We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.


Questions and Suggestions

If you have a question or suggestion for Greenspace, please complete the form below. Responses to FAQs can be found below.

Personal details
Please provide your full name and Durham email address.
Question / Suggestion

Previous Questions and Responses

+I wish to undertake Environmental Research.

There are a number of environment-related courses and modules offered at Durham University. You may also wish to consider undertaking a thesis/project within your department on an environmental theme. Information, suggestions and examples of such courses and suggested research topics can be found on our ‘Sustainability research’ web page:

+Could we grow more bee-friendly plants (such as lavender or buddleia)?

This would be possible in a number of colleges and is something that is taken into consideration when planting plans are designed. Bee-friendly plants have recently been planted in an eco-garden at St Mary’s and in the gardens at Hatfield. Many varieties of buddleia are not always appropriate as this is actually an invasive weed. Planting to support the bee population is always taken into consideration.

+What is Durham University doing to support wildlife diversity on their grounds?

Durham University is privileged to have a very bio diverse estate. The management and development of this is guided by the University’s Biodiversity Policy. Wildlife diversity is taken into consideration by those managing the estate. Examples of recent improvements include leaving seed bearing species on farmland to support the local bird population, increasing the number of wildlife corridors, leaving some areas of grass uncut and increasing the number of bird boxes across the estate. A few years ago, barn owl boxes were set up, and played host to three chicks.

+Could solar panels be installed for heating water?

We tend to review this when carrying out refurbishments and build new buildings, such as the Palatine and the Stockton Sports Centre. Solar Thermal technology tends to have a long financial payback against installed gas systems so is not normally a practical retrofit renewables option.

+Could we use wind turbines or other forms of renewable energy sources?

Wind turbines are the most difficult renewable energy to install as they require not only good wind but detailed and lengthy planning approvals, we have viewed potential locations but they will only likely be considered after we have exhausted other renewables options such as solar thermal/PV and heat pump technology. 

See here some examples where we have recently incorporated these technologies into the estate.

+Which company supplies the University's energy?

The University's current energy suppliers are EDF Energy for electricity and Corona Energy for gas. Presently 100% of our electricity is supplied via zero carbon nuclear energy. We review our Utility contracts every three years and we do consider price versus benefit in each case.

+Is there any guidance on which laptops/computers are the most energy efficient?

Guidance for staff can be found here.

+Replace inefficient hand driers/ paper towels in toilets with eco-friendly hand driers.

Replacements generally are picked up when buildings are refurbished, however in addition we are replacing hand driers in buildings such as Wolfson at Stockton and Elvet Riverside in Durham with a sourced low carbon alternative. The Mountjoy Centre and Palatine Centre have energy-efficient hand driers in rather than paper towels.

+There should be compulsory staff training in energy efficiency.

Greenspace is working to ensure all staff know of the University’s Carbon Reduction commitment and the part they have to play. All new staff are given an overview of the Online Sustainability Training Module available in their induction and this is available for all staff and students to complete from their duo home page. This training module identifies University initiatives and individuals’ responsibilities relating to a range of environmental topics including energy, waste, water, biodiversity and travel.

+Is it best to continually heat an area rather than turning the heating on and off?

Very few of our buildings would be heated constantly (only very high thermal mass buildings such as Churches etc. would be considered), buildings that are controlled by Building Management Systems use optimisation and compensation programmes that self-learn how the building performs and fine tune heating systems to optimise energy usage and comfort using internal and external sensors unlike time clocks that would switch heating according against time only and have no intelligence. This approach is a recognised approach to managing sustainable buildings.

+It’s too cold - turn the air con off

The University has an Energy Management Policy which includes rules of the use of air conditioning. Air conditioning should only be used under the following circumstances:

• Where internal environmental conditions need to be maintained within a specific temperature and/or relative humidity parameters for scientific/research purposes or for the protection of sensitive collection materials.
• To prevent damage or malfunction of sensitive business-critical equipment.
• Where internal space temperatures consistently rise above 28oC due to excessive heat gains that cannot be mitigated.

Where air conditioning is installed, it must be switched off outside of occupied periods.

If this is not the case, please contact the Estates & Buildings helpdesk on 0191 33 46000.

+It’s too hot - turn the heating off

The University has an Energy Management Policy which states the target internal heating temperatures of most University areas during core hours to be 20oC. (Please note the core hours of college buildings differ to those of University offices and departments). Please report overheated areas to the reception of the College/Department you are in. They can then inform Estates & Buildings in order to try and find a solution. You can also report to the Estates & Buildings helpdesk on 0191 33 46000.

+Our automatic lighting is not working/ stays on too long/ switches off too quickly.

The timers on newly installed automatic lighting might not always be set to the correct time period or the motion sensor may be positioned incorrectly. Please report problems to the reception of your college/department, especially if this is a safety issue.

+Why are the lights on when it is daylight outside?

It can be habit for users of rooms and offices to automatically switch on a light when they enter. All staff and students are asked to always consider whether room lighting is required, whether task lighting could be used instead and whether a room is set up to make the best use of natural light i.e. position desks close to a window.

Some motion sensor lighting includes a LUX monitor to ensure that lighting does not come on if an area is already lit. Older automatic lights may not have this feature. If you notice an area that could benefit from LUX controlled lighting, please use the question and suggestion form on the Greenspace website.

+Lights have been left on in a certain area/ an area is over lit/ why do some lights not turn off?

Some lighting is necessary around the University estate for safety reasons. There are, however, instances where areas are lit unnecessarily. We need the help of all members of the University to ensure all non-essential lighting is switched off when not needed. Motion sensor or timed lighting has been installed in many areas to reduce energy wastage. Many areas have also arranged schemes to ensure buildings are toured at night and all non-essential lighting is turned off.

If you observe unnecessary lighting which you cannot switch off, please report such instances to the E&B Helpdesk on extension 46000.

+Why don’t we have automatic lighting in corridors/ bar/ toilets/ staircases?

A large amount of lighting in the University has been made automatic. Installation of such lighting in suitable areas is an on-going process, but automatic lighting is not always the perfect solution – lighting can switch off when it is still required or the light may be switched on for longer than needed. Many light switches and plugs are labelled accordingly to remind users to switch off.

+Are there buses between the town centre and the science site?

At present staff and students can travel free using the Arriva X12, 56, 57 & 57A bus services, which operate from Durham Bus Station which run along Stockton Road and the bus stop is opposite the Palatine Building. Bus stops are also sited just prior to the New Inn for easy access to the Bill Bryson Library entrance to Lower Mountjoy. Details can be found at

+Could the X12 bus become electric?

At present, this is not an option, but could be considered in the future.

+I need a second-hand bike – where can I get them from?

Refurbished/second-hand bikes can be purchased from Recyke y'bike based in Durham (currently along North Road, opposite the bus station).

+There should be a shuttle bus service between train station and campus.

At present, there is a 40B bus service in operation during peak times from Durham Railway Station to the Mountjoy Site via the Bus Station. Further details and a timetable can be found at

+There should be road safety courses available to those who wish to cycle.

This has been provided in the past with very little take up, but can be explored again if there is demand.

+Could the university use non-bleached (off white) recycled paper (instead of bright-white recycled paper)?

The bright-white recycled paper that we use is 100% recycled and CO2 neutral. We have recently successfully tested some off white paper in the multi-function devices around the campus. The university recommends the use of the following paper:

  • Office Depot A4 Recycled Printer Paper White 80gsm
  • Steinbeis White A4 Classic 100 percent recycled 80gsm (off white)

Both of these are available from our contract supplier Office Depot.

+Isn’t salmon unsustainable so why do we serve it?

The University is MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) accredited which means all the fish we use is sourced and produced sustainably.

+What are the specifics of Fairtrade sourcing in the University?

As stated in the University's Fairtrade Policy, Senior Category Managers or Category Managers will consider Fairtrade, if appropriate, as part of the planning process for each contract that they are responsible for tendering. Products are reviewed through contract review meetings by Senior Category Managers or Category Managers in relation to the contracts that they are responsible for. Though for legal reasons we are unable to specify Fairtrade in tenders, we can specify that we wish for items which are fairly traded.

+How much food is wasted in college dining rooms?

The amount of food wasted in college dining rooms will vary between colleges. Some colleges are now weighing the food thrown away at meal times and displaying the results internally in order to try and raise awareness of this issue. Love Food Hate Waste campaigns around the University also include offering students free ‘seconds’ after a certain time to reduce waste. Many also allow students to help themselves to ensure that they do not get a portion larger than they would like or so that they can go back and get more food if they are still hungry.

+Why don’t we compost food waste/ organic waste?

The University has explored the possibility of composting food waste from colleges and YUM outlets, but unfortunately this is not possible on site at this time, due to environmental legislation. This is a subject we consider to investigate. Food waste placed in general waste bins currently goes to an energy-from-waste plant. 

+Can disposable paper cups be recycled?

Yes – we are currently able to recycle our disposable coffee cups, as long as they
are free from excess liquids/contamination – please place in the blue-lidded
recycling bins. The cups go to large modern recycling mills around the world
which can recycle plastic and wax impregnated paper products used mainly in
food packaging, until there is a more sustainable UK route.

+Can I recycle acetate sheets?

Yes. These can be recycled by placing in the red-lidded plastics recycling bin.

+Can I recycle batteries?

Yes. Battery collection tubes or boxes are placed around the University. Ask your Staff Environment Champion if you are unsure where battery recycling is in your College or Department. Please do not put batteries in the general waste.

+Can I recycle deodorant cans?

Yes. Once used, all aerosol cans should be placed in the recycling bin for tins and cans.

+Can I recycle empty printer ink cartridges?

Yes. Cartridges from Durham University printers get taken away and recycled or reused by the company that supplies the cartridges. Students can also recycle their printer cartridges via the printer cartridge collecting boxes located around the University – ask your Environment Rep or Champion if you are unsure of where these are located in your College/ Department.

+Can I recycle paper napkins?

Unfortunately napkins cannot be recycled. Used napkins should therefore be placed in the general waste bin. 

+Can I recycle white board marker pens?

Unfortunately these cannot be recycled so once used, these should be placed in general waste.

+How do I recycle as a Liver Out?

Information on recycling for Livers Out is included in the Greenspace Livers Out Guide. Look out for information also supplied to your household from your local council. Information on how to recycle and collection dates in your area can also be found:

  • For residents in Durham, information on collection days can be found in the ‘My Durham’ section on the Durham County Council website and further information can be found here or you can contact 03000 261 000.

(For waste collection dates, click on ‘My Durham’ on the top toolbar, then enter your house number and postcode in the boxes).

  • For residents in Stockton, information on collection days and further information can be found on the Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council website here.

+Why can some items not be recycled?

The University liaises with its waste collector to ensure as many items as possible can be recycled. Some goods are made of a variety of materials and therefore are unable to be recycled e.g. laminated cardboard or sweet wrappers with foil linings. Our general waste no longer goes to landfill but is instead used to produce energy. 

+Can I recycle..?

Information on what can be recycled and where, can be found on the University’s recycling posters. These are available online and by most recycling bins. If you are unsure of what can be put in which bin, please speak to your Environment Rep or Champion or email

+Could we have rainwater collection for toilet flushing/watering greenery?

This has been carried out at the Mountjoy Centre and the Palatine Building, and we will continue to review when large building projects come along.