Artwork With an Environmental Twist

Final Year Fine Art student at DMU, Helen Gunn, has been producing some very interesting work around ecology  and sustainability and we thought we should share it with everyone.

This is the piece: ‘Broken – Crassulaceae’ 

The large sculpture was exhibited indoors and then installed in the DMU car park for a day in the summer of 2016.



The sculpture concerns a plant, ecology and migration. The form is based on a perennial sedum belonging to the Crassulaceae family which evolved 100-60 million years ago.

The eco-artist stated that the Crassulaceae ‘Is a popular ‘bought garden plant’ because it conveniently survives neglect.  By representing the flower umbel with toy vehicles I make comparisons between the plant’s longevity and the short-lived era of the automobile; between global auto trade with its brand divisions and Crassulaceae species hybridisation and global spread through natural and cultivated systems.  The reversal of car scale to plant privileges the sedum representation, disturbing typical hierarchies and honours Crassulaceae longevity, also plant capacity to absorb harmful CO2 emissions released by driven vehicles.  The sculpture is constructed from recycled woods.  By presenting it as ‘stem broken’ the perennial capacity for re-growth is acknowledged. Vehicles forming the umbel were donated by children.’

Helen also created another piece titled ‘Green House’.









The sculpture is made from hanging panels which are ‘sacrificial boards’. Wooden panels which are sacrificed during the fabrication of other projects.

Helen’s future work will focus on the changing climate and attitudes towards nature during this period.

Special thanks to Helen Gunn, for letting us discuss her brilliant environmental and Eco-conscious sculptures!

🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱 🌱

– Alexandra Kilcran, Green Behaviour Change Frontrunner

We Wish You a Sustainable Christmas and a Waste Free New Year! ♻️🎄

We Wish You a Sustainable Christmas and a Waste Free New Year! ♻️🎄

We know it can be easy to buy too much food, or waste a lot during Christmas, but by using LED lights, only buying food which you know you’ll eat and maybe a treat or two here and there, buying and using sustainable wrapping paper or just buying less overall, you can enjoy Christmas without it having a negative effect on the environment!

Here are some really useful websites with tips on how to have a more sustainable Christmas:

Friends of the Earth – 25 Eco-friendly Christmas Tips

The Guardian – 7 Tips for Smart Christmas Recycling

Recycle This – Recycling at Christmas

Recycle Now – Recycling at Christmas

The Huffington Post – Reducing Food Waste

Love Food Hate Waste – Money Saving Christmas

Leicester City Council – Christmas and New Year Recycling

Energy Saving LED Christmas Lights

The Guardian – Minimalist Christmas

One Green Planet – Upcycled Christmas Gifts




Have a wonderful Christmas everyone!! ♻️🎄

New Green Behaviour Change Frontrunner! 🌱

Hello! I’m Alex Kilcran and I’m the new Green Behaviour Change Frontrunner in the Estates Department of DMU. My job is to manage the Sustainable DMU social media accounts and encourage staff and students to think about their role in looking after our environment. We support a number of initiatives for students including NUS Student Switch Off and NUS Green Impact, FREE Park and Ride for staff and Dr Bike sessions held frequently.



I promise we do more than just hug trees!

Here are our social media accounts and other useful links, feel free to message our FB or Twitter accounts if you have any queries or wish to get involved further!

Facebook: Sustainable DMU

Twitter: Sustainable DMU

Instagram: Sustainable DMU

NUS Student Switch Off: NUS Student Switch Off InfoDMU Student Switch Off FB

FREE Park and Ride for staff: DMU Website campaign for Switch to 100% Renewable Energy is a platform for young people to engage with sustainability issues, due to the COP21 conferences they feel it is a perfect time to empower the switch to 100% renewable energy by demonstrating “The power of collection by driving the shift to a clean energy future.”    #go100percent.

‘Collectively’ brings together people “from around the world and organisations from across sectors” and claims that “we can together make faster progress towards a future we all want to live in” Some big influences involved are Facebook , Twitter and Unilever, whose aim is to become ‘carbon positive’ in their operations ‘by 2030’; others include Google and Yahoo; even Obama is getting on board, and you check out his Clean Power Plan here:

Collectively aims to get students involved in these campaigns by encouraging individuals to engage with their universities as advocates for change towards the way in which their institutes use energy, and hope that this will eventually lead to a 100% switch to renewable energy.

“Individually, millennials feel powerless and cynical about their voices being heard”; however with the help of large, game-changing organisations that are constantly in the public eye, individuals can feel that their voice has more punch than they may have thought which in turn can enable change.

Keep up with their latest news on their website:

You can also check out their campaign video here: and get involved by clicking the following link to show your support for Clean Power:

Renewing Leicester Energy

Being a University committed to sustainability means, among other things, supporting low carbon emission measures through the use of renewable energy. DMU Campus is based in the city of Leicester, which is committed in turn to these issues.

In fact, to scale the progress made in this field, an interesting project was carried out by the City Council.

Three interactive maps have been created by the Environmental team of the Leicester City Council to display renewable energy and low carbon technology and how they have been employed across the city of Leicester

The website includes three different interactive maps. The maps cover three different topics: Renewable Technology, Low Carbon Technology and Low Carbon Technology 2.

According to which layer you select, the renewable technology map shows: the major planning applications which generate renewable energy in orange, Leicester City Council renewables in green and domestic renewables in the blue shaded areas.


The Low Carbon Technology map shows: the district heating network in red (District Heating (DH) Main Pipes and DH Buildings), cavity wall insulated council homes in blue and external wall insulated council homes in green.


The Low Carbon Technology 2 map shows: LED street lighting in orange, Green roofs in green and Houses built to the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 in blue.


The initiative enables individuals to discover the improvement for a low carbon Leicester. Also, it aims to encourage a future implementation of green technologies in the city, where DMU Campus is in the middle of it. A greener city will directly benefit the University. Also, it could be the starting point to link them together for a joint effort.

Indeed at DMU there is a focus on the implementation of renewable energy to cut the University’s carbon footprint and, of course, also the costs of energy consumption. Some examples are: a biomass boiler, ground source heat pumps, an air source heat pump, solar thermal panels and rainwater harvesting.

Let’s go through these tools to create renewable energy, according to where they are disposed within the Campus.

In John Whitehead Building, the heating is mostly supplied from a biomass boiler, which is fed with high quality wood pellets derived from sawmill waste wood. It provides low carbon heat.


In Hugh Aston Building, the underfloor heating and some of the hot water is supplied by four ground source heat pumps. There is a network of 60 boreholes, each 100 metres deep, in the ground underneath the building’s courtyard. The temperature of the ground at that depth is relatively constant throughout the year, warmer than ambient air temperatures during winter and cooler than ambient air temperatures during summer. Using the reverse-cycle heat pump, it is possible to exploit this temperature difference to provide low carbon heating and hot water in winter, and low carbon cooling in summer. The Hugh Aston Building also benefits from low carbon hot water, which is generated by two roof-mounted solar panels. Furthermore, at Hugh Aston there is rainwater harvesting. Here, rainwater is collected in an underground tank, from where it is pumped around the building to flush toilets. This system reduces the amount of fresh water used and the energy required to pump the fresh water to Hugh Aston.

The new Leisure Centre requires a lot of hot water throughout the year for the showers and to keep the swimming pool at a comfortable temperature. An air source heat pump was installed to help meet this demand.


Moreover, during summer 2013 the University has undertaken four installations of photovoltaic panels on its buildings: two in Hugh Aston, one in Edith Murphy and another at Gateway House. Between them it is estimated that these four installations will generate 96,128kWh of electricity per year. According to the average household uses of electricity per year this means that it will be generating enough electricity to supply over 29 homes. From a campus perspective this amount of energy easily offsets the amount of electricity consumed by Trinity House in a year.


Last but not least, there are some energy saving projects, such as a cover for the swimming pool. This reduces DMU’s gas consumption, by reducing the heat lost from the swimming pool water when the pool is not in use. Another example is the installation of LED lighting, which typically uses approximately 50% of the electricity required by conventional fluorescent lighting. The buildings involved in this project are: Kimberlin Library, Bede Halls of Residence, Estates Services Building, Hawthorn and Portland buildings.

Also, at DMU there are little electric vans!

electric van

The University’s efforts to be more and more eco-friendly should be seen as a wider effort for the University’s commitment to the public good. Cutting CO2 emissions with initiatives by the City Council and private citizens will benefit the overall air quality of Leicester. In turn, cutting CO2 levels through renewable energy at DMU will benefit the University and Leicester as well.


Useful websites:


Making a Greener Impact at DMU

This week is our Green Impact Awards Ceremony and for me it’s always one of the highlights of my year. I love it so much because it’s a great opportunity to celebrate real sustainability in action and real change at De Montfort University (DMU).
For those that don’t know, Green Impact is a project led by the NUS which has been running at DMU for the past 4 years. Through the project, teams of staff compete to see who can be the greenest by completing a series of environmental actions contained in an online workbook. Each of the actions in the workbook has allocated points and depending on the number of actions completed and points scored teams are awarded Bronze, Bronze+, Silver or Gold awards.
But Green Impact is so much more than just a staff environmental behaviour change project, which in itself would be pretty awesome. Perhaps Green Impact’s greatest contribution to the sustainability agenda is what it delivers in terms of the student experience, student employability and skills development. Let me explain further:
The participating Green Impact teams complete as many of the online actions as possible and submit their workbook. While the teams are creating greener workspaces through their activities we are recruiting a team of keen and enthusiastic DMU students to train as environmental auditors.
The volunteer auditors receive some top quality auditor training via the NUS on how to conduct environmental audits, what to look for and what evidence the Green Impact teams should be providing. The auditors then audit each of the Green Impact teams to ensure that the environmental actions have been completed to the required standard. The students provide feedback to the teams about how well they have done or if further actions are needed. This information forms the basis for the awards ceremony that takes place this week.
So not only do our student auditors get quality training on conducting environmental audits they also get firsthand experience of how to actually conduct an audit. And judging from the feedback I’ve received they really conduct an audit!
But perhaps more powerful than the skills and the training is the first hand experience of how staff at DMU are working to make the university a greener place. A clear demonstration that the activities of teams is not in any way green-wash; but that there is real dedication and a clear willingness to make DMU a more sustainable organisation. So evident is this dedication amongst the teams that auditors returning after the audits are really rooting for the teams and really want them to reach the award level they aspire to.
For me Green Impact offers so much to the sustainability agenda and this is why I enjoy the awards ceremony so much. This year will be even more special as so many of the student environmental auditors will be joining the Green Impact teams at the award ceremony to celebrate their successes.
And the future for Green Impact is looking good in Leicester and Leicestershire. Both universities in Leicester are taking part in Green Impact; students from the Faculty of Business & Law are working with LOROS through our BusinessWorks programme to deliver Green Impact; and Leicestershire County Council is also taking part in the project this year.
Green Impact offers so much to staff, student and participating organisations all while delivering environmental behaviour change. In short the project is an excellent way of delivering a greener impact at DMU.
Karl Letten
Environmental & Sustainability Officer