Working towards a more sustainable future by cutting carbon emissions has seen two De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) projects shortlisted for prestigious Green Gown Awards.
The national awards, which were established in 2004, recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges.
DMU Global has been shortlisted in the Building Back Better category, while DMU Sustainability Manager Karl Letten and his team have been shortlisted in the 2030 Climate Action category.
DMU Global’s initiative started during the pandemic when international borders were closed and overseas travel was impossible.
Creating the DMU Global Online Learning programme gave students a range of opportunities to experience the world from home.
Close to 1,000 students took part in virtual international experiences, including summer schools at universities in France, Finland and South Korea, virtual internships helping communities in Fiji, online conferences in Indonesia and Japan, and virtual exchange projects with universities in the United States and Kazakhstan.
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As international travel restrictions gradually lifted, DMU Global made the decision to continue to connect students with other parts of the world through online learning while reducing the numbers of flights overseas.
The virtual link-ups with students, academics and businesses around the world has saved 1,164 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.
It has also opened up more opportunities for students to connect with people overseas without the cost.
In addition, those who do continue to travel with DMU Global must complete a sustainability and travel training module, which helps educate students about being ‘greener’ travellers.
Leo Smith, Head of Global Mobility at DMU, said: “We are delighted to receive recognition for the hard work we have put in adapting our international experience programme to make it more sustainable and accessible for students.
The DMU Global team
“We recognise the impact that flying has on the environment and want to be part of the positive change needed to address the climate crisis.”
Work led by Karl Letten, his sustainability team and the Estates Department, resulted in DMU reducing energy related carbon emissions by 49 per cent between 2005 and 2019.
The university has now moved on to a project to tackle scope 1 emissions – carbon emissions created directly by DMU, such as emissions from heating its buildings and emissions from its own vehicles – and scope 2 emissions – carbon created indirectly by the purchase of electricity supplies. This work will focus on decarbonising the energy used on campus by looking at alternative ways of generating heat and electricity.
This work is in response to the University setting a target to reach net zero for its energy related carbon emissions by 2032
Karl and his team are also looking to reduce scope 3 emissions – those indirectly caused by the university, such as waste management and disposal, commuting by students and staff, procurement and investments – to net zero by 2045.
Karl said: “Climate change is an incredibly serious challenge for society and universities have an important role to play in addressing this challenge not just through how we use and generate energy but also through how we educate and engage our staff and students.
“For our work on climate change to be recognised by the Green Gown Awards is fantastic and a real reflection on the great work that happens right across the institution to address climate change.”
The awards, which are coordinated by the Environmental Association of Universities & Colleges (EAUC), will be presented at a ceremony in Loughborough in November.
DMU Global has already been shortlisted this year in the ‘Sustainable International Impact’ category of ‘The PIEoneer Awards 2022’
Posted on Monday 15th August 2022