Solar panels: Our renewable energy hub at DMU

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According to our latest strategic plan 2018-2023, De Montfort university has constantly assessed the opportunities and planned for the greener future by ensuring the effective use of resource and capabilities. One of our main focuses is to reduce the community’s carbon emission and being more sustainable. Hence, to achieve this objective, DMU, in collaboration with Estate and Management team, embark project on renewable energy, which has been implemented through solar panels.  More than 1,110 panels were fitted on the roof tops of four campus buildings;

  • Hugh Aston Building
  • Edith Murphy Building
  • Gateway House
  • Vijay Patel

Internal report showed us that our campus-wide initiative incredibly saved the energy cost up to £25,000 in the 12 months after they were installed.

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The entire collection of solar panels produced up 312.48 kilowatt peak (kWp) of energy on the sunny days. These installations support us to minimise the environmental impact of university operations on our campus and work towards our target of reducing emissions by 43% by 2020 compared to where we were in 2005.

This year, tremendous effort and strong commitment demonstrated the university and the Estate team are continue to focus on sustainability as prioritisation area. And we hope to maximise environmentally friendly technology in future solar panel installations in other buildings in the upcoming years.

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As the end of the day, we believe that working on increasing green credentials of the university is not only beneficial for DMU students and staff but also a global community. We want to be a part of creating a sustainable future in the society as a whole.

Our Riverside Café – how we improve sustainability through healthy food

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The Riverside has a real focus on vegan and vegetarian cuisine, with meat dishes also available. Everyone could enjoy a range of hot and cold beverages and fresh meals in a cosy environment in this contemporary design café. Situated at the western end of Vijay Patel building, the café runs from the early morning during weekdays and 10 AM. on the weekend.

With a collaboration with experienced catering from Chartwell’s, DMU has demonstrated a strong commitment to link sustainability and food by adopting ethical consumerism method in our own way. Locally sourced ingredients, for example, Yellow and Red Beetroot, Outdoor Girl Tomato, are carefully selected from our home grown Trinity House herb garden. Every morning, our passionate garden caretaker Daniel Kirk, will carefully pick herbs and vegetables and deliver them to the café right away. Therefore, every meals cooked for our students and staffs can ensure the freshness of selective ingredients and their support also contribute to our effort in reducing the overall environmental impact of food served each plate.

This year, we are beyond delighted to announce that our riverside café get accredited for Bronze Food for Life Served Here award by Soil Association. From left to right, it is with great pleasure that David Persaud;Food for life served here Development manager, Karl Letten, our sustainability manager, Niel Satchwell; Contract Director, and Anne Spooner from Chartwells team join us today to celebrate this award. With a visible and effective of our university-wide sustainability effort, this recognition has tremendously improved our environmental credentials and help us sustain the position in People and Planet University Leagues.

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Water Fountain on Campus

Some of the SDG 12 Responsible Consumption’s goals are

  • Sustainable management and use of natural resources (12.2)
  • Substantially reducing waste generation (12.5)
  • Promoting universal understanding of sustainable lifestyles (target 12.8)

Some of the SDG 14 Life Below Water’s goals are

  • Reducing marine pollution (14.1)
  • Protecting and restoring ecosystems (14.2)

Our team members are currently working on a project to promote the drinking fountains here on campus. We are proposing the use of graphics, which are wall stickers shown above, to help give a visual awareness of the fountains at DMU. We aim to encourage the use of them and reinforce repeat use to form students and staffs new habit. The outcome of this project will significantly reduce single-use bottles on campus and will encourage the use of reusable bottles. Additionally, the project is implemented to support DMU’s strategic plan towards the Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) and SDG 14 (life below water).

Currently, we are undergoing our initial proposed visuals and ideas with other related parties to help further push this project forward, regarding to the design work and project feasibility.  The expected launch period would be the end of this year or the beginning of January next year. Please stay tuned for more updates.

Student Sustainability Summit on 04 November 2019

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On Monday 04 November 2019 SOS-UK and NUS held their 9th annual Student Sustainability Summit, this year at The University of Sheffield Students’ Union.

We, representing DMU sustainability team, had a chance to join this event that brought together more than 200 student officers and activists to explore, discuss and plan tactics for getting our universities and colleges to go further and faster on sustainability.

One of the interesting issue arose from keynote speech given by Zamzam lbrahim, or a NUS and SOS-UK President, is the poor education system. Here’s the excerpt of her inspiring speech.

“Our schools, colleges and universities are education factories, more interested in preparing us to pass exams than developing us as critical thinkers and global citizens. We are assessed on what we can remember, not what we can do with the knowledge. Our education system teaches us to compete with our rivals, not to collaborate with our friends. We are led to believe that sustainability is a niche subject, not something that is fundamental to everything we learn and do. Our education system teaches us in silos, despite the fact everything is connected. Our universities are judged by what our starting salaries are rather than the good we go on to achieve. We leave education with so much debt we feel obliged to apply for the best paid jobs, rather than the jobs that will make the world a better place. The whole system, not just the education system, but the society in which we live, indoctrinates us to prioritise short-term profit over long term prosperity.”

However, we can recognise how universities around UK run transformational programmes to embed the sustainability across teaching curriculum. Collaborative effort from students’ unions and the universities are empowered to decarbonise, decolonise, and democratise the curriculum.

Moreover, there were in total 12 workshops (4 topics x 3 slots all day) led by nation-wide students and environmental enthusiasts, namely SOS-UK, UKSCN, and People & Planet. Our team have participated in inspiring 3 workshops as follows:

  1. Intersectional sustainability on campus – Understand the relevance and importance on climate crisis that need intersectional activism from all forms of institution regardless of gender, race, age, and social class. Increasing outreach means higher accessibility and achievement rates.
  2. Heating up politics not the planet – Learn how students can make our voices heard by local and national politicians. Brainstorm ideas what sustainability concerns should be the top priorities and explore the channels how to get these issues tackled by political engagement, including local MPs and parliamentary system.
  3. Taking your values with you into your future career – Learn how to link personal values and campaign skills into our future careers. Explore the survey result how graduates are concerned with corporate sustainability practices when considering future employers.

We would like to say thank you NUS and SOS UK for arranging this event as it serves as a platform that allows all college and university students to meet other like-minded people, exchange ideas and food for thoughts to go further with their own institutions.

 

Meet our team: Thutchanok C.

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Hello guys! I’m Thutchanok Chirakunakorn or you can call me Nikki, a master degree student in International Business and Marketing. This academic year I will be your Sustainability Communication Frontrunner, located in DMU’s Estates Development Building.

For the past few years, I have developed my passion towards Sustainability issues due to aggravating environmental problems in my country, Thailand. Due to rapid economic growth, we are facing numerous issues, namely air pollution, declining wildlife populations, and poor resource management. Combined with increasingly popular sustainability topic integrated in my business studies, I realise that I have a keen interest in understanding how governmental bodies, private sectors, and various industries were mutually striving to improve our quality of life and environmental health.

Also, various interesting DMU initiatives have been untold as social media channels are not fully utilised. Therefore, my ultimate goal of joining Sustainable team at DMU is to improve the way how university encourages students and staffs to get involved in more sustainable practices in resource consumption. I truly believe that interactive communication, engaging content on social posts, and on-ground activities will bring people together and finally empower them to take a collective action.


			

Meet our team: Carolina Seri

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Hello everyone! My name is Carolina, I am a second year International Relations with French student and I will be your Sustainable Development Frontrunner for this year!

As part of my role within the Estates Development department I will be taking part in two main projects to address and promote sustainable behaviour both between the student community and the university staff. This will include leading the “Responsible Futures” project run by the NUS with the aim to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) within taught curricula and participating in the “Green Impact” programme, which focuses on improving the university’s sustainable conduct within the various departments.

I have developed my passion for the United Nations’ SDG through a Global Geography course I have been taking during my exchange year in Canada and since then I have been shaping my studies with the goal to pursue a career with the sustainable development field, as I believe it to be and extremely important and fascinating subject.
I am also deeply committed to the resolution of the Climate Crisis by taking small steps to reduce my waste production and by using alternative and reusable products within my daily routine.

I will be coordinating some of the events and meetings around campus, so come find me to support our work and be part of the change!


			

Meet our team: Ross Kelly

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Hey there! I’m Ross Kelly your Sustainability Coordinator, located in DMU’s Estates Development Building. My role is to help coordinate events while continuing to push existing, and pursue new sustainability initiatives for the University, embedding them into DMU’s Student and Staff culture.

This role is part of my courses sandwich year placement, in which I study Product and Furniture Design. Wanting to specialise in sustainable / green design. Being a current student allows me to better understand Leicester’s student community because of the common ground we share. Identifying what works well for students and what steps we can make together to make DMU an even more sustainable and progressive organisation to be a part of.

Some of the projects that I will be involved in are: the Carbon Literacy project; where we are perusing the goal of becoming a carbon neutral organisation, sustainable futures, Green impact, education for sustainable development (ESD) and travel initiatives.

My goal for the next 12 months is to really engage with students and ensure what our sustainability team are doing at DMU is widely known by both staff and students through multimedia platforms. Furthermore I want to help develop a Carbon Literacy training course which will be tailored towards DMU’s staff and students. With the hope of passing this knowledge on to peers, friends, family and other organisations about reducing not only their own but also an organisations carbon footprint.