First class honour as DMU's named one of the most sustainable universities in the UK

After a busy week of graduations, De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) can celebrate being awarded its own first class degree as one of the most environmentally-friendly institutions in the country.

DMU was awarded a First in the annual People and Planet University League in recognition of its environmental and ethical performance.

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It is the eighth year running that DMU has been given first class status and the university was ranked 15th overall out of the 154 institutions rated. Oxford was handed a 2:1 and ranked 45th while Cambridge received a 2:2 and was ranked 67th.

Universities were measured in 13 different categories covering everything from recycling to carbon management.

DMU scored 100 per cent for waste reduction and recycling, 90 per cent for its carbon management, 80 per cent for its environmental policies, 78 per cent for reducing water use, including the recycling of rain and waste water, and 77 per cent for education.

The education score was marked against United Nations guidelines which recognises ‘the process of equipping students with the knowledge and understanding, skills and attributes needed to work and live in a way that safeguards environmental, social and economic wellbeing, both in the present and for future generations’.

The latest ranking builds on DMU’s commitment to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which address ecological and humanitarian problems and provide a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

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Karl Letten, DMU Environment and Sustainability Officer, said: “I’m absolutely delighted. Receiving a First Class award for the eighth year running is a clear indication of how seriously DMU takes its commitment to being more sustainable.

“There is a clear passion among our students to tackle climate change and that passion presents the university with an ongoing and welcome challenge to lead by example.

“Part of that is ensuring we give our students the skills and knowledge to continue to make sustainable choices, not just on campus but in their future careers.”

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DMU has a long list of measures in place to make the university more sustainable, including:

  • giving away more than 21,000 free reusable mugs to staff and students in 2018
  • the removal of all plastic cutlery from DMU eating areas
  • wood pellet boilers which are carbon neutral
  • fitting the leisure centre with air source heat pumps
  • using photovoltaic panels on DMU buildings to generate electricity
  • using ground heat pumps in some buildings which draw heat from the earth
  • a greener travel policy which sees four times the national average of staff cycling to work

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“We have never considered DMU as a one trick pony when it comes to sustainability. We are doing a lot,” Karl added.

He did however recognise that DMU did not score highly in all areas and there is room for improvement.

DMU had low ratings for workers’ rights – relating to workers in the supply chain who contribute towards products sourced for use at DMU - and ethical investment.

Almost all universities ranked poorly on workers’ rights, including the University of Gloucestershire, which came top of the People and Planet league for sustainability.

Karl explained DMU had put in place a Flexible Framework on Sustainable Procurement, which involves ensuring issues such as health and safety and workers’ rights are embedded all along the supply chain of products bought in by the university.

He also added that DMU has an Ethical Investment Policy and his department was working with others at DMU to ensure it was enforced properly.

Karl said: “While incredibly proud of scoring highly in many areas we appreciate there is always more work to be done and we will be focussing our efforts on improving these areas over the coming months.”

Posted on Monday 22nd July 2019

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