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Taking care of our shared environment
(22 June 2020)
Durham is a beautiful place and we’re working to keep it that way. So we’re proud to have met the requirements of the Gold standard for EcoCampus.
What is EcoCampus?
It’s a scheme that helps UK colleges and universities to manage their environment.
We gained Bronze and Silver accreditation in February 2020 and have just received the Gold standard.
But we’re not stopping there. We want to do more and hope to achieve the top level, Platinum, within the next few months.
What is the University doing about the environment?
We have renewable technologies including ground source heat pumps and solar panels on campus so we can generate our own electricity. In 2018/19, we generated over 300,000kWh – enough to power 80 homes for a year.
Students and staff can bid for funding for projects to reduce our carbon emissions. Since 2011, we’ve awarded £670,000 to over 100 projects. These have saved nearly 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
We use zero carbon electricity, generated through off-shore wind farms. This has helped us to reduce the carbon footprint of our electricity use by nearly half since 2005.
We don’t invest in companies involved in fossil fuel extraction.
Plus we also reuse rainwater to flush toilets on campus, encourage everyone to use reusable cups and recycle furniture across our Departments and Colleges.
What about the environment off campus?
We’re working with partners locally to keep Durham a green and beautiful place to live, work, study and visit.
We’ve signed the County Durham Single Use Plastics Pledge to work towards removing unnecessary single use plastics and we’re closely involved with Durham County Council to achieve the goal of an environmentally sustainable County.
Together with Durham Cathedral we manage the Durham Castle and Cathedral World Heritage Site, and our staff and students do loads of great volunteering to keep the City looking its best: from litter picks to gardening of public spaces.
We expect our students living in the City to be responsible citizens. For example, at the end of each academic year, rather than throw away belongings they no longer want, students can donate them to charity through our Green Move Out project.
World-leading environmental research
We also seek to lead society in becoming more environmentally sustainable, through our world-leading research.
Experts from the Durham Energy Institute are looking at ways to heat homes and workplaces by harnessing the warm water in abandoned coal mines, our physicists are working on ways to make solar power cheaper and more efficient and our surface scientists developed a coated mesh to help clean up oil spills.
We were recently named as one of the world’s top universities for our contribution to a number of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).