Durham University launches sustainable living programme
(9 October 2006)
Durham University, one of Europe’s leading research-led universities, launched a Sustainable Living Programme which it hopes will save both energy and money for each of the colleges in its distinctive community.
The programme at Durham University is a joint venture between the institution’s sixteen colleges, its students (represented by college Environment Representatives), the Durham Student Union, and the University administration. It is led by a sustainable energy expert who oversaw the creation of a similar programme at Harvard University which saved the U.S institution over $100,000 annually after one year. The bespoke programme is unique in the UK as it relies on the students to share environmental information with their College peers. Most of this shared information is about sustainability, comfort, health, and efficiency issues. The students also provide suggestions to the College and University administration about infrastructure and policy-improvements that will remove barriers to student conservation. Each of the student environment representatives will work with the Durham Student Union Environmental Officer and Dr. Antje Danielson, Sustainable Energy Advisor at the University’s Earth Sciences department who oversaw the creation of a similar programme at Harvard University. This support team will work to streamline the student initiatives. Following an intensive workshop of networking and training the student environment representatives will meet every two weeks to coordinate environmental campaigns, designed to be consistently implemented across all sixteen of Durham’s Colleges. The support team will provide the students with campaign background information and advice. Dr. Danielson, who is also Deputy Director for Sustainability in the Centre for Research into Earth Energy Systems (CeREES), was chosen to lead this effort because of her experience in starting the Resource Efficiency Program at Harvard . She showed that this kind of programme could potentially reduce the CO2 emissions of the University by 500 tonnes and generate £40,000 in savings in the first year alone; the equivalent of the electricity consumption of 120 average households. Michelle Crawford, Bursar of Collingwood and Butler College and Sustainability Rep for the College Bursars commented on the changes in Durham University: ”The pace of change within Durham University towards environmental issues has been fantastic”. Dr. Peter Hopkinson, Director of the Bradford University Ecoversity project, who is cooperating with Dr. Danielson, echoed these thoughts and acclaimed the Durham programme as an important model for other universities to follow.