Building usage trials

As part of our plans to reduce costs and lower our carbon footprint, we are operating a series of trials over the 2023-24 academic year to close, reduce usage or restrict access to specific buildings across campus where we see low occupancy patterns at certain times of the year.

Departments are being invited to opt-in to take part in these trials and these pages are designed to provide more information for those people who will be impacted by the changes.

As we progress through the trials, we are reviewing the benefits of cost and carbon savings against the impact to those who use the spaces. We will continue to monitor the findings and adjust plans accordingly. You can read more about the outcome of previous pilots at the bottom of this page.

Forthcoming closure trials

Easter break 2024 

The next optional closure trial is planned for the Easter vacation period 2024, from close of business on Friday 22 March to Sunday 7 April inclusive.

We recognise that the Easter vacation experience will be different to the Winter break, and that semester commitments, workload and student contact may mean some spaces are used differently. To understand any implications, our Estates team is liaising with Heads of Schools, Department and Directorates, and their operation teams, to explore willingness to opt-in. 

We hope that as many of you as possible will be able to support this trial. If your department opts to take part with either full or partial closure of buildings, you will find updated information on this page, including how to book alternative office/desk provision and answers to frequently asked questions. We will also provide updates in the Staff Digest, about the final opt-in arrangements and signposting to further information.

Specific buildings

We are also considering occupancy patterns of specific buildings, with the potential to close on Fridays to extend the weekend’s low-energy usage.

Heslington Hall has been suggested as a trial, and following conversations with many users of the space, we can confirm a trial will begin from Friday 1 March. We would like to thank everyone involved for their flexibility, and those colleagues in the Room Booking Team and the Department of Technology, Estates and Facilities who we are working with to help facilitate the trial.

Bring your staff card during closures
Ensure you have your staff card with you at all times - you may need it to access buildings that are in limited operation, or if you plan to work from one of the bookable shared office spaces (see below).

Frequently asked questions

Building closures or restricted access will fall under three categories:

  • Closed: no access expected. 
  • Limited operation: access available, but heating will be at overnight/weekend settings.
  • Open: the building is operating as normal. 

Where there is specialist space within buildings, where small numbers of individuals need to work, temporary heating arrangements may be possible to allow the rest of the building to remain on a reduced setting.

Alternative bookable spaces have been arranged for you to work from in either the Library, Market Square Building or Providence House. These are in addition to the normal rooms that are still available to book on Planon on a day-to-day basis.

We understand that working in a different office can feel unsettling sometimes, particularly if it is a building you haven’t visited before. We have created this full guide to office closures for staff, with details on how to access buildings, what facilities are available in and around each building, and the fire evacuation routes and assembly points.

To book one of the dedicated spaces in the Library, the Market Square Building or Providence House, please use the Desk Booking System to see what desks are available for the date you need. The system will show you the IT equipment available at each desk.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. On the landing page, click 'Schedule' from the top bar, and then 'Bookings' from the drop down menu. 
  2. A calendar view will appear with details of each desk.
  3. Scroll to the very top of the page (above the calendar), and select the building where you would like to book a desk from the drop down menu. The calendar view will now display the availability of all desks within the building selected. 
  4. Hovering over the desk number will display a description of the desk, including the IT equipment available on it and whether it is in a shared or private office. 
  5. Click on the desk you wish to book.
  6. In the next window, check the dates and times for your booking, add your name to 'Title of Reservation' and select 'Create' to finalise your booking.

Your booking has now been made and the details can be found under ‘Schedule’ then ‘My Calendar.’ Here you can edit or cancel your reservation if needed. 

Please remember to cancel your booking on the Desk Booking System if you no longer need it.

The Desk Booking System will display a description of the desk, including the IT equipment available on it and whether it is in a shared or private office.

If you have any specific workplace requirements, such as equipment or a particular workplace adjustment that you need to be re-provided elsewhere on campus, please discuss this with your line manager in the first instance.

If they cannot help you resolve this, then they should contact  

If you have a room already booked in a space that is closing over the trial period, the Room Booking Team will contact you with an alternative space shortly. Please remember to cancel any other bookings for that space, such as audio visual equipment or room setup changes.

The way that this is arranged unfortunately depends on the building in question. Please contact Campus Safety on +44 (0)1904 324444 to arrange access.

Buildings that are closed or in limited operation will still have power and low level heating, and will be scheduled to be brought back up to temperature on reopening.

We have worked on the basis that all communal student areas such as Colleges, the Library, study spaces and sports centres will remain open during the pilot.

If you are due to meet with a student during the closure period and cannot use your usual venue, please book an alternative office or space on campus using Planon.

Providence House - contact

Market Square - contact

The Library - contact or visit the Library Helpdesk at the main entrance to the Library.

If for any reason IT equipment isn’t working please contact IT Support.

Outcomes of previous trials

We are reviewing the impact of closures and key learnings, to inform any future trials.

Winter trial outcomes

The Winter vacation trial went well, saving 400,000kWh of energy, 80 tonnes of carbon and £70k of energy costs. You can read more details in the wrap-up report.

We are taking on board staff feedback, and with a longer lead in period to the next trial, we will work to address known issues, such as the improving the desk booking system for bookable spaces.