De Montfort University retains its’ Fairtrade University status!

De Montfort University became a Fairtrade University in March of 2010 and has now been a Fairtrade University for 6 years. In order to become a Fairtrade University the student union and the university had to achieve 5 goals. You can read the goals by following this link:

Being a Fairtrade University ultimately means that staff and students who purchase products on site are contributing to and supporting the Fairtrade movement led and co-ordinated by the Fairtrade Foundation.

The university sells a large number of Fairtrade products in shops on campus and uses Fairtrade ingredients in all food made on site; all the sugar that is used on campus for baking is Fairtrade sugar, and the coffee sold on level 1 of the campus centre is puro Fairtrade coffee. You can find these Fairtrade products sold around campus at the following sites…

  • Coffee Lab– Fletcher Building and Kimberlin Library
  • Cafe Del Marche– Campus Centre Building
  • Students Union Level 1 –Campus Centre Building
  • Students Union Shop– Campus Centre Building
  • Oasis Café– Hugh Aston building

In order to show that De Montfort University is continuing to promote Fairtrade and continues to meet the 5 goals of being a Fairtrade University, the university must submit information to the Fairtrade Foundation to evidence how it is doing this.

The university has recently renewed its’ Fairtrade Status, and have just recently been re-accredited by the Fairtrade Foundation as a Fairtrade University! The university will therefore continue to support the improvement of the standards of workers around the world by using Fairtrade ingredients and raising awareness for the cause!

What Is Fairtrade?

‘There are over 1.4 million farmers and workers in 1,140 producer organisations across the Fairtrade system’ Fairtrade Foundation

Fairtrade is simply, fair trading. The Fairtrade Foundation, the organisation behind the Fairtrade Mark, focuses on social, economic and environmental development and aims to ensure growth in countries which supply Fairtrade produce and ensures that farmers are paid fairly for their work and have more control over their own lives.

The organisation was established in 1992 by CAFOD and has been going for 22 years now.

Fairtrade also works with other partner organisations to license the use of the Fairtrade mark; this mark shows that the product complies with Fairtrade standards. The basic Fairtrade key objectives of the standards are:

  • ensure that producers receive prices that cover their average costs of sustainable production;
  • provide an additional Fairtrade Premium which can be invested in projects that enhance social, economic and environmental development;
  • enable pre-financing for producers who require it;
  • facilitate long-term trading partnerships and enable greater producer control over the trading process;
  • set clear core and development criteria to ensure that the conditions of production and trade of all Fairtrade certified products are socially, economically fair and environmentally responsible.

You can find more information about Fairtrade standards by following this link:

The partners working with Fairtrade have links in the same pool but also do a lot of other great work separate to the organisation, below are just a number of the partner organisations

CAFODChristian AidOxfam,TraidcraftGlobal Justice Now, National Federation of Women’s Institutes, Banana Link.

Why is Fairtrade important

The work that the Fairtrade Foundation does puts power in the hands of people, helping to give farmers the ability to sustain themselves and their families and have food security.

If you see the Fairtrade mark, as shown above, this means it has been sourced from small scale farmers and plantations that meet the Fairtrade standards

‘The standards include protection of workers’ rights and the environment, payment of the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in business or community projects.

Find out where to buy Fairtrade products by clicking here:

The Fairtrade organisation has a very transparent approach to how they work. You can check out the pricing information for Fairtrade items here:

Leicester is a Fairtrade City!

Leicester became the second Fairtrade city in Britain in 2002; a 5 year manifesto was put together to ensure standards are kept up. You can check out Leicester City’s 5 year manifesto here:

The main aim was to ensure food that comes in to the city is of good standards.

Fairtrade Fortnight

Fairtrade Fortnight is a campaign that runs over the course of 2 weeks annually, this 2016 it ran from the 29th February until the 13th March and engages communities and groups with the Fairtrade movement.

Although the fortnight lasts only 2 weeks, it is still important to give thought to those who produced the food that we buy and eat.

Martin Luther King famously said ‘Before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world’.

Just Fairtrade

Just Fairtrade is a shop in Leicester city centre; it was originally set up by Sarah and ran as a pop up shop for 5 years until they eventually moved into a rented facility to become a permanent business. Just Fairtrade has since been up and running for 15 years and will be celebrating 20 years as an organisation in the coming year!

The shop are predominantly made up of volunteers, with only 2 or 3 people being paid a full wage, and the main organiser Sarah, working full time as a volunteer. (You can find more information about the team here: The main driving force for the business is not the income, but in fact raising awareness about Fairtrade, in turn Just do lots of work with schools to help raise awareness amongst young people.

The items sold at the Just store are shipped in by a family business based in Market Harborough. The majority of materials sold are from southern countries such as India and Africa.

Alongside raising awareness here, Just also do a lot of work with communities in the countries where the products are made, to teach about how to sell in countries like England and the British consumer buying needs and habits, this helps the communities to create items which can be properly directed towards their target audiences.

Many of the items sold at the shop exist as a one off, so if you find you come across something that you like, snatch up the opportunity to make it yours before someone else does, as it may not come into stock again!

Just have numerous events going on throughout the year that are open to all; during the Fairtrade Fortnight, they hosted an Olive farmer named Mohammed Hamada who spoke about his experience of fair trade in Palestine.

People of all ages who are seeking experience/ voluntary work, can get in touch with Just Fairtrade who will be happy to have the help and to help you!

See their website, and follow them on Twitter and Facebook for more information.



Twitter: @JustFairtrade

Stand up for farmers when you sit down for breakfast!


Rebecca Mason, Green Behaviour Change Frontrunner at De Montfort University.


Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day was born out of the Environmental movement that began in the 1970’s;  and the celebration is now in it’s the 46th year and is growing with each passing celebration.

The movement began as a reaction to a huge oil spill in Santa Barbara which shook the world. Before this movement, thinking about the consequences that our actions might have on the environment was not commonplace. As we continued to guzzle fuel and consume at our own conveniences, this has unfortunately, over time resulted in serious consequences.

Scientists around the world have been carrying out research to get to grips with the weight of the issue and the problems we face; their research has provided devastating outcomes, proving the huge impact long term actions have led to.

Our mass consumption and need for materials has depleted forests and land; due to tree felling and commercial/ residential building, resulting in the displacement, extinction and endangering of thousands of species of animals around the world. Our unabated use of fossil fuels has also created a ‘greenhouse effect’, brought about by the build-up of gases such as methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) at an unmanageable rate, subsequently leading to Global Warming and the accelerated rise in sea levels.

Although this information arose years ago, our reactions have been slow; it has only been in recent years that we have seen change in our thoughts towards the environmental issues. Last year the Paris Climate Summit marked a step towards change for many, but is it really enough…? In order to make change happen nationally and worldwide, we must tackle these issues on a personal, community based and local level.

Today, many around the world are getting stuck in to do their bit to help their environments and raise awareness. You can find out where this is happening closest to you, and get involved by clicking here.

If you’re in Leicester, you can do your bit by joining Leicester’s annual earth day clean-up, on April 24th from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. where they will be meeting at the Town common to get stuck in!

We’ve compiled a list of 10 top tips for you to do to keep your carbon footprint at an all time low and become part of the growing movement!

  1. Leave lights off
  2. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!
  3. Donate to charity
  4. Shop Fairtrade, local, seasonal, organic and unpackaged
  5. Go meat free
  6. Re use your shopping bags
  7. Donate to charity
  8. Walk/ bike to work
  9. Make sure your coffee is Fairtrade or part of the rainforest alliance and use a reusable cup
  10. Keep electricals off and unplugged, but if you must stay online, go paperless

Remember these tips can be used everyday, long term! If you are looking for more information about how to keep your carbon footprint low, FOR GOOD, check out this great 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:

Student Switch Off, time for fun!


Last week was a great one for Student Switch Off here at DMU.

But first things first, what is it?

When I first arrived at my accommodation, New Wharf Hall, I noticed a big colourful poster on the board of our Kitchen. There was written something about a competition between all the Halls of Residence and there were funny pictures too. I was very curious, so I taped the link on my laptop and I found the DMU Student Switch Off Facebook page.

There I discovered that it was an energy saving competition between halls of residence. That means if by the end of the year a DMU hall has saved more energy per person than the others, the whole hall is going to win a big give away of Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream!

photo 4 (2)

Also, if you live in a DMU hall, after liking the page, you are able to enter the weekly photo competitions. They usually involve posting pictures on the page about a specific topic, like doing the washing at 30 degrees, putting a lid on the pan or switching the light off while you are leaving your room. Of course the first who post the photos can win vouchers for large tubes of Ben & Jerry’s or other goods such as Cinema Tickets.

To promote the page and eco-friendly behaviour, the NUS run a training event for students willing to be Student Switch Off Ambassadors to help others students to understand the importance of little changes in our every-day life for the environment and to reduce the University’s carbon footprint.

As a SSO Ambassador, I went to some Halls visits to promote the competition with Fran from NUS and all the times, students were keen to know more about the initiative and positive about the possibility of a victory!

The Student Switch Off is a good way to raise awareness about reducing energy consumption and avoiding waste precious resources.

So, last Tuesday at DMU took place the Ben & Jerry’s party open to all the students from the winning Hall, The Grange. There was a lot of Raspberry Chocolatey Chunk Greek Style Frozen Yogurt. Yummy and, of course Fairtrade!


Also, later on the week, it took place a Focus Group about SSO. A group of eight students, Professor Richard Bull and the Environment &Sustainability Officer Karl Letten discussed the project, its effectiveness and the idea of a new Dashboard to track easily if your accommodation is leading or not in that energy saving competition. That informal chat was very interesting. Everyone shared ideas, suggestions and a lot of enthusiasm. The Focus Group reveals that when students are involved in something positive, important and they can feel responsible for the common good, such a healthier life with less carbon, well, it works!


Fedora Agosti (Green Behaviour Change Frontrunner)




SmartSpaces at DMU

DMU developed the SmartSpaces project in partnership with Leicester City Council. The SmartSpaces project is a simple way of communicating energy usage in DMU and Leicester City Council buildings using smiley and not so smiley faces. You can check out the SmartSpaces website here Here’s Dr Graeme Stuart to explain how it works.

How are the faces calculated?

The process is fairly complicated but I will do my best to explain and answer questions in this thread.

We can break the process down into discrete, simple steps.

  1. Determine the normal pattern for your building
  2. Predict an expected range based on the current time of day and outside air temperature
  3. Compare actual measurements with the expectation to determine a performance indicator
  4. Convert the performance indicator into a cheeky smiley face

So, each step in turn:

Determine the normal pattern for your building

This is done using a simple statistical model based on time of day and outside air temperature. To fit the model we separate baseline consumption data into one subset for each half hour period in a week. So we have one period representing Monday morning at 09:00 and one period for Wednesday night at 23:30 and so on. We fit the model to a 12-month baseline period so each subset of data has 52 values. These are the raw data that are fitted to 336 individual consumption models.

The models are simple regression against outside air temperature with a change point representing the building ‘balance point’ temperature.

Here’s an example of Fridays at 16:30

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Each week a new point is recorded and the baseline period rolls forward so the baseline used for this weeks calculations is the 12-month period ending last Saturday at midnight. Next week we will include this weeks point in the baseline and the earliest point will drop off the end and be forgotten.

Predict an expected range

We then look at the variation (the scatter) around the model to determine how far away from the model we can expect to be. This tells us what level of consumption would be considered normal, high or low for any given outside air temperature. Model residuals are calculated as the difference between each point and the model prediction.

Fri 16_30.png938×531 72.1 KB

Percentiles are calculated from the model residuals and added back onto the model prediction to generate expected ranges of consumption. The 50th percentile represents the value above and below which 50% of baseline data fell, a kind of central value. The chart above shows the 1st, 10th, 25th, 75th, 90th and 99th residual percentiles added back onto the model prediction.

The resultant coloured zones of consumption are similar to those used in the detailed graphs1 on the website. For every measured point we know the time of week and we know the outside air temperature so we compute the range in this way and plot the data as a time series.

Compare actual measurements with the expectation

As well as calculating the level of consumption associated with specific percentile values such as the 25th and the 75th we can also calculate the percentile score of any observed level of consumption. Any value of consumption can be converted into a residual by comparing it to the baseline model, this residual can then be compared to the baseline model residuals to compute a percentile score representing precisely where it sits within the normal range from 0 (representing a residual lower than any in the baseline period) to 100 (representing a residual higher than any in the baseline period).

Convert the performance indicator into a cheeky smiley face

Its fairly easy to design a face that changes colour and eye shape and smile smiliness based on a value from 0-100.

Here we can see he red bad range

the yellow neutral range

and the green good range

You can find out a bit more about the process in this paper3 I wrote last year. It shows an early version of the system.
Dr Graeme Stuart

Environmental Audit at the Leicestershire County Council

A group of De Montfort University students, volunteered to go with the green impact team to audit the Leicestershire County Council’s Environmental performance in correlation to the Green Impact Project. As one of the auditors I thought the whole experience was great fun and an excellent learning experience. The day of the audit happened to be within employability week at the university, students were encouraged to participate in things that could increase their experience and employability prospects and the audit for me was a great opportunity to do that. The audit training provided is accredited to the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), is a great addition to my CV. The actual audit itself helped me develop other employability skill for example; Team working – worked in a group with some of the other volunteers, going through the workbook and the department we were auditing’s progress, discussed and planned how we would approach the audit. Communication – it’s one thing to be able to communicate to people, but to communicate on a professional level is very different. Was interacting with staff in a professional environment throughout the day and learnt that I communicate not only verbally but also through body language. The Staff at the Council where very pleasant and hospitable which made the day more relaxed as a lot of the volunteers where nervous.

Joseph Ogunremi – Green Impact Frontrunner

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