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Engaging our community with geothermal energy on campus

Net Zero
Student Sustainability Architects

Rufus Davies tells us about his Student Sustainability Architect project to promote engagement with the University's Climate Plan.

As a Student Sustainability Architect (SSA), my work focuses on engagement with the University’s Climate Plan. Given the work that is taking place on campus to explore the potential of geothermal energy, I decided to run an event in May 2024 to inform the community about the project.

Dialogue and interactive conversation between University decision-makers, students and staff is essential, so with the responsibility of being an SSA I looked to create and host an informed discussion about delivery of the Climate Plan and specifically Geothermal Energy.

The event was run by a team consisting of Sustainability Service staff, Communications and Engagement, the Geothermal team, and myself, an SSA. The event was open to students and staff, and we welcomed attendees from across our campus community, including institutional decision-makers and fellow SSAs.

Surveys were conducted with the attendees before and after the event to monitor engagement and gauge any feedback. Overall, the feedback was very positive - attendees were overwhelmingly satisfied with an average event rating of 4.9/5, and all attendees said they would go to a similar event in the future. There was a clear uplift in attendees’ understanding of geothermal energy, how it fits into campus and broader net zero plans, and heat pumps. Understanding of geothermal energy and decarbonising with heat pumps improved by 60% and 66% respectively.

Some of the best bits of the event according to attendee feedback were the informative talks and Q&A sessions. This feedback demonstrates the positive impact of the session and the value of providing opportunities for open discussion around the Climate Plan. There is definitely an appetite and scope for more of these informative discussion-style events, possibly to be run by University management itself, the Sustainability Service, or schools/faculties.

Open discussion and broken down, bite-sized lectures with different academics. Really insightful and a great overview of geothermal energy!

Event attendee

I graduate this Summer with a degree in Sustainability and Environmental Management BSc and this has given me an appreciation for taking interdisciplinary approaches to deal with the complexity and interconnectedness of sustainability issues. Systemic change and systems thinking are often necessary for societal sustainability challenges. From my perspective as a student, I want to be part of the decision-making processes in LUU and on campus more broadly. It is essential that a wide range of stakeholders are engaged in decision-making, especially those most affected by these decisions - in this case, students, staff and the community.

As an SSA, I have had the opportunity of working with a great team of researchers and staff from a range of fields. During my time as an SSA I have learnt about institutional decision-making. I appreciate that through roles such as SSAs, students and staff have the power to create and carry out projects for sustainability. I have gained networking and communication skills as well as organisational and event management.

Want to find out more about geothermal energy and how it could help us reach Net Zero?

Watch our video update, featuring colleagues from Net Zero Delivery and Geosolutions.

You can find out more about the project on the Estates project page and the Sustainability Service website.