Durham University ranks 19th in world for sustainability

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Durham University has been ranked as a top 20 University in the world for sustainability.

The University came 19th out of 1,397 global institutions in the second year of the QS World University Rankings: Sustainability. This is a great increase from the 2023 rankings, where Durham placed 53rd.

This means that Durham is the 5th best UK University for sustainability.

The rankings are compiled using three categories: Environmental Impact, Social Impact, and a newly added Governance category. Outward evidence of research and impact towards climate issues are measured, particularly focusing on a University’s progress towards the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals.

The University received (out of 100), a score of 86.7 for Environmental Impact, 78 for Environmental Education, 83.9 for Environmental Sustainability, and 96.1 for Environmental Research.

The University came 19th out of 1,397 global institutions and 5th in the UK for sustainability

Professor Karen O’Brien, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, said that: “Durham is now recognised as one of the world’s leading universities for addressing the most pressing environmental, social and governance challenges society faces today.

“Our research strengths in energy span all four of our faculties and sustainability is embedded across our teaching and learning. We have made great strides in reducing our own carbon footprint and have two ambitious targets: to achieve net zero carbon by 2035 and biodiversity net gain by 2032.

“It is very pleasing to see the hard work of our researchers, professional staff and students recognised in these prestigious rankings.”

This is not the first time this year that the University has been recognised for its contribution towards the environment and sustainability: in March 2023, Durham was awarded a gold award for hedgehog preservation by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society; in May 2023, the University was awarded ‘platinum tier’ status for wildlife protection and placed at the top of Ark Wildlife’s league table for wildlife care; and in November 2023, two University projects, Greenspace and the Biodiversity Strategy, were shortlisted for the Green Gown Awards.

Durham University helped to found the Nature Positive Universities Network at COP15 and was also awarded official observer status at COP26, and has since sent a delegation every year.

“We have made great strides in reducing our own carbon footprint and have two ambitious targets: to achieve net zero carbon by 2035 and biodiversity net gain by 2032”

Prof Karen O’Brien

In terms of its campus, the University has signed the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), which it applies regularly to research and teaching. This has resulted in educational programmes on climate science, energy and development and environmental geoscience being offered by the University.

In addition, new buildings such as the Mathematical Science and Computer Science hub, the Teaching and Learning Centre, and the Sports and Wellbeing Complex were all built to one of the highest standards for sustainability, as outlined in the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM).

Durham University will continue its aims of achieving a net gain of biodiverse habits as per its ten-year Biodiversity Strategy, which was launched in 2022, and its new Sustainability Ambition Agreement, which aims to achieve net zero carbon by 2035.

Image courtesy of Durham University

One thought on “Durham University ranks 19th in world for sustainability

  • Does this assessment of sustainability take account of the number of cars imported into our small city by members of the university?

    Reply

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