Sustainability Awards 2022: Office Awards replaced by new Sustainability Framework

A new, best-practice "Sustainability Framework" will be launched to help staff tackle the climate and nature crisis in their workplace.

The Office Sustainability Awards are being retired

About the Sustainability Awards

Office award winners 2018
Office Award recipients 2018

For 10 years, the University’s Sustainability Awards have provided a way for staff and students to make the University’s operations more socially responsible and sustainable, such as by reducing energy use and plastic waste.

Previous Sustainability Awards recipients

By 2019, the Awards had grown to include 45 ‘Office’ Awards and ‘Lab’ Awards teams, plus several other Awards categories for students and local community organisations.

In Spring 2022, the Office Awards will be retired. All other Award categories will remain unchanged.

Increasing our ambition

The Covid-19 pandemic - and an increasingly urgent need to deliver more ambitious action on the climate and nature crisis - gave the University an opportunity to embed the voluntary Office Awards criteria into a new, more holistic Framework.

New Sustainability Framework for Schools

The Sustainability Framework takes the best parts of the Office Awards – its focus on University operations and behaviour change – and widens its scope to include leadership and governance, the student curriculum and community engagement.

We are moving away from seeing sustainability as an optional extra (as the Office Awards were), and towards sustainability best practice as standard across the University.

A new dedicated framework for academic Schools will launch following piloting, with a version for Professional Services Departments following later on. 

The new Frameworks will take a whole School and Department approach, with all areas of the School or Department working to implement the Framework. 

This new Framework will:

  • allow more consistent and cohesive impacts to be achieved, with all areas working towards best practice, moving away from partial coverage 

  • create more links between senior leadership and the groups of passionate staff who champion sustainability initiatives 

  • support continuous improvement, and identify strength areas, with a percentage-based approach rather than bronze, silver, and gold levels 

  • provide Schools and Departments with the clarity needed to determine priorities and make comparisons across the University for planning round submissions 

  • link clearly to the Sustainable Development Goals, in line with Strategy 2030 

Linking to Strategy 2030

Since 2019 and the launch of Strategy 2030, Schools, Colleges and professional services are required to include in their planning round submissions priorities in relation to Social and Civic Responsibility. It is important that appropriate guidance is provided as parts of the University develop their plans and strategies.

The Framework has been designed to support schools translate priority objectives into specific actions and support planning colleagues to be more specific in terms of what ‘good’ looks like.

Strategy 2030: Social and Civic Responsibility

Join the Sustainability Framework for Schools pilot

The new Sustainability Framework for Schools is currently being refined with a small number of Schools.

For those who are keen to join this pilot, get in touch. The Framework will be launched to the remainder of Schools after piloting is complete.

Please note that specific dates were removed in September 2022 as we are now piloting further options, and this will take longer than first anticipated. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on developments.

Sustainability Framework for Professional Services

While the Frameworks are being initially launched with academic Schools, a dedicated version for Professional Services Departments will not be far behind. Adapted to fit the working practices and remit of these areas.

Professional Departments are very welcome to continue or make a start on their sustainability journey by using the Framework for Schools prior to this. Staff are encouraged to get in touch to discuss joining early. 

Existing Office Sustainability Awards teams

For those teams who have continued to work on their submissions throughout the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, progress and positive impacts will be recognised through our final Office Awards cycle. After this, teams will be supported to make the transition to the new relevant Framework. 

For those new to the Office Awards or making a start on their submission, from December 2021 we will be encouraging teams to start looking at the new Framework instead. 

Thank you to everyone who has participated in the Office Sustainability Awards over the years. We believe this new phase will make sustainability progress at the University even bigger, better, and more impactful. 

Graphics and email signatures for past Sustainability Award wins

Lab Awards

With their specialised working environments and practices, the Lab Awards will be continuing as normal, and will also be embedded into the Frameworks. Research and teaching labs are hugely diverse and will receive specialist advice and support adapted to their needs. 

Any Schools or Departments which contain labs will be asked as part of the new Frameworks to ensure their labs participate in the Lab Awards. 

Lab Awards

Other ways to continue working on sustainability

Want to know more?

Send your questions via email. 

General enquiries

  • Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Contact details



Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability
The Boilerhouse
High School Yards

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