Over the past few weeks there have been some amazing achievements within the Service; from achieving ISO 14001:2015 accreditation for our Environmental Management System, to widening our reach of projects as part of our Living Lab programme. Some of these achievements have given us the opportunity to engage with an array of people at University, throughout the community and in surrounding areas. Some of my highlights of the past week as an intern with the Sustainability Service are listed below:
Wednesday 22nd March – Biodiversity and tree planting at Bodington
One of the events that particularly stood out for me was the mid-week Community Tree Planting Event. With help from the University grounds team and Moorlands Primary School, we set out to Bodington playing fields on the 22nd March armed with spades, trowels and 420 baby tree whips, for a morning of planting and urban biodiversity.
We pulled up into the car park at 9 am under a thick cover of clouds, where we were joined by a group of 10 trusty student volunteers from Moorlands Primary School. We began by discussing the importance of biodiversity in urban areas, mentioning the benefits of trees on wellbeing, habitat growth and carbon dioxide reduction. We then went on to think about the specific species that live in and around trees that would benefit from the mixture of Oak, Hawthorn, Beech, and Blackhorn we were planting, with students successfully recognising bats, birds, bees, insects, and squirrels as some of the main inhabitants.
It was great to get the students thinking about the importance of biodiversity in Leeds, especially with the new refurbishment of the Bodington sports and cycle track facility 500m away, and the resulting need to maintain and replace some of those surrounding natural habitats. Unfortunately we didn’t see any bats like the children had hoped, however we did see birds and a huge amount of insects within the soil and subsurface.
In the end, we manged to plant all 420 in 1 hour and 20 minutes and we couldn’t have done it without the help of Moorlands Primary School, thank you very much!
Saturday 25th March – Be Curious Festival 2017
On Saturday 25th March, the Be Curious Festival 2017 took place at various locations on campus, namely the Parkinson building and the Michael Sadler building. The day was a celebration of the research taking place at Leeds University, highlighting its importance and relevance to not only the Leeds as a city, but also Yorkshire and the UK as a whole!
We thought this would be a great opportunity to display some of the engaging research that the Sustainability Service are currently doing to tackle issues on and off campus. We had a stall dedicated to our Living Lab programme which highlighted our upcoming project looking at food waste management and its potential use as an energy source. This was paired with information on recycling in surrounding communities, giving passers-by the chance to see how their postcode compared with the recycling rates of the Leeds average, as well as testing their knowledge on what household items can and can’t be recycled. Our other stall highlighted the student projects carried out under the Community Engagement Discovery Module alongside interactive activities regarding St George’s Field, its heritage and importance as a green space on campus.
The day was a great success, with over 350 people coming and visiting us throughout the event who had some great questions and suggestions for future projects! See below for some of the imaginative drawings children drew of things they’d like to see in St George’s Field.
Thanks to everyone who helped out with Be Curious; the organisers, volunteers and members of the public who made the day a success. We look forward to next year!
We’d like to give a warm welcome to the newest members of the Sustainability Service, Emma Weaver, Matt Morton, Gloria Koepke and Mumo Mutulili.
Hello, I’m Emma one of the 2016/17 sustainable architects. I am a fourth year Textile Design student here at the University of Leeds. I am a creative individual with an inherent desire to give something back. I have a fascination for nature and its capabilities and I’m extremely excited by the “sustainability era” that surrounds us. My role as an architect gives me an opportunity to promote my passion to other students within a variety of disciplines throughout the University.
One of my main desires this year is to integrate sustainable knowledge to students, but mostly my intentions are to promote the potential and benefits of sustainability within student educations. My number one aim this year is to promote that our sustainable future doesn’t have to involve sacrifice. Instead, we should be recognising and benefiting from the innovative, revolutionary potential it presents us with.
I am very much looking forward to the year ahead, and hope to influence and inspire other students to get involved and benefit from this fascinating field.
Hello! My name is Matt and I’m one of four Sustainability Architects for 2016/17. I’m currently studying for an MSc in Sustainability and Consultancy here at Leeds. Following my environmental undergraduate degree, I decided I wanted to further my understanding of sustainability and the shared value it has for both business and society.
My duty as an architect is to diffuse the principles of the sustainability strategy throughout the University. The aspect of my role that I’m especially looking forward to is the opportunity to engage with a variety of students and staff members to find out what sustainability means to them. In the coming year, I aim to make sustainability accessible and achievable for a wider audience by highlighting its interdisciplinary and holistic nature – allowing individuals to be aware of how it can align with their existing learning. Through this, I hope that I can encourage it to be an integral part of people’s consciousness and empower them to be agents for sustainable change in their professional and personal lives.
Hi, I am Gloria, one of the four new sustainability architects. I am currently studying Mathematics as an Erasmus exchange student for one year here at the University of Leeds. After three years of studying I am thrilled to be actively getting involved with the real-world challenge of sustainability. Aside from studying various algebraic structures and proofing endless theorems, I enjoy sourcing the tastiest non-dairy milk and vegan Mousse au Chocolate recipes, experimenting with DIY cosmetic products, and I have previously volunteered for the nationwide German organisation “Foodsharing”. Since 2012 this organisation has prevented approximately 6,692,466 kg of food from being thrown in the garbage by collecting it from supermarkets and distributing it to the public for free!
Amazing projects are coming up at the University in 2017, such as the Student Conference on Sustainable Futures in February. Over the next semester, I want to investigate the challenges and possibilities students have making sustainable choices on campus by conducting one-week-long self-experiments.
Hello, I’m Mumo and I’m part of the 2016-2017 Sustainability Architect’s team at the University. I am currently in my final year of an integrated Civil Engineering Masters degree. As a student studying Civil and Structural engineering, sustainability is at the fore front of my daily activities as I am trained to design and operate systems that use energy and resources sustainably, at a rate that does not compromise the natural environment.
I strive to make daily contributions to building a sustainable society by sharing my knowledge with my course mates, housemates and my family, ensuring that we use resources efficiently and effectively. I keep up with current news and information being shared from different parts of the globe in order to understand multiple views to solve sustainability challenges.
My aim as a sustainability Architect is to increase student and wider community participation on this vital subject, particularly focusing my efforts on efficient and effective use of resources. I am very excited to share my ideas and get the student community involved in this journey!
Keep up to date with all our architects on our website and social media pages!
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Volunteer day:
It was a beautiful sunny day on the 19th October as we set out to Bingley, a small town just West of Leeds and Bradford. As we arrived at our destination we loaded ourselves with spades, shovels, hammers, gloves, wood panels and piping and set off down to a remote woodland area near the river.
We began by clearing the area of weeds and any debris left from the recent 2015 floods along the River Aire where we found all sorts of bits and bobs: plant pots, signs and large bags of compost. The soil itself was sandy and unconsolidated making it much easier to work with as we then proceeded to dig 2 separate otter holts located 20m apart from one another. The holes themselves measured 2 metres by 1.5 metres which required a lot more manual labour than was initially expected! Branching off from the holes were entrance and exit tunnels that the otters could use to enter but also escape the holt if any predators tried their luck with breaking and entering.
After a long morning of digging and excavating, it was finally time to lay down the wooden panels that would make the skeleton frame of the holt. Arranged in a square, 1.2m x 1.2m space, the holt was beginning to take shape with clear entrance and exits leading to a spacious living area. Although we didn’t actually see any otters in the wild floating down the river holding hands as they sleep like we’d hoped, we did see evidence of otter activity in the area in the form of tiny little footprints scattered across the mud. This was an encouraging sight as it was evidence that otters are active in the area and would make good use of the holts.
The volunteer day was a great experience and opportunity to help out with the work that the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust are doing to increase species inhabitancy in the area. The holts themselves were constructed with the intention of encouraging otters to recolonise and breed along the River Aire.
If you’d like to find out more about the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the work they are currently doing visit their website at http://www.ywt.org.uk/.
I’m Issy, I’ve just recently, within the past week started my new role as the new Sustainability engagement intern for the upcoming academic year.
I have just completed my second year of my geological science degree programme at the University of Leeds and have decided to take a year out to pursue my interests regarding sustainable energy and the appropriate usage of resources both locally and on a larger scale.
My main goals this year are to increase staff and student engagement with sustainability through the form of our monthly newsletter (which is free!), and regular events that offer people across university the opportunity to broaden their knowledge of sustainability, chat with members of the team and find out how they can get involved on and off campus.
I’m really looking forward to this year and what it has to offer for the sustainability team.