Conferences and Functions
Downing College is committed to working in a sustainable way, complying fully with environmental legislation and officially approved codes of practice and making continued efforts to promote sound environmental management policies and practices in all areas of its activities.
In June 2014, Downing College was given a Gold Award for its outstanding performance as a Green Tourism site for conference business.
The College was scored across ten different categories to judge its green credentials, from the use of environmentally-friendly paper, cleaning products and toiletries to the encouragement of wildlife and support for cultural activities.
The Assessor highlighted a number of areas of excellence including the Howard Theatre as a sustainable conference venue, excellent adoption of low energy lighting throughout the Domus, the use of good local, organic, vegetarian and Fair Trade options in catering and the provision of electric vehicle charging points on site.
In addition to being awarded GTBS Gold, Downing College participates in a number of environmental initiatives within the University of Cambridge.
It regularly tops the Cambridge University Environmental Consulting Society (CUECS) league table and last year won Switch Off Week, an annual student drive to conserve energy by switching off appliances and lights.
Downing College has a number of conference facilities that meet sustainable
The Howard Theatre is an environmentally-sustainable building with ground source
heating and cooling; solar panels fitted to the Welsh slate roof providing an additional
water heating source; an external structure made from Ketton stone for thermal
efficiency; and rainwater harvesting used to flush the toilets and maintain the
The Howard Building has recently undergone an extensive refurbishment
programme with a major emphasis on energy efficiency and reuse of existing
materials, including installing double-glazed and draught-proof windows, with ‘K’
glass providing energy efficiency and sound-proofing; insulating the roof space;
replacing all lights with LEDs; and installing more energy-efficient boilers.
Griphon House, a pre-war building which was constructed in the 1930s with original
Art Deco features, has been extensively refurbished and brought up to date,
including the installation of solar panels on the roofs.
Recently Downing College installed a solar–powered photovoltaic (Solar PV) array
on the large and unlisted roof of Battcock Lodge which is being converted into 78
student rooms and an Art Gallery.
Flora and Fauna
Although Downing College is located in the middle of Cambridge, it sits in 20 acres of gardens and woodland with a wealth of flora and fauna.
A range of initiatives have been implemented to encourage wildlife in the gardens
including bird boxes throughout the grounds, half sponsored by the RSPB and the
remainder supplied by the College; a diversity of plants, trees and flowers to
encourage birds, bees and insects; a Rose Garden behind the East Range, which is
an attractive area for birds and insects, with a bird box, bird feeder, a bug house and
a goldfish pond; and a planting plan incorporating woodland and shady planting.
The grounds are home to a range of wildlife including hedgehogs hibernating in the
leaf ground cover, rabbits, grey squirrels, pheasants and muntjac deer, a resident fox
in the Masters’ Garden and two College beehives, the honey from which is served
at special College events.
Downing College Catering uses local suppliers wherever possible, sourcing organic seasonal food from sustainable sources located within a 50-mile radius of the Domus.
The suppliers currently used provide: meat, sustainable fish, locally-grown fruit, vegetables, salads and herbs, local game, free range eggs, local cheese and deli produce, dry goods and Newmarket Sausages.
The College also has its own herb garden, from which are sourced edible flowers, courgettes and wild strawberries.
A Green Conferencing section has recently been added to the Conference website, as well as a dedicated section in the College’s Bedroom Folder.
A Green Noticeboard, located near to the Porters’ Lodge, displays the latest news and developments and invites participation from students, staff and visitors.