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Green Gown Awards Finalist promotion

We are continuing to add to our credentials as a sustainable university, having been shortlisted for two awards at this year’s Green Gown UK and Ireland Awards. The shortlisted projects are the Greenspace Movement in the Student Engagement category and our Biodiversity Strategy in the Nature Positive category.

The Green Gown Awards are given to Higher and Further Education Institutions for their dedication to sustainability. They are a fantastic opportunity to recognise the projects, initiatives, and individuals that contribute positively to their institutions and communities while aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The announcement of winners is scheduled for 30 November 2023.

When asked about what it would mean to win a Green Gown Award, Vice-Chancellor and Warden, Professor Karen O’Brien said, “Environmental sustainability is integral to our University, its strategy and delivery.  It is a vital and growing part of our teaching and learning, our wider student experience and our research agenda. Our student body have embraced opportunities to create and sustain a high-quality environment for us all to live, work and study. Our new campus biodiversity strategy reflects just how enthusiastically and effectively staff and students have worked together to have greater impact and influence.

“A Green Gown award would recognise inspiring and dedicated work by staff, students and our wider community across our sustainability agenda over a long time. It would be a strong mark of our commitment to preserving our environment for years to come.”

Congratulations to everyone involved in these initiatives for their nominations!

Shortlisted Projects

Student Engagement: The Greenspace Movement

The Greenspace Movement is our identity for environmental sustainability at Durham University. Under this banner we have initiatives including our My Greenspace App, the Greenspace Calendar, and the annual Greenspace Festival.

The Greenspace Movement brings together students, staff, and external partners, with the aim of small acts making a big difference. We have supported the development of a new student-led ‘Durham Climate Society’, which saw over 500 people join in the first term, and several successful events, including a talk by James Close, Head of Climate at NatWest.

Our annual Greenspace Festival took place in June at Grey College. The event brought together student groups, local businesses, and charities to celebrate sustainability at Durham. The event included many opportunities for career development, with key speakers including Paul Irwin-Rhodes, Head of Sustainability at Greggs, John French, Deputy Chair of Trustees EAUC and Chair of the UK Carbon Coalition, along with early career sustainability professionals.

Our My Greenspace App continues to grow in popularity, and with over 1,200 people signed up and 550 activities recorded each week, we have avoided 58 tonnes of CO2.

Nature Positive: Enhancing Biodiversity

Durham University has developed a comprehensive Biodiversity Strategy, with a target to achieve Biodiversity Net Gain by 2032. Our ambitious strategy has already delivered results, from identifying seven species of moth rarely recorded in 25 years, trialling different approaches to wildflower meadows, working to re-introduce Black Poplar, the rarest tree in the UK, and achieving ‘Gold’ accreditation from Hedgehog Friendly Campus.

The development of the strategy has seen a collaboration between the Estates & Facilities Directorate and the Department of Biosciences, with three summer internships to develop our baseline and action plan, funded by Estates. We have also identified opportunities for partnership, working with the Wear River’s Trust to promote awareness of invasive species to local landowners.

Our strategy has highlighted the species richness of our estate, with 983 different plants, birds, mammals, and insects identified. We have shared key findings on the iNaturalist platform and delivered talks to key stakeholders and schools across County Durham.

Find out more