Durham University: League table displays dedication to sustainability

That’s a jump of 66 places in the league table which ranks sustainability at UK universities, meaning we are the most improved university.

Changes at the University
We have a dedicated Energy and Sustainability Team, which coordinates environmental initiatives across the University with the help of environmental champions and student representatives.

The team created Greenspace in 2010 to bring together all our environmental plans, policies, and procedures. This program saw the introduction of The Greenspace Movement and our first Greenspace Festival this summer.

They also organise the annual Green Move Out scheme, which in 2020 during covid-19 was Highly Commended in the Green Gown Awards in the Student Engagement category.

The scheme encourages students living in University or private accommodation to donate unwanted items to local charities to be reused or sold, fostering a strong ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ ethos across the student community.

More recently, the team created an app which allows staff and students to gain points by logging activities across a range of areas, such as energy and water waste, travel, biodiversity and health and wellbeing. The top 4 individuals can win a £20 voucher each month, for a local shop and teams win a £200 donation to a charity each term.

On top of this, the team worked incredibly hard to swiftly achieve a platinum award in EcoCampus, which is an environmental management scheme for higher and further education.

Next steps
We’re always developing new ways of thinking to shape a better future for people and our planet. Despite rising through the league table, we will not be complacent and understand there is more we can do.

Sustainability plays a part in new buildings and we’re pleased to say that our new Maths and Computing, Teaching and Learning, and Sports Centre were built to one of the highest BREME specifications for sustainability.

Work continues with the Carbon Trust to identify ‘hot spots’ for us to focus on, and just this summer we appointed three student interns to analyse energy consumption in our highest consuming buildings. The Carbon Trust has calculated a ‘Science Based Target’, aligned to a 1.5oC warming scenario, and we are now looking to develop a carbon management plan to meet the target.

We have recently become a corporate member of the Institute of Environment Management and Assessment (IEMA), giving us access to online training courses for our staff environmental champions and updates to existing courses for both staff and students.

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