impact on the College’s environmental footprint. Offered below is a list of resources. Read more to see how you can help play a part in working towards a sustainable future.

Useful resources

University resources on sustainability, including 5 first steps for environmental sustainability and the University’s strategy for reaching net zero and biodiversity gain by 2035.

Useful student guide for living sustainably in Oxford

The Oxford Climate Society, dedicated to connecting and developing informed climate leaders

Guide for businesses and policymakers, hosted by

Follow the student-run Instagram @stantonys_sustainability

Contact the St Antony's Environmental Sustainability Officer Dr Ellen MacDonald at