Date published: November 30, 2016

PhD student Danielle wins Green Gown Award for ground-breaking research on fuel poverty

PhD student Danielle Butler has won the Research and Development category at this year’s Green Gown Awards for her ground-breaking work on fuel poverty.

Established in 2004, the Green Gown Awards recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities, colleges and the learning and skills sectors across the UK and Ireland as the education sector leads a path to efficiency, employability and better quality of life for us  all.

Danielle was delighted to have been chosen as the winner of the student Research and Development category, a new addition to the awards for 2016. Upon hearing her name called at the award ceremony, she said: “I went blank and just started concentrating on not falling over! It felt really good  and it was really nice that it’s received this recognition.”

Danielle’s winning research project examined the experiences of fuel poverty among low-income, non-student young adult households – a demographic group that are disproportionately more likely to be fuel poor compared to any other age group, and yet one which has received very limited attention  to date.

After carrying out interviews with young adults living in Salford, Danielle found multiple and quite severe experiences of fuel poverty, with participants reporting instances of energy debts and issues with damp and mould.

She said: “A number of the people I interviewed spoke about living in cold homes and occasionally showed me their phone when they were desperate to show me what’s going on in their home, saying ‘look at this damp, this is the way the landlord left it’. And I’ve been told  that children’s clothes have had to be binned because there is damp in the wardrobe. You see these things.”

The research project was completed when Danielle was studying for an MSc by Research degree under the supervision of Professor Phillip Brown and Dr Graeme Sherriff, based in the Sustainable Housing & Urban Studies Unit.

She said: “Graeme and Phil helped me above and beyond with my research project. Other help came from Rebecca Bennet, the University’s Environment & Sustainability Officer, who had previous experience of the Green Gown Awards and was very helpful with my application.”

There was further success for Salford on the night, with the Sustainability team winning the Community Award for their Castle Irwell Basin Flood Project which aims to safeguard over 1400 homes and 500 businesses in Salford that are regularly threatened by flooding by creating a basin capable of holding  580,600m3 of flood water.

Danielle can be seen speaking about her fuel poverty project in the video below:

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