Durham achieves top Ecocampus award, but admits further action is still needed

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Durham University has achieved the highest ‘Platinum’ award in the EcoCampus scheme for the first time. It has, however, pledged to work with the Carbon Trust to go further in creating a sustainable campus.

EcoCampus is a scheme that helps universities to manage their environmental impacts. Having enrolled in early 2020, Durham University has taken just a year to gain their platinum certification.

The University uses energy from a mixture of sustainable sources on-campus, including solar panels and ground-source heat pumps, and electricity generated through off-shore wind farms.

Gas for heating, however, still comes from conventional sources.

Crucially, the University has stopped investing in fossil fuel extraction. This follows wider moves in UK Universities to divest from fossil fuel, with Cambridge announcing in 2020 that direct and indirect investments in fossil fuels would end by 2030.

Durham is a beautiful place to live, work and study and we’re working hard to keep it that way

David Loudon, Director of Estates and Facilities

Staff and students can bid for University funding for projects that reduce CO2. These initiatives have received £670,000 since 2011 and cut 4,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

David Loudon, Director of Estates and Facilities said: “Durham is a beautiful place to live, work and study and we’re working hard to keep it that way. So we’re very proud to have achieved the top Platinum award for EcoCampus”. 

Durham University has pledged to work with the Carbon Trust to go further.

Business travel, for example, is still the third largest source of C02 emissions from the University, making up 12.0% of total emissions.

Durham University has not joined other leading UK universities – inlcuding Cambridge and Newcastle – in setting net-zero CO2 emissions targets.

Their future plan instead includes cutting single-use plastics and delivering a new Sustainable Travel Plan.

On-campus sustainability initiatives are complemented by Durham’s research. In May 2020, the University was named among the world’s top universities for its contribution to a number of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings. 

Image: Durham University

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